Vin Diesel, the actor and producer behind the mega success Fast and Furious had a few minutes to talk to us about his last chapter in the franchise; Furious 7. The movie is the highest-grossing so far this year, and explosion-filled, car-centric installment in the Fast and Furious franchise.
The series' stunts have gotten progressively more spectacular — from fairly straightforward street racing to cars dragging a bank vault through the streets, to a tank bulldozing through a freeway full of vehicles, and now — in Furious 7 — cars dropping from a plane 10,000 feet in the air. In Los Angeles we had the opportunity to interview Vin Diesel great admirer of the Spanish Culture.
Q: Do you speak Spanish?
A: A little bit. I’m not completely fluent but I can make myself understood. I think I do.
Q: Do you like to read or listen to Spanish music?
A: Yes. Nothing that I can mention in this moment but the Spanish culture definitely had a big influence in me. The Spanish culture is part of our identity.
Q: Is a very diverse cast
A: Absolutely and that is part of the key for our success. We are a very diverse country and is important to reflect that in the movie.
Q: Do you think your nickname still fits you, “Diesel”?
A: Well, times do change. But it’s still “Diesel”. I can’t shake it. It’s still the same name.
Maybe it should be more romantic…
Q: Can you imagine Fast and Furious 10 racing Teslas?
A: Of course. I tried to get a Tesla in this one. But that’s part of this franchise to introduce new fun cars. Up to speed and to stay contemporary, it’s fun.
Q: How do you envision number 8?
A: Normally I would be walking you through the many films of the future, but because of this film I am going to hold back, and allow you the audience to just embrace this one. This movie is different. we are not trying to set it up so much as we have in the past. It has a very clean ending. To the best of my ability I try to hold to that, and don’t want to talk about the place in the future.
Q: How did the story after Paul died?
A: The story was going in one direction. After the tragedy it became very clear and important to us to make sure that we honor his character. Thankfully we built in so many themes that actually end up playing out in a way that’s more true than we initially set out to. It’s surreal because the story is in its best shape and its best form – inspired by a tragedy.
Q: What did the first day after the tragedy feel like?
A: It was a feat just to get there for the first day. I had to call upon a strength that I never had to call upon just to make it back to set. I am doing a scene on the first scene with Patrick. It’s a showdown. My character is supposed to be furious. I was in a car, every time the set went quiet, I’d feel something running down my cheek, and my nose is running. It didn’t make sense, because I was so angry. I am the son of a theater director, it didn’t make sense. I spent 40 years trying to master this craft. But I couldn’t stop that thing running down my cheek. And it was all because the car I was sitting in was a car I was introduced to by Paul. I went through three boxes of tissues, and I just couldn’t stop it.
Q: The loss of Paul was a loss on so many different levels for you. Did it make you reevaluate your own life, did it make you regroup?
A: Very much so. Just the year earlier we were doing press, and he told me how lucky we were to be alive because of all the stunts we had done. I wouldn’t have been an actor in this if I hadn’t been a producer. The studio was prepared to never do Fast again. But they asked me to do a cameo in Tokyo Drift. I said it’s tricky for me to make a cameo. They said you turned down so many in the past, just do this cameo for us and we’ll let you produce the next one. And then we started working on this saga. If I do four, the world is going to want more. I could save you a lot of money, if I just shoot three back to back to back. That’s how we got to 6 and 7.
Q: Why is this franchise so popular?
A: There is an integrity that you don’t find anywhere else. These are great heroes in a world where superheroes work capes and stuff. They are the authors of this saga. It’s not comic books. They pay close attention to everything. It’s a home grown franchise. Universal should be very proud of it.
Q: Is this your other baby?
A: This is my gogogaga. I played with the idea of TV. The studio wanted me to play with a TV idea for this and for Chronicles of Riddick. I just haven’t had enough time to really give it a go. We could create stories that expand our universe. We are in that world now where we can do that.
Q: We saw a scene where this car flies around…
A: Every time you as a saga went up the last one. Whenever we broke records, I would always say I feel a sense of pressure with this great success. It only means, that you have to beat it. Each success is only a benchmark to make it even better. I didn’t use to believe in sequels. I asked the studio to never do another one after the first one came out. It had a stigma in the 90s. “Rebel without the Cause” would have been ruined as a sequel. But I never thought of Godfather as a sequel.
Q: Were there plenty of sad moments, but also fun moments? Is laughter the best medicine when you are grieving?
A: My responsibility is not to worry about the pranks, but just to make a great movie. I always feel the pressure. I always think about the big picture. I am always super serious on set. when I am not on set, I am the funniest guy. I laugh so much with Tyrese in my life, but not on set. I am watching every moment on set to make sure there is a place to find some magic that’s not on the page. That’s what I did with Paul. We always tried to make it so much better. I am holding my breath when I make the movie to catch the moment to make something immortal. Movies to me are sacred. They just are. There is something about movies that’s immortal that can change people’s life.
Q: What directors do you like?
A: It doesn’t matter what director I work with. I’ve always been that way. When I did Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg would look at me and think I am crazy, I would always talk to him about improving Saving Private Ryan. I remember one day walking to set with him 20 minutes early every day, and I had this one suggestion – by the way I die 45 minutes into the movie – and I gave this suggestion for Tom Hanks in the third act. He turned to me and said: Vinnie, what do you want, you are dead after 45 minutes….
Q: If Paul could see this movie, what would he say?
A: That is the question, I am hoping when the premiere happens, that I hear a voice. And it’s Paul who says: Vinnie, that’s it, the best one has been made.
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