I don’t think I have seen another celebrity look as happy to be at a press conference as Vin Diesel was when he was at the Four Seasons Hotel to talk about Riddick. Of course, he had just received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame the day before, so his good mood was very understandable. But at the same time, he was very pleased to hear at the press conference that we had all seen Riddick and was desperate to know what we thought about it.
According to him, we were the first people to actually have watched this movie, and he said that “to sit before all of you who have seen the movie is almost as exciting as getting the Hollywood star yesterday.” Upon his saying that, everyone applauded him.
Diesel’s excitement about Riddick, however, became even more understandable when he described how much he and writer/director David Twohy had to struggle with just to get it off the ground. Unlike The Chronicles of Riddick, which was produced by a major movie studio and had a budget of over $100 million, Riddick was made independently on a budget of just under $40 million. While the previous movie in the franchise was not a commercial success, the fans kept begging Diesel and Twohy to make another Riddick film, and they have delivered on their promise to do so.
Check out the interview below and enjoy!
Now that you have completed this trilogy, do you feel ready to move on from the character of Riddick or are you hungry to make more Riddick/sci-fi movies?
Vin Diesel: I would love to do more science fiction. We have another project at Universal called Soldiers of the Sun that’s very interesting and an opportunity to go into that genre. That’s a really good question because I’ve been thinking about that lately. The reality is I always envisioned the Riddick franchise as a continuing mythology, so I always imagined that there would be many other films to follow. And yet there is part of what you said that rings true which is I do feel like I answered that request from the fans that said, “Please make another Riddick.”
It was one of the three promises that I either made or people assumed that I made on the social media network. One of them obviously was the return of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to the Fast & Furious franchise, something everybody was so vocal about 4 ½ years ago. The second was the resurrection of Riddick and reawakening that mythology, and then of course the third one you all know which is Hannibal the Conqueror, which is the one promise I haven’t delivered on yet. But I will!
Now that I have kids, it’s a little bit trickier to watch Riddick. We were initially going to try to make Riddick before I did Fast Five, and then I learned that we were expecting a child. I didn’t think it would be fair to the child and I didn’t think would be fair to the fans to go to that dark place while welcoming a life into the world, so Riddick waited until after I did the more family centric Fast Five.
As you remember in Fast Five, the idea of pregnancy was very present in the Brian and Mia relationship which I guess played to the fact that my son was being born while we were making the movie. But I couldn’t play the Riddick character and go to that dark place, and I guess the reason I’m saying that is because it is a dark place to go to play Riddick.
It’s very rewarding to see the movie, it’s very rewarding to make the movie, but playing the character is sometimes a lot more difficult than other characters because it takes so much preparation to get into that character. For this version for where Riddick is now in this movie, I went to the woods for four months and prepared by basically being a recluse. Preparing the inner core of the character, and specifically because I was also producing it, it was so important to get that core character correct so that I could easily tap into it while maintaining some kind of circumspect view of what was going on with the production as a producer.
Because you are a producer on this, how difficult is it for you to be the boss of your castmates and how do you switch out from moment to moment of being an actor to being a producer?
Vin Diesel: I try to create an environment where, when we step onto the set, we are all in character. When we played Dungeons & Dragons as kids, there would be all of us around the table and someone might say something like, “I’m tired. I just might take a nap or something.” Then the Dungeon Master would say, “Everything you say is in game.”
It is a similar approach to the way we approached making this movie. When you come on set, everything should be focused around your character and you should stay in the pocket as much as possible. Every actor has their own process, but for me I really have to stay in the pocket. So if I’m on set and I’m in character, I am not thinking like a producer. If I’m on set and I’m not in character and I’m just coming in during the moments that I’m not shooting, then I’m able to be the producer.
This is tricky because it wasn’t like being the producer of Fast & Furious. This was being the producer of something that, if it didn’t work, I would’ve lost my house. Everything that I had in my life was leveraged to make this movie, so the stakes were higher than for any producer I know because the skin in the game was real. I was so committed to answering this growing request from the social media fans to continue this character, and the only way I could pull it off was by leveraging everything.