movies: Vin Diesel’s rough road back to Rid­dick

It’s a rough road back to Rid­dick for star/pro­ducer, writes Derrik J Lang

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

THUMP. Thump. That’s the sound the golf cart makes each time it strikes the un­even pave­ment as it trans­ports Vin Diesel across the Univer­sal Stu­dios back­lot.

He’s trav­el­ling from his bun­ga­low of­fice to a screen­ing room where Rid­dick crew mem­bers have gath­ered to watch the third in­stal­ment of the sci-fi se­ries star­ring the 46-year-old ac­tor­pro­ducer as an ex­trater­res­trial ex-con.

‘‘It’s such a vic­tory that this movie is go­ing to be in theatres,’’ he says in his sig­na­ture growly tone.

In­deed, when it comes to Rid­dick, Diesel is all too fa­mil­iar with hit­ting bumps in the road. It took the Fast & Furious star nearly a decade (and mil­lions of dollars in fundrais­ing) to bring his see-in-the-dark anti-hero back to the big screen.

Univer­sal had jet­ti­soned a pos­si­ble third edi­tion af­ter 2004’s Chron­i­cles of Rid­dick didn’t soar at the box of­fice.

De­spite the fact Chron­i­cles of Rid­dick and its 2000 pre­de­ces­sor Pitch Black, as well as a pair of Rid­dick video games, amassed a cult fol­low­ing, it seemed like Rid­dick would be for­ever lost in space. How­ever, Diesel re­mained un­de­terred. He worked with se­ries writer-di­rec­tor David Twohy to re­sus­ci­tate Rid­dick, ob­tain­ing the film rights af­ter Univer­sal passed.

‘‘I started in the in­de­pen­dent (film) world, but this was a new level of chal­lenge for me,’’ Diesel says.

He treated the se­quel just like an in­die film pro­ject, not un­like the 1990s self-funded movies Multi-Facial and Strays, which first trans­formed the burly New Yorker from bouncer to ac­tor-pro­ducer. Be­tween film­ing Fast & Furious movies, he trav­elled to Ger­many with Twohy to woo enough in­vestors to con­vince the stu­dio to come back on board.

‘‘This char­ac­ter struck a chord,’’ says Diesel, who points to his 46 mil­lion Face­book fans as the rea­son for tak­ing sev­eral risks – in­clud­ing al­most lever­ag­ing his own house when bills couldn’t be paid – to re­cover Rid­dick.

‘‘He’s tan­gi­ble for them. I think the idea of a char­ac­ter that has been mis­read, over­looked and given up on is very fas­ci­nat­ing to peo­ple.’’

The orig­i­nal Pitch Black, which in­tro­duced the ruth­less Richard B Rid­dick amid an eclec­tic group of space­ship crash sur­vivors, cost $US23 mil­lion ($A25.53 mil­lion) and went on to earn $US53 mil­lion world­wide. The fol­low-up heav­ily ex­panded on the first film’s spacey mythol­ogy and bud­get. It cost $US105 mil­lion but wasn’t ul­ti­mately a block­buster, bring­ing in a so-so $US115 mil­lion world­wide.

Rid­dick leanly cost be­tween $US35 and $US40 mil­lion, blends ele­ments from both chap­ters, keep­ing the or­nate look of Chron­i­cles but dis­patch­ing with its PG-13 in­ter­stel­lar pol­i­tics in favour of the MA15+-rated ter­ror of Pitch Black.

The film strands the Furyan bad boy on a des­o­late planet where he’s hunted by du­elling bands of mer­ce­nar­ies.

‘‘For both of us, it was like go­ing home again,’’ says Twohy.

With the re­vivals of Fast & Furious and Rid­dick now un­der his belt, Diesel feels rein­vig­o­rated about his other pas­sion pro­ject: a tril­ogy in which he’d play Carthaginian com­man­der Hannibal Barca, the au­da­cious gen­eral who marched across the Alps to chal­lenge the Ro­man Em­pire. It’s an­other bumpy ven­ture Diesel has been work­ing on for the bet­ter part of a decade.

But first, Diesel says he’s revving up for the sev­enth Fast & Furious, which be­gins shoot­ing next month in At­lanta and Los An­ge­les, and Mar­vel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, in which he’ll por­tray the tree-like alien Groot.

For the for­mer street per­former, it’ll mark his first foray into mo­tion-cap­ture act­ing – and play­ing a char­ac­ter known for de­liv­er­ing just one line: ‘‘I am Groot.’’ ‘‘The idea of bring­ing that phys­i­cal­ity to a CGI char­ac­ter al­ways tan­ta­lised me,’’ he says.

‘‘To strip away ev­ery­thing is in­sane. In this case, the voice plays heav­ily into it, too. I don’t know what kind of dia­logue will be in it, but even if it stayed true to char­ac­ter, there’s so much one can do with ‘I am Groot’. It’s the kind of chal­lenge very few ac­tors ever get.’’

Rid­dick opens to­day.

Vin Diesel stars in Rid­dick.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.