SAN DIEGO – Vin Diesel is one of those people who has cultivated a larger-than-life reputation for himself, either intentionally or accidentally, and as a result, I genuinely didn’t know what to expect from our encounter during the San Diego Comic-Con this year.
Several weeks ago, Universal approached me about moderating their panel at Comic-Con, and they told me that they’d be bringing two films. “Kick-Ass 2” is a natural fit for Comic-Con, of course, but they faced some special challenges dealing with the language and the brutal nature of some of the violence in the film, since you always have to assume that there are going to be kids in Hall H when you make your presentation. And while I’ve been covering “Kick-Ass 2” for a while now, including my visit to the set in London, I have to confess that it was the other title they mentioned that made me smile the most, if only because I know what a long uphill battle it’s been for David Twohy and Vin Diesel to make “Riddick.”
I am sure there are easier ways Vin Diesel could have spent his time over the last four or five years, and I’m sure there were projects offered to him that would have gone in front of the cameras right away and paid him way better. But “Riddick” is a genuine passion project for Diesel, a character he loves deeply and a series that he has been fighting for since before “Pitch Black” even arrived in theaters. There was a point where USA Films didn’t even know what they were going to do with “Pitch Black,” when they were actually considering a dump to video or worse, so there has never been a moment where Riddick was anything but the underdog.
Moderating the panel was great, and I was really pleased with the way things went onstage with Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, and David Twohy, but I wanted to make sure we also got some stuff for you guys, the ones who couldn’t travel to San Diego and weren’t in that room. So later in the day, I joined Michiel, a member of the amazing HitFix video team (seriously, those guys were like animals in San Diego, turning out amazing stuff on ridiculous deadlines), over at Zach Levi’s Nerd HQ, aka Petco Park, and we shot the interview you see embedded above.
I hope Diesel enjoyed his time at Comic-Con. He was certainly bombarded with press, but I think he was also surrounded by fans who were very pleased to see him, excited to tell him what they love. Comic-Con is about passion, and that’s exactly what Diesel brought to this movie in his efforts to keep it alive and to make sure that people got to see it.
“Riddick” arrives in theaters September 6, 2013.