Vin Diesel greets me on his way into The Regency Hotel in NYC with a friendly “hello.” Even though reporters are kept waiting, we can hear him glad-handing outside. When they try to move him along to keep him on schedule post-interview, he makes sure he addresses every question.
That’s just the type of guy he is – always trying to keep people happy.
“He’s quite a number,” costar Melanie Thierry says. “The only thing I can say is he’s always late.”
Vin, 41, takes the lead in Babylon, A.D., which is in theaters now. The futuristic sci-fi thriller places the father of one in the role of a terrorist smuggler. Today, he’s fresh off the plane from the Dominican Republic, where he’s shooting a short film prequel with the help of the students in his NYU professor dad’s nonprofit acting school.
“We take inner city, underprivileged kids and put them through a six-week guerilla filmmaking course,” he says. “The coolest thing in the world was that these kids who had never known anything about film and had been going to this school, are now hands-on working for a huge Universal picture. How cool. You don’t have that here – if you went to NYU, you couldn’t be guaranteed to be working on set of a major motion picture.”
Although Vin gets joy from helping others, it isn’t easy to win him over.
“I always have issues with trust,” he says. “I’m a New Yorker. Time and experience helps, but trust comes from the gut. You’ve gotta trust people from your gut. It’s that feeling that you get. You’re forced with deciding whether you’re going to trust someone by relying on your intuition.”
How does Vin maintain his muscles?
“I do practice mixed martial arts as more of a recreational thing,” he says. “I have a lot of friends who have been heavyweight champions in the mixed martial arts world.”
In the film, Vin fast-forwards to 2016. What is his vision for the future?
“There are going to be border issues,” he laments. “We’re coming into an age where the borders will be strong but our society will be numb to it and won’t recognize what’s happening because of our freedom in the virtual world with the Internet.”
He continues, “On some level, I think we’re satisfied with the freedom that we have in the virtual world and we won’t realize that the borders in the physical world have been shut. That’s the bait and switch.”
Babylon, A.D. is in theaters now.