Five fun facts about the fastest and most furious of film stars…
1. Named & Shamed!
Vin Diesel might not look and sound so tough if he’d stuck with his birth name of… Mark Sinclair, which sounds better suited to a rather trustworthy accountant. Mark got the nickname “Diesel” at around the age of seven because he had so much energy all the time. It was at around this time that he literally “broke into” acting when he and some mates attempted to burgle a theatre, only to be busted by a teacher who offered to teach them rather than dob them in to the cops. It was at age of 17 that he changed his name to Vin Diesel and started to seriously try to break into theatre. Mark’s choice of first name Vin remains a mystery—some say it’s to honour his fraternal twin, Paul Vincent Sinclair, while others swear it’s the widely used acronym for the anti-car-theft Vehicle Identification Number! If the latter is true, it sure predicted his Fast And Furious success.
2. Nerd Alert!
While Vin may look like a muscle-bound mortar shell on legs, he’s also really big geek. How big? Well he’s been playing Dungeons & Dragons for decades and even wrote the foreword to a 30th anniversary book about the game. Oh, and he also has a tattoo of his character Melkor. Find it hard to believe? Here’s half an hour of Vin playing the fantasy game
3. DIY Diesel
Vin looks like a big lug but there’s a big creative brain behind that bruiser mug. He literally wrote his own ticket to Hollywood fame back in 1994 by writing, directing, producing and starring in a short film called Multifacial (below), which was about a struggling actor just like himself. The movie got into the Cannes Film Festival and found a fan in Steven Spielberg, who cast him in Saving Private Ryan. From there, he was off!
4. Fast & Furious
While Vin starred in successful action flicks like xXx, Pitch Black and its sequel and comedies like The Pacifier and Find Me Guilty, he’s had his most incredible commercial success with the Fast & Furious franchise. Starting in 2001, the seven films have so far grossed nearly $US4 billion combined, making it Universal’s biggest-earning franchise. And there’s no stopping the F&F flicks – Fast 8 is out next year and Diesel has announced the ninth and tenth movies will be made and released between 2018 and 2021.
5. Vin The Voice
While he’s known for his very physical screen presence, deep-voiced Vin has found his greatest acclaim from critics when he’s heard but not seen. He voiced the title character of 1999’s animated film The Iron Giant and was the unlikely breakout star of 2014’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, when he voiced the tree Groot. He’ll be back in the Guardians sequel, also out next year.