'Riddick's' Vin Diesel talks integrity and going 'R' in a PG-13 world
DIESEL: The pressure is abated when I walk out to the set because I’m already able to walk out to the set. The pressure started way before…the pressure was before I even got out here. The pressure was, I’d already leveraged so much to do this movie that…the pressure was indescribable. The second I walk onto the set and I know that there’s a camera and I know that there’s a David Twohy behind that camera, there is zero pressure. There is just me jumping into a pool called Riddick. It’s the most free I am. It’s like channeling something. It’s like taking a drug called Riddick and living in that space.
To answer your question, it’s the one time that I feel the least pressure. But my process plays to that. My process of Riddick is kind of a bizarre process, meaning I’ll go from April of last year or May of last year to October of last year or September of last year, I’ll take three or four months and just go off into the woods. People are like, “How are you…what process are you doing for Riddick?” But it’ll be a kind of meditated process that will allow for me to walk on set and be able to pull that character instantaneously. It’s a bizarre process but it’s part of that Riddick process. It usually demands a very isolated time, a very reclusive period before coming here.
When I finally come on the set, I’m releasing that and I’m almost breathing in a way, if that makes any sense. It’s like I’ve been suffocating for four months before doing the film. Does that make sense?
Yeah. We’ve talked a lot about world building. One of the things that really impressed me with "Chronicles of Riddick" is the way you’ve actually brought in games and the games and the animated movie and all of that stuff and they’ve actually been good! A lot of times when we have these tie-ins to movies, they’re not that great. The games are great, the animated movie’s great. Do you have any plans to do something similar?
DIESEL: Oh my God, yes.
Rebooting "Chronicles of Riddick" and everything?
Why does it matter and why is it so important and why do you take so much stake in it?
DIESEL: First of all, I’m a gamer and I’m part of a gaming generation that started with TV Pong. So, when I was seven years old, I would go to Radio Shack on Avenue of the Americas, second grade, and I played something called TV Pong. It was just the beginning of the gaming generation. "The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay," the way that materialized was a need to expand the world and not having any more resources available to do so. So what the video game allowed us to do was to create, at the very least, interstitials and animatics, that might have cost $10 to $20 million if you would have shot it in the live-action format, that we didn’t have available to us but still needed, for those who wanted to delve deeper and deeper into the universe, still needed to exist.
So it was a clever way to expand the universe while you had the anime being built in Japan and while you had the novels being written, it was an opportunity to shed backstory, to start to set up some of the mythology for "Chronicles of Riddick" in a medium that cost a fraction, ten-percent of what it would have cost in a live-action format that we didn’t have available for us in the first place.
So are we going to see more of that, too?
DIESEL: You will have more of that. That’s the fun of it, yeah.
Do you still board game?
DIESEL: I haven’t board gamed in a while and I have people that are asking me to board game. I have a buddy who just wrote a beautiful Gary Gygax script. Gary Gygax’s wife wants me to play him. [laughs] Yeah, I don’t get it either. I was like, “Me? I’m Vin Diesel? How do you want me to play it?” I guess that’s cool. I guess some people think of me as a…dweeb, or something? It’s beautiful.
I haven’t boarded as much as I want to, although friends of mine, like Michelle Rodriguez, she’ll say she thinks I DM Hollywood, because I’m able to do these things that are just preposterous like shoot "Riddick." You have to understand, when we made "Chronicles of Riddick," this is how confident we were…I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this story, but when David and I delivered the script to the studio, we delivered three leather binders: one said “Core One,” the second said, “Core Two,” and the third said, “Core Three.”
Now, all but the first one basically had Xerox paper stuffed in it, right? With like a little treatment on each one. It was a locked leather binder and we only gave the studio keys to the first binder. [laughs] It was a statement saying, “This is a trilogy. Think of 'Pitch Black' as 'The Hobbit' to 'The Lord of the Rings.' This is a trilogy.” And people in Canada to this day knew that we were making a trilogy. So it’s kind of surreal that we’re here continuing this franchise, but it was always the intention to create a mythology like this.