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Feature: Vin Diesel

Vin's the Man

Vin Diesel He’s driven fast cars, been a futuristic anti-hero, a thrill-seeking secret agent and pacified the kids. We chart the career of the action man of the moment…

For some actors, the path that led them to their chosen profession will have been a predetermined one. For others, such as Vin Diesel, the inaugural road to stardom was as much an accident as it was a perfectly crafted slice of cosmic kismet. At just seven years old, a young boy by the name of Mark Vincent – who had found growing up in New York far from easy due to his multi-cultural heritage (being of African, Italian and Cuban decent) – broke into the Jane Street in New York’s West Village Theatre. With apparent intention of vandalising the place, he and his friends had no sooner entered when they were presented with a surprise guest: the artistic director. Standing theatrically under a spotlight, with a bunch of scripts in her hand, Crystal Field presented each boy with a script and $20 on the understanding that they return every day after school to take part in the theatre’s various projects. Thirty years later that young boy is now Vin Diesel, an A-list actor with a commanding presence that earns him in excess of $10 million per movie. And who said crime doesn’t pay?

Born in New York on July 18, 1967 – along with a non-identical twin brother called Paul (who sports blond hair and blue eyes) – Mark had humble beginnings. He and his family – comprising of his mother (an astrologer) and stepfather (an actor and drama teacher) – resided in the Westbeth artist’s housing project in the city’s Greenwich Village. With little to entertain the youthful occupants of the area, Mark soon became somewhat of a tearaway and a joker, a fact which often landed him in the Principal’s office at various schools. At the age of five, however, his enthusiasm had found an outlet as, during a Westbeth production of Cinderella, he snagged the role of Prince Charming after his brother fell foul of stage fright. The Jane Street Theatre episode spurred Mark on towards a new goal and, with a new, defined identity, his confidence blossomed – aided in part by his new-found fondness for weight-training at the age of 15. Two years later and he had a wealth of theatrical experience under his belt but, at 17, he wasn’t earning enough to pay the bills so looked for a job which suited both his confidence and his now impressive physique. Consequently Mark became a bouncer at some of NY’s most prolific nightclubs and it is here that Mark Vincent took on the significantly more impressive moniker Vin Diesel.

by Harry Thompson

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Movie Idols #37

Photo © Universal Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Movie Idols #37
August 2005
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