Vin Diesel promises to shoot a film in PH
LOS ANGELES—Vin Diesel still plans to shoot a movie in the Philippines. “It’s just a matter of time because I keep my promises,” said the actor, who fell in love with the country and its people when he graced the Manila premiere of “Fast & Furious 6” in 2013. “I want to film something in the Philippines. There’s been a lot of talk about it. In fact, it’s written into ‘xXx [The Return of Xander Cage].’ Some great sequences will be in the Philippines. I just love the Philippines.”
In this recent interview in a tent on Dodger Stadium’s parking lot where the “Fast & Furious” muscle cars were on display, Vin, who has a Filipino sister-in-law (Grace Blanco), repeated his admiration of the jeeps he saw in the Philippines. He even rode in one.
“I love the jeepney,” he enthused again. “I grew up in New York City so I spent most of my time in a subway. When I was [in a Philippine jeepney] I was like, this is as good as it gets. Imagine if I had gone to school every day in a jeepney, instead of underground. That would have been cool.”
The hulking actor made quite an entrance earlier. He walked in, eyes partially shut, singing along to a song blasting on a black portable Bluetooth speaker, with lyrics like “You know I love you…” It was a musical ode to his late “Fast & Furious” costar and buddy, Paul Walker, whom he often endearingly called “Pablo.”
“Talk about an entrance!” exclaimed the actor, biceps bursting from his V-neck blue shirt, after his song. “There are entrances and then there are entrances.” He puts on a good show. I will take that anytime over a boring monologue by an actor talking in a grim monotone.
Vin stood up and started singing some of his answers in improvised melodies. He bowed his head and paced dejectedly when he pretended to be hurt by a comment. He closed his eyes often, especially when he was reminiscing about “Pablo.”
Instead of the usual hint about what’s coming next, “Fast & Furious 7” ends with a moving tribute to Paul. Vin explained, “It’s like a little trademark; every time you see a ‘Fast & Furious’ movie, there’s some special tag in the end, some promise or wink to the audience that this is going to continue.
“But there was something very important for us to consider in this chapter and that was handling this very precious
homage to someone we loved, someone the world loved—an angel. Because our focus was on allowing the audience to have that closure and to be fully invested in that final scene, we opted not to do a tag.”
This touching memorial to Paul, who died in a car crash midway through shooting the movie in 2013, is counterbalanced by high testosterone action scenes that the franchise is known for. Asian-Australian director, James Wan, noted for his horror oeuvres like “The Conjuring” and “Saw,” does a solid job keeping this series’ fans happy while giving a fitting homage to Paul.
Also in the appealing cast are Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris.
Asked to share some of his memories of Paul, the father of three kids whom he also calls “angels” (Hania, Vincent and Pauline—named in honor of the late actor) with his girlfriend, model Paloma Jimenez, replied, “Seven years ago, we were filming a scene for ‘Fast & Furious,’ the fourth chapter in the saga. It was a scene where I look at Brian’s (Paul) phone and I see that Letty (Michelle) has contacted him. My character comes out angry and we fight all day. At the end of the day, Paul comes into my trailer and says, ‘Hey, what’s wrong? Something is up. I know you too well.’
“I hid the fact that I was expecting a beautiful angel (Hania). Paul said, ‘You can’t lie to me. Tell me what’s on your mind. I said, ‘Her [Paloma’s] water broke. And I have been holding it in the whole day. I have to get out of here and get to the hospital.’
“Paul said, ‘A lot of the machos will tell you, ‘Don’t go to the delivery room.’ But I will tell you, ‘Go into the delivery room. Be as present as you can, even cut the umbilical cord. It will be the best day of your life.’ I did and to this day, that has been the best day of my life.”
Vin, whose Facebook page has a staggering 87 million likes, said his likers’ comments about Paul still move him to this day. “There are times when I am crying for hours. I can’t leave my room because I didn’t know that human beings could produce so many tears. When someone leaves a comment, ‘Pablo is looking down and he’s proud of you,’ it cuts my heart in so many pieces and it brings me to tears. The person (on the social media site) doesn’t know me or Paul (personally) but the fact that he can feel that is profound.
“The support from the fans is what gave me strength to go back to complete this movie and gave me the conviction to make sure all of us work 200 percent to leave a legacy for someone universally loved.”
The 47-year-old recalled this latest film’s first screening: “We did the first one in LA because it was important for me to present it where the whole franchise started. Obviously, this is a very important film to me and to all of us. So I got up on the stage and started to talk about this labor of love. I said that we are doing it for Paul and I started to get choked up. I always have to check myself.
“In fact, it’s a miracle I am not wearing sunglasses right now because those sunglasses have been my best defense. Whenever I am doing interviews, when my eyes water up and my sunglasses are on, you can’t see that I am emotionally a wreck. When I presented the picture, I was almost not able to talk because I was afraid my lips were going to quiver.”
While Vin’s Dominic Toretto drives exotic cars, including a Lykan Hypersport that he drives off a tower in Dubai, the clean-shaven dad plays it safe in real life. “It’s minivan season in the Diesel household,” he said with his winning smile. “It’s a beautiful thing—the celebration of life.”
As for his first car, Vin shared that it “was a lemon. In New York, they have what is called car auctions. You are not allowed to turn the engine on but you are allowed to look under the hood. I bid for a 1978 Monte Carlo. I got the car for $175. No tax. I started driving up the West Side Highway. After about 15 minutes, I saw behind me in the rear view mirror a huge cloud of blue smoke. That was my first experience in purchasing a car.”
Being a family man now, Vin stressed that he has become less gung-ho on the set. “The stunts that we do are dangerous. When you have a family, you are much more cautious. You can’t be as reckless as you used to be. The only time I am reckless is when I am in character. But if I am not in character, I am thinking about the angels.
“So I don’t do Evil Knievel stuff anymore like I used to do for pleasure. On the first movie, we were pretty crazy. But I still do it for the film. I just don’t skydive on the weekend, if that makes sense. I don’t ride my motorcycles like I used to, going 165 miles an hour. With age comes maturity. I am sure everybody can identify with that. With family comes some maturity. We are still a work in progress but yeah, I would like to be around my kids for a while.”
Vin, whose “Dom” character and his crew committed high-speed truck hijackings, was asked if he had stolen anything in real life. “Yeah, I used to steal food stamps from my mother,” admitted the actor who was raised by his mom, Delora, and African-American stepdad, Irving. Vin never met his biological dad.
He added, laughing, “I was hungry. That was back in the ’70s, you know. Don’t tell anybody. It was a low point in my
How has he made it up to his mom? “Oh my God, who has my American Express bills?” he quipped with a grin. “She’s still taking it back from me! I have always worked so hard to try to make my parents proud. Nothing I can give them will ever repay them for doing such an incredible job in raising us.
“I got really lucky with my parents. My strength comes from my mother; my wisdom comes from my father. I am spending my lifetime trying to make them proud.”
He continued, “My mother is easy to spoil—flying her here (LA) or to London, or wherever we are, to be with my angels. There’s nothing my mother loves more than being with her grandchildren. That, to her, is everything. She is like me. We are simple people. So if I got her a Mercedes, she would just laugh at me. We weren’t raised materialistic in that regard.
“One time, I posted my mom’s philosophy about Christmas and present-giving on Facebook. She always used to say to me, ‘It’s not so much the present, Vin. What people really want is for you to just write their names down. A card where you write that person’s name is what touches him the most.’ There’s so much truth to that. It’s the personal connection that’s more important than property. At least, that’s the way I was raised.
“So I can’t describe myself as a big spender because anyone who knows me, including Paul, would have told you that my mind is always on this thing that I have been blessed to be part of, which is making this (cinematic) world and this mythology on screen.”
(E-mail the columnist at [email protected] Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.)
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