The latest chapter in the car-hijacking Fast & Furious saga is out this weekend.
Happily, original car-hijacking star Vin Diesel is reprising his role as deep-voiced, bald-headed car-hijacker Dominic Toretto.
But how much do we really know about Vin?
Is he just a jobbing actor with a deep voice and a bald head who's lucked his way into a few straight-to-DVD quality movies? Or is he a frustrated producer/director of deep, complex, historical epics?
Join us for a career recap of the man currently known the world over as the car-hijacking man in those Fast & Furious films with a bald head and a deep voice...
1. The Early Years (1967-1990)
Mark Sinclair Vincent (no - Vin Diesel isn't his real name) grew up in New York and started acting at age seven after being caught breaking into a theatre.
Dreamed of being a screenwriter as much as an actor while at college. Earned a living as a nightclub bouncer for a while, hence his nom de door Vin Diesel (a sliced down version of his surname coupled to the fact that his buddies thought he was so energetic he must run on diesel!!!)
VIN FACT: He has a non-identical twin named Paul Diesel - who must also be quite energetic.[page-break]
2. First Roles
Blink and you'll miss him as a hospital orderly in Awakenings (1990).
Gets chunkier screentime as a doomed grunt in Saving Private Ryan (1998) (after Spielberg clocked Diesel's self-written short Multi-Facial) and as a bald-headed, deep-voiced financial bottom-feeder in Boiler Room (2000).
VIN FACT: He pulled out of doing Reindeer Games opposite Ben Affleck because he didn't like the script and wasn't getting on with director John Frankenheimer.
3. Big Break
“Once the dying starts, this little psycho fuck family of ours is gonna rip itself apart...”
David Twohy's low-budget, high-concept sci-fi monster flick Pitch Black (2000) booted Diesel into the big time as cyber-eyed, bald-headed, deep-voiced, anti-hero Riddick.
The studio knew he was something special – they demanded the ending be changed so that Riddick survived.
VIN FACT: He credits the book Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices by Rick Schmidt with teaching him everything he needed to know about making movies.[page-break]
4. Auto Erotica
After the indie hit came the blockbuster.
The Fast And The Furious' (2001) combo of hot cars, hot chicks and a bald man with a deep voice (growling quotable tosh like, “I live my life a quarter-mile at a time...”) raced to $207 million at the box office, gobsmacking audiences and critics en route.
Just how dumb must Rolling Stones' Peter Travers have felt after declaring it a “career-killing skid mark”?
Vin didn't stick around for the sequel, though. He had other places to be...
VIN FACT: He's half African American, half Italian.
5. X Marks The Spot
“I like anything fast enough to do something stupid in,” deadpans action-junkie turned secret agent deep-voiced bald man Xander Cage in xXx (2002).
The adreno-rammed actioner certainly shaped up to its hero's philosophy, pitting Vin's Gen-X James Bond against a bunch of Eurotrash criminals out to destroy the world.
“An exhilarating counterblast to the James Bond franchise” grinned The Guardian and Diesel probably didn't need his astrologer mother to tell him his future was bright. Or at least that's how it seemed...
VIN FACT: Revolution Pictures wanted Diesel for the title role of Hellboy (2004) but director Guillermo Del Toro insisted on Ron Perlman.[page-break]
6. From The Sublime To The Riddick-ulous...
“I was being offered three franchises at the same time - Pitch Black, xXx and The Fast And The Furious - and I had to choose. I couldn't do all three!"
That was Vin's reasoning for passing on the sequels to xXx and The Fast And The Furious.
Oops! Maybe he should have read the script to the Pitch Black sequel first...
“Tight, focused and rather good,” was The Times' on-the-money review of the original Riddick movie. “A sprawling mess of future-gothic hysteria,” was the best they could say about The Chronicles Of Riddick (2004) - a film so bad it almost managed to destroy Judi Dench's career (she played holographic oracle-woman Aereon).
VIN FACT: Diesel gained 30 pounds to portray real-life mobster Giacomo 'Jackie' DiNorscio in Sidney Lumet's Find Me Guilty (2006).
7. The Vin-derness Years
It's just as well VD had Tigon Studios - the videogame company he set up as part of his Chronicles Of Riddick deal to keep him busy in the mid Noughties.
His movie career was floundering. Post-flop, the planned Riddick trilogy was binned and his biggest hit was sub-Arnie kiddy-tosh The Pacifier (bald-headed, deep-voiced, former special-forces op becomes nanny to a bunch of kids).
Lumet's Find Me Guilty didn't even get a UK release, while generic future-noir Babylon AD skulked in and out of cinemas without being noticed much last summer.
The only bright spot was an enthusiastic reception to his unbilled cameo in The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)...
VIN FACT: He has one child, a daughter named Hania Riley, born in April 2008.[page-break]
"If someone defines my ego as being the last arbiter of quality on a script, then so be it,” says Diesel.
“My ego is so big that I'm going to say, 'Whoa, kemosabe!' My ego is big enough that I'm going to say, 'Not interested...'”
It took the prize of a producer credit to bring Diesel back on board for Fast And Furious (2009) – this time if he didn't like the script, he had the power and profile to change it.
His efforts paid off, though. Fast And Furious topped the US box office and looks set to do the same here.
VIN FACT: Before the idea of reuniting the original cast came up, Fast And Furious was simply going to be a movie about Diesel's bald-headed, deep-voiced car-hijacking character.
9. Future Schlocks
One hit is seemingly enough to drag Vin's career off the ropes.
The chances of there being more Riddick movies suddenly has a heartbeat for the first time in years and there's even a return for VD to the stalled xXx franchise in development.
Best of all, as far as Diesel is concerned, is the possibility that he might get to direct, write and star in his dream project - a biopic of dark-ages military mastermind Hannibal who probably had a bald head and a deep voice.
"It's about overcoming insurmountable odds," he says. “It takes someone with enough of an ego to believe they can tell this story better than anybody else... They can't stop me. They can stomp me, kick me when I'm down... But they won't stop me. Cross your fingers for me, brother!"
VIN FACT: He's a huge Dungeons & Dragons fan and once starred in a breakdancing video.