Vin Diesel Calls the Shots

Vin Diesel Calls the Shots

This is a PREVIEW of the Vin Diesel cover story in the APRIL 2015 issue.
For the full story and more, download the issue on your iPhone and iPad devices.

He’s the most famous former nightclub bouncer in the world, a high-octane movie star steering not one but four enormous film franchises. But as Furious 7 races into theaters this month, Vin Diesel stops to teach us a master class in confidence and getting your way—two skills worth knowing, whichever side of the red-velvet rope you’re on.

A basket and ice chest are lugged in by Vin Diesel’s anime-eyed assistant, Tiffany, who artfully arranges several square yards of breakfast on the table outside the studio where Diesel is booked to do vocal overdubs for Furious 7, the latest installment in one of his four massive film franchises. But Diesel is still on the road, in the passenger seat of a black Cadillac Escalade, inching through San Fernando Valley traffic on the way to the Warner Bros. lot, miles of freeway between him and the oatmeal and breakfast burritos, French toast, pancakes, smoothies, and juices—more breakfast than one man could possibly eat—that are fanned out across the table like some Department of Agriculture food-group chart. Tiffany, a Salt Lake City native who’s been Diesel’s assistant on his last three pictures, shrugs when asked why this much breakfast. “I just figure I’ll get it all,” she says, “and that way we’re sure he gets what he wants.” Which is what Vin Diesel usually does.

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When Diesel arrives, his side-to-side, arms-rolling gait takes up a lot of hallway. His aviators never leave the bridge of his nose. He wears Nike cross-trainers, jeans, a gray T-shirt with “Alberto Crane Jiu-Jitsu” on the chest and a pair of maned-lion logos at each shoulder. He sits down, glasses bobbing on his long nose as he does an appraising little sniff of the spread, and says, “So what’s up? Give me something good.”

What do you say about Vin Diesel? That he’s well-built? Muscled? Huge? Okay, sure. At this point, he is all those things, but there are probably a million meatheads out there who are bigger, stronger, and more ripped, and they aren’t doing what Diesel’s doing, rescuing not just leading ladies but entire tent-pole franchises, as he did with both the Fast & Furious and Chronicles of Riddick sagas. And last summer he was introduced to a whole new generation of fans by voicing Groot, the most beloved character in the highest-grossing film of the year, Guardians of the Galaxy—franchise No. 3. Clearly Diesel’s more than just those muscles, abs, thighs, and delts—that carapace earned through what looks like a life strapped to a weight bench.

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He and his partner, Paloma Jimenez, the woman he calls the “Mayan princess,” have two kids and are building their dream house in the hills not far from here, a process he concedes is more her responsibility than his. His input: a rain garden. “How about that?” he says. You build a space that’s designed for the rain. I know that sounds crazy. What if there were a rain garden so there would be one spot in your house that, when it rains, it’s a beautiful oasis?”

Rain garden? In perpetually parched California, going into, like, its fifth consecutive year of drought?

Diesel laughs. “You’re right. I know it’s a stupid idea. Forget it. That’s not going to look good on the résumé: ‘He designs rain gardens.’”

He starts on an egg-white burrito, dumping salsa and guacamole on it, taking four surprisingly delicate bites, then drops it. He doesn’t touch the rest of the food.

For the full story on Vin Diesel, download the issue on your iPhone and iPad devices.

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