Check out this archive Vin Diesel interview on his film THE PACIFIER, with director Adam Shankman! Have you got a top action-filled script, or a family friendly comedy destined for the big time? Enter our contests to find out- enter HERE! A daily news article from the WriteMovies archive first published March 2005 by Christina Radish.
Putting Diesel to the Test
|Monday, March 7, 2005
So how does a director make sure the kiddies won’t be scared away by the action star enlisted for a little PG-rated fun? The answer involves bringing along someone who still uses a pacifier.
By Christina Radish.
Unsure of whether or not Vin Diesel could convincingly pull off the lead role in his project The Pacifier, director Adam Shankman admits to testing him first.
“Before I agreed to do the movie, I very manipulatively brought my 9-month-old nephew to the script meeting to see how Vin was going to be with a kid,” admits Shankman during a recent interview with FilmStew. “I made up a story about why I had to bring the kid with me. Everybody was looking around like, ‘There’s a baby in the script meeting?’”
“But within five minutes, he had the kid in his arms,” the choreographer-turned-filmmaker continues. “He was talking about character or plot of whatever, while he was patting my nephew on the back. And, my nephew, who’s a tough, judgmental little tiger, could not keep his hands off Vin’s face. He just loved Vin so much. It was so natural to see him holding a child and, if all the information I’ve garnered from women is correct, seeing somebody like that with a baby is a very sexy thing. I was not scared, at that point.”
Based on this weekend’s box office returns, it appears that Shankman’s nephew deserves a pat on the back. Even Diesel admits that he was unsure how people would react to the sight of Riddick as Mr. Mom.
“I haven’t done a film that says, ‘We’re promising laughter,’” explains the 37-year-old former bouncer. “What was clever about this was that the script played on people’s perception of previous roles that I’ve played. It was already built into the script. So, that made it even easier.”
“It was like, ‘Okay, you’re going to see a guy that you’re familiar with. It’s just that the situation and scenario will be drastically different than you’d expect.’”
In The Pacifier, Diesel plays Shane Wolfe, a Navy SEAL whose latest safeguarding teen rebel Zoe (Brittany Snow), 14-year-old Seth (Max Thieriot), 8-year-old Lulu (Morgan York), toddler Peter and baby Tyler. Diesel’s transformation from action hero to caring father-figure is of course widely reminiscent of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, and Shankman for one is proud of the sincerity of this new effort.
“I’m such a train wreck of a human being,” he says. “But somehow, there’s sweetness and sincerity in all my work, which is sort of nauseating, but at the same time, audiences seem to adore it. They eat it up like Campbell’s Soup. I’m really proud that Vin trusted me to do this, because when you get somebody who’s so iconically locked into a persona, it’s risky.”
And if there is to be a The Pacifier 2, Diesel seems like he would be up for the challenge. “I had so much fun working with the kids,” says the fraternal twin of Paul Vincent, a sound editor on Diesel’s 1994 debut short Multi-Facial. “I think it’s so inaccurate because when you work with kids, all you have to do is step out of the way and let them shine. It was so easy. Half of the time, my job was to get them to stop crying. That was half the task.”
“When I went on to do the Sidney Lumet picture Find Me Guilty, I would be standing on site, rocking back and forth,” adds Diesel. “Sidney would ask, ‘Why are you rocking back and forth? You’re a 48-year-old attorney that’s living in prison. Why are you doing this?’ The reason was that I was so accustomed to having a baby that I kept rocking back and forth, like I had a baby on me.”
Diesel says the whole experience of The Pacifier has even got him thinking about starting his own brood of loveable troublemakers. “What’s interesting about this project – beyond all the experiences – was this relationship with the 9-month-old baby,” he maintains. “On my weekends, I’d be thinking about going back to set on Monday, just to see the baby.”
“It really starts to tell you something when, all of a sudden, you’re thinking, ‘I’m going psycho over here. I’ve got to get back. I’ve got to see that baby,’” he continues with a laugh. “It was a very profound relationship and it had a dramatic effect on me.”
Taking it a step further, Diesel’s co-stars reveal that his aptitude with the diaper set led to a most surprising on-set nickname – The Baby Whisperer. “The kids just came to him,” recalls Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame. “You’d think that because he’s such an imposing figure, they’d be slightly afraid of him. But, he’s fun to climb on.”
“They really clung to him and hung out with him and looked up to him, and he had an easy time with that. He has an even-tempered, quiet way about him.”
Co-star Brittany Snow concurs. “Vin just knew exactly how to handle them,” she says. “The baby would cry and Vin would hold him and do all these weird sounds, and the baby would stop crying. It was really cute.”
“Sometimes, you would see him going around the set with a kid and wonder, ‘Why isn’t he in his trailer?’ He was playing around with the kids the entire time.”
Diesel suggests the key to his success was pretty basic. “The secret was creating a real organic relationship with the babies from the very beginning,” he explains. “That meant, the day I went into rehearsal, the first thing I did was strap one of the babies on and just walk around. The objective was to constantly keep them smiling because if you didn’t, it went into the waterworks and you could be stuck there for another two hours.”
In the end, Diesel had more trouble with the web-footed member of the family, Gary, the pet duck. “The duck was supposedly very gentle,” he says, chuckling. “When they described how the bite would feel, they basically [pinched me] and said, ‘It’ll never be more than that.’ I said, ‘Are you sure that it’s not going to draw blood and I’m going to get infected by some kind of disease?’ They said, ‘No, it’s never drawn blood. It’s fine.’
“I was in a scene with Faith Ford, we were going through our lines, and I hear some splatter on the counter,” he continues. “So, now I have a duck as an earring, holding my ear, and he finally decides to fly down because he doesn’t want to be suspended in air on my ear.”
“My ear was bleeding. Everybody ran from the set because they promised it wouldn’t make me bleed. It was so funny. It was all in good fun. My ear is okay.”
With the success of The Pacifier and another dramatic change of pace on the horizon, with this year’s Lifetime Oscar recipient Sidney Lumet at the helm, Diesel would appear to be diversifying in just the right way. His co-star Faith Ford, for one, sees many more successful films in Diesel’s future.
“The only thing that makes you see that Vin is a star is what he’s like on film,” she suggests. “He had amazing presence and he’s smart, but he also plays around and has a lot of fun, which makes him accessible.”
“He’s very vulnerable, and I look forward to seeing what he’s going to do in the future, as a result of having done this,” adds Ford. “I think it will be really great for him. I think he’s only scratched the surface of what he can do.”
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