Vin Diesel is an American actor, writer, director, and producer. While he prefers to identify himself as a “multi-faceted” actor he has played a number of similar roles, as a result of early difficulties finding roles due to his very mixed heritage. He founded the production companies One Race Films, Tigon Studios, and Racetrack Records.
Vin Diesel was born Mark Sinclair Vincent in New York City, the son of Delora, a psychiatrist and astrologer. Diesel has Italian and Black ancestry. He has described himself as “definitely a person of color” and stated that he is “of ambiguous ethnicity – Italian and a lot of other stuff”. Diesel has never met his biological father, and was raised by his African-American stepfather, Irving, an acting instructor and theatre manager. He made his stage debut at age seven when he appeared in the children’s play Dinosaur Door, written by Barbara Garson. The play was produced at Theater for the New City in New York’s Greenwich Village. His involvement in the play came about when he, his brother and some friends had broken into Theater for the New City’s space on Jane Street with the intent to vandalize it. They were confronted by the Theater’s Artistic Director, Crystal Field, who instead of punishing the kids, handed them scripts and offered them parts in the upcoming show. He remained involved with the theatre throughout adolescence, going on to attend the city’s Hunter College, where his creative writing studies led him to begin screenwriting. Diesel became an active film-maker in the early 1990s, first earning notice for the short film Multi-Facial, which was selected for screening at the 1995 Cannes Festival.
In an interview on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, he said that he changed his name to “Vin Diesel” while working as a bouncer at New York City nightclub the Tunnel, because in that business one’s real name is not usually given out. The name “Vin” is simply a shortened version of “Vincent”. He received the nickname “Diesel” from his friends who said he ran off diesel, referring to his non-stop energy.
He has a fraternal twin brother named Paul, a younger brother named Tim, and a sister named Samantha.
Diesel’s first film role was an uncredited appearance in the 1990 film Awakenings. He then produced, directed and starred in the 1994 short film Multi-Facial, a short semi-autobiographical film which follows a struggling actor stuck in the audition process, because he is regarded as either “too black” or “too white”, or not black or white enough. He made his first feature-length film, 1997’s Strays, an urban drama in which he was self-cast as a gang boss whose love for a woman inspires him to try to change his ways. Written, directed and produced by Diesel, the film was selected for competition at the 1997 Sundance Festival, leading to an MTV deal to turn it into a series.
He was then cast in Steven Spielberg’s 1998 Oscar-winning film Saving Private Ryan on the poignancy of his performance in Multi-Facial. He then earned critical acclaim for voice work as the title character in the animation film The Iron Giant. He followed it up with a major role in...
Boiler Room and then got his breakthrough role as the anti-hero Riddick in Pitch Black. He then attained action hero super stardom with the box office hits The Fast and the Furious and xXx.
In 2004, he reprised his role as Pitch Black’s Riddick in The Chronicles of Riddick which did only moderately well at the box office. In 2005 he played a lighthearted role in the comedy film The Pacifier which was a surprise box office success. In 2006 he attempted a dramatic role when he played real-life mobster Jack DiNorscio in Find Me Guilty. Although he was critically acclaimed for his performance, the film bombed at the box office. Later that year he made a cameo appearance in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, reprising his role from The Fast and The Furious. Diesel was originally offered the lead in 2 Fast 2 Furious but turned it down. He was also offered the chance to reprise his role from xXx in xXx: State of the Union but also turned it down. In March 2006, Diesel stated that he was working on a sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick which as of 2008 is still in pre-production stages.
In 2007, he was set to produce and star as Agent 47 in the film adaptation of the video game Hitman, but eventually pulled out from the role and served as executive producer on the film instead. In 2008 he stars in the science-fiction action thriller Babylon A. D.
After seven years, he is reprising his role as Dominic Toretto in the fourth film of The Fast and The Furious series, titled Fast and Furious which will be released in June 2009.
While Diesel was visiting the Dominican Republic in October 2005, a 23-year-old architecture student accused Diesel of trying to have her kicked out of the bar for refusing to go back to his hotel room. Diesel denied the allegations, citing the club’s history of problems unrelated to him.
Diesel reportedly claimed that he prefers dating in Europe, where he is less likely to be recognized and where celebrities are not romantically linked to each other. He prefers to maintain his privacy regarding his personal life. “I come from the Harrison Ford, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino code of silence.” Diesel has played Dungeons & Dragons for over twenty years and wrote the foreword for the commemorative book 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons. In the 30th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons issue of Dragon Magazine, they examine the fact that Diesel played Dungeons & Dragons, and reveal that he had a fake tattoo of his character’s name, “Melkor,” on his stomach while filming xXx.
According to an interview with Curt Schilling, Vin Diesel has a huge interest in World of Warcraft, as evidenced by the installation of a computer game system on one of his cars.
Vin Diesel has a daughter, Hania Riley, born April 2, 2008, with his girlfriend, model Paloma Jimenez. Speaking to An tEolas, an Irish newspaper, Diesel spoke of how he has been seen as a hard man, but is in touch with his soft side as a proud father.