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The Chronicles of Riddick - Vin Diesel Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Vin [Introducing himself and Alexa): Otherwise known as Humphry Bogart and Lauren Bacall!

Q. Alexa, what was the most nerve-wracking aspect for you: doing an action film or acting opposite Vin Diesel?
AD:
Actually, if it wasn’t for Vin, I probably wouldn’t have survived, so I have to say the action stuff.

Q, And what about the preparation for that? It’s not really for a young lady, putting yourself through all that…
AD:
Eh, a few months of training and lots of blood sweat and tears, but lots of fun.

Q. Vin, it occurred to me while watching this movie that Riddick is your Conan movie, because Riddick is thief, warrior, king…
[nods in agreement]
Did you see it that way? Because you’ve made Riddick this iconic figure haven’t you?
A
. Well, the idea of fusing fantasy into this science fiction was one of the things that was so attractive about visiting this character.
Conan – I’m glad you actually … when I hear someone say that, that’s a good thing. In the training, and this is how crazy and meticulous I was about trying to get the right anatomy. A year before shooting I bought a trampoline and put it in my back yard.
And the reason that I did that is because I wanted to create this body anatomy that kind of resembled a Frank Frezetta illustration. I don’t know if you guys know who Frank Frazetta is, or his illustrations of Conan and Tarzan, but the body anatomy was always very savage.
So, instead of being on a wire and just flying through the air, I tried to create this body anatomy. So the fact that you say Conan is, I guess, pretty dead on, but more so for the illustrations of Frank Frazetta.

Q. Vin, where did you practice pulling that scary face you’ve got in this and Pitch Black and what are your favourite scenes?
VD:
The scary face? I’ve had a lot of years to perfect that in my years of bouncing, when I wasn’t able to get an acting role. So, many, many, many years and many, many, many nights of standing at the front door, you can kind of perfect that face that says ‘I’ll kill you,. Especially in New York City.

Q. And best scene?
A.
Well, of course my scenes with Alexa were unbelievable and fun and beautiful and sexy, hot, strong… But I think my favourite scene in the movie was petting the Hell-hound, because it took me back to petting my own dog.
I have a connie corso, this 165lb connie corso. So, actually, I remember working out that scene and deciding how we, Riddick, would pet this huge hell-hound, and I had just got through elephant training, and one of the things that the elephant trainers said to me stuck in my mind.
These big animals don’t like it if you just softly caress them. They wanna know that you’re there. They want you to hit ‘em hard, so when I saw the special effect all come together, and I’m petting this giant hell-hound, I went, [squeels] ‘yeah’.

Q. Vin, David Twohy said you angled for Dame Judi Dench. If she angled for you for a part in a stage play would you do it, and if so what part would you want?
A:
Wow! As long as it wasn’t Caliban, I would jump at it.

Q. What was it like working with Dame Judi?
A:
Unbelievable. Going from Pitch Black, going from this very contained story that lived in the sci-fi horror world, and going into an epic sci-fi mythology, we needed a character that very quickly could explain the mythology. Who more credible than Judi Dench? She was, in my mind in casting, the most important component.
Of course, as an actor, I can tell you that anyone in the world is gonna want to work in a film that Judi Dench is in. So once we cast Judi Dench, as Aereon, there was an international call for actors and everybody wanted to work on the film. We could have gotten Laurence Olivier at that point [long pause as he considers what he’s just said] … provided…

Q. … he hadn’t been dead for years?
A.
Yeah, thank you. Minor technicalities. But she was so amazing. So wonderful. For years, people had asked me who I wanted to work with. They’d expect me to say an A-list actor, or an A-list director, and I’d say Judi Dench. And they’d say, what would you guys do together? [She was] magical. At the end of the first day, the first scene that we shot together, the still photographer came into my trailer with an 8x10 and I immediately sent it off to my mother and said: "If nothing else, my dream has already come true. I did it, I did a scene with Judi Dench."

Q. Alexa, are you, or were you, a fan of science fiction and had you seen Pitch Black?
AD:
I had not seen it prior to this coming up, and once the audition came up, I immediately came and watched it. It was about how much research can I do before my 48 hours of audition time is up.

Q. How excited will you be to come back and do more films? Would you come back and do more film?
A: [in bad Brit accent]
I’m not. I’m having a long vacation.
AD: I would start tomorrow.
VD:
Ahhhh, that’s adorable.
AD: I would, I think it’s not a story that can be told in one film and I would love to come back and do another one and be a part of it.
VD: Of course, I would want to [starts heavy breathing] continue on with this thing that I have worked on so hard. [speaking normally] Yes. The concept behind switching genres was to create a film that you could continue exploring. Even in the ending of the movie, it’s not just us opening it up so we can tell another story; it’s a very specific ending. A very daring ending, because it’s left open-ended. But you know, or maybe you don’t know, that in the next film Riddick is going to go to the Underverse. I would love to. This is what we do it for.

Q. Is this only the beginning then?
VD:
Yeah. There are a lot of elements in my mind; there is already a story, a place. In C2 – I’ll tell you this: when we went to the studio, I bought these leather binders. I got three leather binders and one of them said C1, one said C2 and one said C3 and they all had locks on them. And we only gave the key to C1 to the studio. So C2 we will go to the Underverse. C2 will be rated R, in C2 Riddick will interact with new Elementals. Not air Elementals – with fire, water. And then come full circle with C3, when he must return to Furion, and you will hopefully have Sophie Marceau saying to Judi Dench: "We did not save him to rescue your world." Sorry…

Q. You’re getting carried away! Vin, at one point you were juggling three franchises [Fast and the Furious, xXx] can you talk us through why you decided on this one and let the others go?
VD:
This was a cult classic. When we shot Pitch Black, we shot Pitch Black in Coober Pedy [in southern Australia] with the studio called Polygram, that ultimately fell out and we didn’t have a distribution company for a while.
The other films were huge blockbusters. I never was too keen on doing a sequel in a reactionary way, just because the movie was a financial hit, as opposed to Pitch Black, which was a cult film. Not a whole lot of people saw it in the theatre. I guess I just gravitated to the Riddick character, and the possibilities of the Universe, more so than just revisiting a franchise because it was successful.

Q. And there were no pangs when you saw 2 Fast 2 Furious – indeed have you seen it?
VD:
Nah. I think my producing partner just saw it for the first time last night in the hotel.

Q. Your doing your bit for its profits then?
VD:
Yeah, I chip in whenever I can.

Q. Can you give us any clues about Hannibal and is it going to be physically more arduous in a realistic sense?
VD:
Hannibal the Conqueror. I started elephant training two years ago. It’s true! It’s a living. Believe it or not. So I started riding elephants two years ago. Timbo is his name. The largest African elephant in north America. David Franzoni, who wrote Gladiator, has written Hannibal.
A man named Ross Leckie, who is from Scotland, wrote a book called Hannibal. The book we optioned two years ago. I’m going to Malta to location scout because there are Venetian temples that still exist there, that were there during the Carthaginian rule.
Yes, the film I’m most passionate about is Hannibal the Conqueror. It’s a story about this 3rd Century BC Carthaginian general who proved that by uniting people of no common language, culture or religion could defeat tyranny – it’s a very interesting story to me, very multi-cultural.
Of course, if you don’t know, he was a Carthaginian general, 200-years before the birth of Christ. Ultimately, his city, Carthage, which was the London of antiquity in ancient history, was destroyed in the first documented account of genocide, raised to the ground. I could go on for ever, so just stop me…

Q. Mountains…
VD:
The march across the Alps? Absolutely. It’s an integral part of the second act. Hannibal crossed the snow-covered Alps from Spain, into Italy, when it was an unthinkable task, on elephants. Yorick [van Wageningen], will be playing Versim Gedderacks, who was a leader of the Galles, who is, at first, a rival of Hannibal’s, and then becomes an ally, as he proves himself to the world.

Q. Riddick is rough and tough, but has humour bubbling beneath the surface. Was that carried off set too?
VD:
No, it was very deep, very heavy. I think that humour comes out of Riddick in spite of himself.

Q. Vin, Pitch Black wasn’t that long ago, but you seemed very determined to make it in Hollywood. Since then your career has witnessed a quantum leap. Has it exceeded your expectations when you were a relative unknown?
VD:
I guess the therapy I subscribe to is thinking about what I’m going to do next. I don’t know if it’s a fault or an asset, but I don’t think about where I’m at, I always think about what I’d like to do.
There’s always an outstanding dream, so in this case, Hannibal the Conqueror. For five years, it was Chronicles of Riddick. So when I was on Pitch Plack, in Cooper Pedy, in the outback of Australia, I was thinking, wow, wouldn’t it be cool if we were able to follow Riddick off of this planet and, through his eyes, be introduced to a world and a mythology that governs that universe.
And now that I’ve been able to satisfy that for the past couple of years I’ve been thinking: ‘I can’t wait to tell this Hannibal story.’ So I think that’s my answer. I think that’s more of what I’ve done, enjoyed the creativeness.

Q. Vin, when Pierce Brosnan got the part of Bond, he said the most intimidating thing was working with Dame Judi. Was it like that for you, or was it a love match?
VD:
A love match. It was like my fairy godmother. Nothing could go wrong. I was in the safest of hands. Nothing was more magical. This is going to sound crazy, but my mother is an Astrologist and [Dame Judi] is a Libra, and a Libra is and air-elemental sign, so you draw the conclusions.

Q. Elephant training: Did you have a battle of wills with Timbo, because I’ve been on an elephant and they pretty much did the driving.
A. Elephants have killed more trainers than any other animal. I think I got lucky. I just kind of chilled with the elephant. I looked at the elephant and said, ‘you know, I’ve been doing this for years’.

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