Vin Diesel continues rolling strong, and mid-July is an annual reminder that he’s rolling stronger with age. Who knew Vin Diesel would become such a wonderful vintage, and age as he has. The action star with some acting chops is rapidly approaching the half-century mark (he just turned 52), but there’s so much to do before he kicks it and stretches into the golden years. As more people become fans of the teddy bear tough guy known as Vin Diesel, we’d like to let them know a few things they’d likely never guess.
Here are 10 lesser-known facts about Vin Diesel. Enjoy!
10. What’s In a Name?
For those under the impression that a badass like Vin Diesel deserves to have a real name like Vin Diesel, we’re gonna have to let you down…though we’ll let you down gently. Vin Diesel is not the real name of the actor who has taken to the big screen to bring us up-the-ante action flick after-action flick. Vin Diesel changed his name for screen to offer a little more flair, but he was born Mark Sinclair. Mark never knew his biological father, and he’s not quite sure where he sits on the scope and scale of ethnicity, but we can all agree that there is some unique stuff going on with the Diesel. Vin took the Vin from Vincent, the surname of his stepfather, who raised him along with his mother, Delora.
Source: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
9. Father of Three
Vin Diesel is very private about his personal life. He considers himself of an exclusive tribe in Hollywood — an actor who doesn’t want their life all over the front pages of magazines. He cites gentlemen like Harrison Ford, Robert DeNiro, and his late friend, Paul Walker, as sources of “private life private” inspiration. Stated, Vin does have a personal life, and it’s pretty traditional when considering Hollywood gossip. He and Paloma Jimenez hitched their wagons together back in 2007, and the couple has welcomed three children into the world. It’s hard to imagine the hard-bodied Xander Cage as a papa, but he most certainly is, and he does a fine job keeping his kids away from the spotlights that he so easily attracts. Are more kids on the way? Who’s to say? We wouldn’t be surprised to see Vin having kids well into a ripe old age.
Source: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
8. Video Breakin’
Many have seen it, but many more haven’t. Vin Diesel had some moves in the 1980s, long before he made the move to movies. He wasn’t a one-trick pony. Vin was into the early hip-hop scene, growing up in its birthplace, New York City. He made the most of his forays into the art and subculture, even appearing in some break dancing videos. He also loved to rap, making him an amazing, 1980s cliche: a rappin’ b-boy. The videos are widespread, available all over the internet. And Vin…well, he looks as cool as you’d imagine in his Adidas tracksuit, headband, and mini-fro. Oh yeah, Vin had hair. Lots of it. What he lacked in on-camera presence at an early age, he made up for with sheer charisma, and love for the breakin’. If you wanna score some early break dancing moves, Vin can still offer up a tutorial. Watch here.
7. Iron Giant
Before Vin was able to proudly proclaim, “I am Groot,” he voiced another beast of the silver screen. Vin scored the voice role of the Iron Giant in The Iron Giant (which still plays in theaters regularly) in 1999, as he was reaching a boiling point in Hollywood. 1999 was a very good year for Vin as his first major features were released, but 1998 was the year the lightning struck, and he scored roles in Saving Private Ryan, and The Iron Giant, alongside some people who were already at the top of their game, and looking down from the pinnacle of the A on the A-list. In The Iron Giant, he starred alongside Jennifer Aniston, and Harry Connick Jr., and offered up one of the most underrated animated films of all-time, and he ran into no trouble holding his own with the established veterans.
Source: Screenshot via Warner Bros.
6. Could Have Been Daredevil
How about a little woulda, shoulda, coulda, without the woulda and shoulda…? Remember the easily forgettable Daredevil from 2003? The one starring Ben Affleck? Did you know Vin Diesel was offered the titular role before Affleck and turned it down? In the process of saying no, he created another icon: xXx. It’s crazy to think that Vin was making good decisions in cinema before he knew what he was doing. xXx wasn’t a perfect piece of cinema, and it didn’t completely interfere with the Daredevil shooting schedule, but Vin opted to focus on promoting xXx over saying yes to Matt Murdock. The move thrust Vin into the spotlight. Now, we can all get excited about xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, set for a 2017 release…when Vin hits the ripe old age of 50!
Source: Screenshot via 20th Century Fox
5. Crisp and Clean
Speaking of Xander Cage, that dude is tatted up like few heroes before him. That character may have even been a catalyst to the tattoo craze of the early 21st century. Either way, when it comes to Vin Diesel, and all of his cool tattoos, there’s something everyone should know: he gets his art done by a makeup artist…because his tattoos are fake. Vin Diesel has kept the bod crisp and clean throughout his career and treats his physiology as a blank canvas. Whether he was guided in this direction by one of his early acting teachers, or he made the decision on his own, it was a good one. People hoping to play a variety of roles should keep themselves as paint-able as possible. It leaves more to the imagination of the director, the actor and the creative team as they enter the process of developing a character.
Source: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
4. The Beginning of Art
More delightful trivia from the life of Vin Diesel — Vin’s stepfather, Irving Vincent, was an acting teacher, coach and great lover of the theatre. One might think that Vin was led to toward the wings of the stage by this influence, but that’s not quite how it happened. Before he was Vin, Mark Sinclair and some of his buddies, along with his brother, broke into a Greenwich Village theater to vandalize it. In the process, they were caught by the theater director who gave the kids two options: she would call the police, or they could perform in the theater’s next production. Vin opted for the latter and continued working with the theater group until he was coming of age. From there, he ventured to New York’s famed Hunter College, and began studying creative writing, specializing in writing for the screen.
Source: AP Photo/Thibault Camus
3. Total Dungeons & Dragons Nerd
There’s no way Vin Diesel is a Dungeons & Dragons nerd, is there!? Oh yeah, he is! In every sense. He loves the game, and he has been playing for over three decades. He has even taught some of his silver screen co-stars how to play the popular pastime/preoccupation, based on cards, dice, characters, and role-playing. One example of his tutelage is dame Judi Dench. For those under the impression that Dungeons & Dragons is something only nerds do, this will help redefine exactly what a “nerd” is. Yes, it’s silly that people are painted into boxes based on interests as if they would have no other interests. So, in some strange way, Vin Diesel is a bit of a Renaissance Man, opting for the pen, the camera, a bit of B-Boying, Dungeons & Dragons, fatherhood and crushing stereotypes! We’re excited to see what Vin will do as he ages to full maturity.
Source: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
2. He Breaks All The Hollywood Rules
When you’re starring in big movies produced by studios, there is the guarantee of a great payday. This works in favor of the actors, as they’re offered a minimum rate through the SAG-AFTRA union, and it’s based on the budget of a film. The bigger the budget, the higher the minimum. However, most stars negotiate way above the minimum as a “pay-or-play” salary. Vin is a risk-taker when it comes to his business dealings, taking roles and producing movies. Any big-time producer would tell a fellow industry professional, “Never invest your own money into a project.” Vin Diesel ignored this unwritten rule, and negotiated to own the rights of the Riddick stories, instead of taking a payday for his fan-favorite cameo in Fast and The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift. He then went on to fund Riddick out of pocket, independently. That’s brassy.
Source: Screenshot via Universal Pictures
1. Spotted By Spielberg
Vin Diesel enjoyed a rocket ride to success and the A-List, thanks in part to the eyes of Steven Spielberg. The iconic director was able to take in an independent project that featured Vin as the star, but more impressively, was written and directed by Diesel. Spielberg was so impressed by Vin, he offered him the opportunity to read for the role of Adrian Caparzo, in what has widely become recognized as one of the greatest war films ever made, Saving Private Ryan. Vin got into the mix with acting vets like Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Adam Goldberg, and Edward Burns, and fit like a hand in glove. He was the young muscle/tough guy of a group sent to save Private Ryan, yet it was his tenderness and compassion in the throes of war that led to his undoing. Nearly 20 years later, Vin continues to roll strong!
Source: Screenshot via DreamWorks Distribution