Creator / Vin Diesel

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Penny Arcade shows us how Vin Diesel rolls.

Vin Diesel (born Mark Sinclair Vincent, July 18, 1967) is the Scary Black Man, only (mostly) white.

Vin has spent most of his film career playing bald, brawny badass guys who sound like they gargle with thumbtacks and whiskey (which is the basis of his appeal for some). However, unlike most action stars, Vin has a huge advantage that helps to get him fanboys: he is a massive geek. A massive geek who could break your spine. Seriously, the guy loves Dungeons & Dragons so much, he wrote his own campaigns, got a temp tattoo of the name of his D&D character in xXx (it's "Melkor", if you're wondering), and even started his own video game company because he was tired of people making crappy video games out of his movies. Their first project (although not for long) was teaming up with Starbreeze Studios to make The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, which many people named as actually being better than the accompanying film, and was named as being the best action game on the Xbox at the time. When they released the sequel, a large percentage of its sales were just because it included the original levels. So yeah, it was pretty good.

It gets better: one of the upcoming games is about his player character. Penny Arcade is actually attempting (kind of) to get him to join them in one of their podcasted D&D campaigns (despite the very real possibility that putting both Riddick and Wesley Crusher in the same room would destroy the universe).note 

Vin's probably most known for his work on the The Chronicles of Riddick and The Fast and the Furious (specifically the first and last three film) series, but he's done many things, from big budget action flicks like xXx and Saving Private Ryan, to writing, directing, and starring in indie docu-dramas. He also voiced the title character in The Iron Giant. It also bears saying that he's one of the premiere examples of Mean Character, Nice Actor because while Riddick is a Magnificent Bastard and a murderer, Vin Diesel is reportedly a very sweet, polite guy. And by the way, it turns out that He Really Can Act, as evidenced by his acclaimed performances in Find Me Guilty and Boiler Room, as well as the afore-mentioned voice acting role in The Iron Giant.

Also, you know that "Chuck Norris Facts" fad that you may have heard of? Originally, those were all Vin facts. The best one of the lot? "Rearranging the letters in Vin Diesel's name reveals his credo: I End Lives."


Filmography:

This actor's roles provide examples of:

  • Ambiguously Brown: Not even he is sure what ethnicity he is. His mother has a mixed background, he's never met with his biological father, and he's stated his parents' relationship would have been illegal thanks to laws against racial mixing. However, he identifies as "definitely a person of color". The only other indication of this besides his skin tone is that when his hair is grown out, he has a distinctly African-style afro. His short film Multi-Facial is based on his struggles finding work as an actor due to his multi-racial background. Aside from starring in it, he also wrote and directed the short.
  • Action Genre Hero Guy: Textbook example.
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: He's played criminals, murderers, and mercenaries in most of his roles, but all have some redeeming qualities and few are genuinely malevolent.
  • Bald of Awesome: Diesel seems to be a reverse Samson - he loses most of his badass factor when he doesn't have a shaven head. He re-shaves it in character during Pitch Black just to keep this up.
  • Doing It for the Art: invoked You'd think being cast as a sentient tree who only speaks one phrase would be an invitation to phone it in, but Diesel recorded the line "I am Groot" over a thousand times in a half-dozen different languages at full intensity every time (while wearing stilts... his idea).
  • Guttural Growler: His deep voice shines through in all his roles, particularly as Riddick, who sounds even deeper and more guttural than usual in his internal monologue, and in The Iron Giant, where his voice work had less computer assistance than you'd think.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: invoked
  • One of Us: invoked Very much so. He's a huge D&D and video game fan and is overly familiar with geek culture, to the point that the game company he founded is actually named after his D&D character.note  There is also an urban legend going around that he "taught" Judi Dench to play D&D while they were filming The Chronicles of Riddick together. This is untrue. She already knew how to play D&D.note 
  • So My Kids Can Watch: He starred in a Disney movie for the sole reason of his niece and nephew being allowed to watch "Uncle Vin" on screen.
  • True Companions: With Paul Walker, his death left him horribly devastated when Walker passed away and production on Furious 7 was frequently delayed because Diesel couldn't bear to be on set without Walker at his side. The film was dedicated to Paul. He later named his daughter Pauline after him.


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