Making xXx helped Vin Diesel deal with Paul Walker's death

Making xXx helped Vin Diesel deal with Paul Walker's death
Vin Diesel (left) enjoys showing Xander Cage's evolution.
PHOTO: UIP

US actor Vin Diesel returns to a role that helped put him on the map in 2002 - the extreme sports poster child who went undercover for the US government to take on Russian baddies.

In xXx: Return Of Xander Cage, Diesel's titular character is recruited by the National Security Agency's Jane Marke (Toni Collette) when Pandora's Box, a gadget capable of hijacking and weaponising satellites, is pocketed by the brazen Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his crew.

The film, which is showing in cinemas, also stars Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, Australian actress Ruby Rose and The Vampire Diaries' Nina Dobrev.

Diesel, 49, is best known for his role in the Fast And The Furious franchise.

What brought you back to the world of xXx?

I had started envisioning doing another xXx after the fourth Fast & Furious in 2009.

That movie was successful and restarted the series, and people asked me to do the same for xXx.

After that it was a matter of finding the right time, but it never presented itself.

There was never a large enough window to make it.

And then, after the experience of Furious 7... (following the death of Fast And Furious co-star Paul Walker in 2013), 2014 and 2015 were tough years to have to finish a movie without a friend.

That was such a tumultuous and arduous experience that, quite frankly, I never needed a character where I laughed and smiled more than at that moment in my life.

I found myself needing a movie where I could simply have fun again.

And I'm so happy I did this. It was healing on so many different levels.

What was your input into the creation of Xander Cage? How have the two of you changed since the first film?

That's the compelling part about playing a character in a series.

You evolve off-screen and you have to evolve on-screen.

Those factors have to work together.

In the first film, Xander Cage was a lone soldier.

And in this film, he's willing to work with a team.

That is a critical difference and a clear evolution.

That is what's so fascinating and compelling for me - to do these characters over a long time.

I didn't get much to work with in the first film except the fact that this guy was an extreme-sports athlete at first and then a kind of James Bond.

We developed a swagger to the character and found that there was something delicious about a guy who had an unapologetic but very fun vanity who was really just seeking thrills.

With Dom Toretto (his character in the Fast And Furious franchise), it was about a guy looking to protect a family.

Xander, is seeking to protect the right to have a thrill - to do the extreme.

There are so many amazing stunts and action sequences. Is there one that stands out?

All of it was fun to train for and all of it was fun to do.

That's what I needed with this movie.

I needed to have fun.

And the fun started when I was behind my computer sifting through thousands of extreme-sports clips and narrowing it down to some I thought would be just fantastic on film.

Working with my team, my director, DJ Caruso, the writer and our stunt coordinators, and coming up with ideas - that was so much fun.

When it was time to start rehearsing these different sequences, that became fun.

When I was skateboarding in the Dominican Republic in preparation for this movie, I remembered being a kid and skateboarding through the streets of New York (laughs).

And then of course filming it was just a blast.

What was the biggest challenge making the film?

Honestly, the biggest challenge in putting it all together was just finding the time to do it.

Making that time.

That was the biggest challenge.

It wasn't until I needed it for my own personal kind of healing that I made the time.

Where do you see the future of the xXx franchise going?

I think we're going to know once the film opens.

It's something that's clearly a labour of love.

It's something that was so fun to make.

And we've been successful in assembling a cast that I can't wait to work with again - such a great, global, wonderful cast.

Stand a chance to win xXx: Return Of Xander Cage movie premiums.

Visit www.tnp.sg to find out how.


This article was first published on January 21, 2017.
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