When Steven Spielberg cast Vin Diesel in 1998’s war movie Saving Private Ryan, he did so on the strength of a 20-minute short that Diesel had directed and starred in. 1995’s Multi-Facial was about an actor who has trouble getting cast because he has a multi-ethnic background. Diesel followed this up with the feature-length Strays, which he also directed and which played at the Sundance Film Festival.
Although Diesel has been heavily involved behind-the-scenes as a producer in both the Riddick and Fast and Furious franchises, he hasn’t actually directed a movie since 1997. And according to Diesel, Spielberg recently told him that this is a “crime of cinema.”
“Speaking of Steven Spielberg, I saw him recently, and he had said to me, ‘When I wrote the role for you in Saving Private Ryan, I was obviously employing the actor, but I was also secretly championing the director in you, and you have not directed enough. That is a crime of cinema and you must get back in the directing chair,” Diesel told The National in March 2020 (which is an English-language publication in the UAE) “I haven’t directed enough.”
When Diesel was at Sundance in 1997 with Strays, he met Jon Favreau. Favreau had written and starred in Swingers in 1996, and wrote, directed and starred in Made in 2001. “It’s so funny, because we were both alumni at Sundance as filmmakers, and he goes off to do Disney‘s Lion King, Marvel‘s Iron Man and all these great movies. It’s fascinating. I kind of go ‘Steven is right'” Diesel says.
When Justin Lin recently left the set of the tenth Fast and Furious movie after two weeks, many people thought that Diesel would hop into the directing seat. However, Louis Letterier ended up stepping in to helm the first of what is supposed to be a two-part climax to the long-running Fast franchise.
While we wait for Fast 10, check out our guide to the Fast and Furious characters – ranked.