In the biggest comeback of the year Vin Diesel talks about his fast and furious return to the world of motor-racing
After establishing himself in the box office hit “The Fast and the Furious”, Vin Diesel soon found himself one of Hollywood’s hottest action commodities. Now, eight years later the star is reuniting for latest in the furious franchise as Dom Toretto. And as if that’s not enough, Paul Walker is also back for the film as the now-agent Brian O’Conner. Here, the Hollywood beefcake fills us in on returning to the franchise, his favourite cars and the possibility of a fifth film!
Q. What convinced you to come back to the Fast and Furious franchise?
Universal made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Jeffrey Kirschenbaum visited me and asked me to do a cameo in the third installment of the franchise, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. He said that if I did it I could produce the movie I had always envisioned as being a continuation of the first one. That’s how he got me!
Q. How did that cameo play?
It was important to me because I realized the fans of the original film had owned Dominic Toretto in their own way, and I saw they wanted him back. So, I had to come back.
Q. Throughout your career you have been cautious about doing sequels.
Yes, I have been charged with being too precious about scripts and not returning to sequels.
Q. Did you ever consider the possibility of directing this movie?
No, I didn’t because I was content producing it and Justin Lin had done such a great job with the mechanics of the third movie. He really cut his teeth on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and proved he was ready to take on the monumental task of continuing the story set out in The Fast and the Furious. But both Universal and Justin challenged me to direct a short film that acts as a prequel to this movie: Los Bandoleros. I shot it in The Dominican Republic with Michelle Rodriguez, Shung Kang, Don Omar and Tego Calderon. It was a wonderful opportunity to fulfill a promise I had made to President Leonel Fernandez to bring this franchise to his country, as you see in the movie and, ultimately, in my short film too.
Q. Fast & Furious starts with a big action sequence precisely in The Dominican Republic. How important was it for you to kick the film off with a big bang?
It was our trademark, and therefore just as important as in the first movie. But here we start with a big bang that immediately familiarizes you with what this crew does. Justin was very successful in making all the action sequences in the film follow the story.
Q. What is Dominic Toretto’s crew like then?
They are like superheroes that can literally rob anything that is in motion. They are the new stagecoach robbers, the new bandits.
Q. But after that spectacular opening scene the film veers into a drama.
Yes, because this a story-driven film, like the first one. We wanted the action to entertain you, but also to drive the story.
Q. What movies in the past have inspired you in this direction?
We would have to go back to films like, Elia Kazan’s Rebel Without a Cause, which had action but was considered a drama at the time.
Q. What story were you interested in developing in the film?
A story that explores the idea of friendship and the definition of integrity and code. Those are the things we wanted to develop, and that is how Universal hooked me -by saying they would take the drama seriously.
Q. But Fast & Furious also has humor; like in the scene were Jordana Brewster, who plays your character’s sister, reminds you to pray at the table?
Yes, and that is a very important scene, because it is the first time Dominic and Brian let their guard down and realize they are friends and boys too. And it is rare to see an action film that explores camaraderie in that way.
Q. And do you both have that chemistry in true life?
It’s funny, but my mother feels our chemistry is amplified by the fact that my own twin brother looks a lot like Paul Walker; and his name is Paul too! There is a very strong similarity between them and maybe that’s why I am designed to have chemistry with him. I don’t know…
Q. How has your character evolved since we last saw him?
I think Dominic Toretto has evolved in many ways, but when you meet him in this film, he still has some unsettled business to take care of and unresolved feelings about friendship.
Q. It seems you have made a point in your career about doing different roles and not getting locked into action films.
That is true, though after working with Sidney Lumet in Find me Guilty I was liberated from that pigeonhole feeling; which gave me the confidence to come back to this character without feeling I had been locked in an action warp.
Q. But apart from playing Dominic Toretto, you are also a producer on Fast & Furious. How did that make you feel?
It made me feel more accountable, but also allowed me to have more input over the direction of the story. I enjoyed the experience.
Q. What do you think Justin Lin has brought to this franchise as director?
I am very happy to have been partners with him because I think he did a brilliant job. He reached for something deep in a very cool way, and even in the explosive action scenes -for which he deserves all the credit- he found a way to give them extra value by driving the story forward. Justin is very clever and I take my hat off to him.
Q. What did Mexico offer?
I would advise anybody to shoot in Mexico. And we were lucky to find a town like Magdalena that fit in perfectly with our needs. They were so hospitable!
Q. Do you have a dream car?
I do, though I haven’t gotten it yet. It is a 1970 Chevelle, like the one in the movie, but convertible. The problem is I believe that out of the 201 that were made only one was convertible!
Q. Are you planning the next sequel?
If we can knock it out of the park we will do it.
Fast and Furious is now showing at Irish cinemas nationwide.