The first movie I saw Vin Diesel in was “Pitch Black” and I hated it. My definition of a “good” movie was very, very narrow. “Pitch Black” was done on the cheap with unknown actors and actresses. It was set on a desert planet and so much of the filming was overexposed to give it that sun scorched feel. It was also a horror film and since they were on such a budget, the director felt that the unseen was scarier than the seen through bad special effects. So the glimpses of the monsters are quick and undefined. And I didn’t like horror movies at the time so I hated it.
Fast forward a number of years. I see “The Fast and the Furious.” I thought it was okay but didn’t really notice Vin Diesel too much. I mean, he was buff and that was noticable but other than that, I really didn’t think much of him. My husband HATED it which cast a negative view over the whole thing and it was not one I cared to see again.
Then Israel went to tech school and came back having seen “The Chronicles of Riddick.” He wanted to see it with me but only after we watched “Pitch Black” together. This time around I LOVED it. Maybe it was falling in love with a guy who shaved his head, maybe it was growing as a person and realizing that there are other cinematic methods than those used in movies such as “You’ve Got Mail.” Whatever the reason, I loved it this time around. Diesel did such an incredible job as the consummate bad ass Riddick, in both “Pitch Black” and in “The Chronicles of Riddick.” But I thought that’s all he was. He was eye candy whose acting abilities consisted of having a great voice and being bad ass.
Then, a couple of months ago, after watching “Pitch Black” again, I googled Vin Diesel to see what else he’s been in. I borrowed some from the library, rented some from i-Tunes and began to realize I’d horribly misjudged Mr. Diesel. Yes, he is eye candy. Yes, he has a deep, signature voice. Yes, he plays bad-ass really well. He can also play broken hearted husband (“A Man Apart”). He can also play loyal friend (“Knockaround Guys”). He can also play (though I’ve not seen this yet) a mobster representing himself in the longest trial in American history in the movie “Find Me Guilty.” Than I got a hold of “Strays.” That would be the feature film he wrote, funded, directed, and starred in. And did a great job, I might add. That was when I began to realize, there might be more to this man than a shiny skull and a set of pipes.
So I spent today watching his TV appearances. Leno, Conan O’Brien (whom I love), BBC’s Ross show and others. And he’s great. He regularly turns the attention to the directors he’s worked with, the host of the show, the audience, other actors, the band, whomever. He credits others for the part they’ve played in his success. He steers the conversation away from his personal life and attempts to respect the privacy of his loved ones. He’s funny, he’s personable, and if he’s not actually a nice guy, he’s a much better actor than we’ve all realized.
All of this to say that as much as you can respect someone you’ve never met and have only seen on camera, I respect Vin Diesel. There aren’t many famous people I respect. There’s not that many I’ve taken the time to research to be honest. I respect Dolly Parton. I respect the late Johnny Cash. The list is short but it just got one person longer.
For what it’s worth, Mr. Diesel, you have the respect of Becky Walker.