The Fast and Furious franchise is still riding strong, returning some of the best results in the box office in recent years. This has led to extreme hype for #Fast8, the first trailer for which will drop on December 11. Vin Diesel, who plays Dominic Toretto, the Corona-drinking, barbecue-cooking star of the franchise, believes that its going to be so good it may even win an Oscar. Check out the behind-the-scenes clip below:
Now this is a little far fetched for a tentpole franchise about fast cars, but its this kind of self-belief that makes us love Vin Diesel. We aren't the only ones: recent Forbes evaluations rank the American hero as the current eleventh highest paid actor in Hollywood, earning just over $35 million this year alone. This puts his total valuation up to a whopping $160 million.
But just how has he taken over the entertainment industry quite so convincingly? Here at Movie Pilot we have collated five reasons why. Firstly:
1. He Has His Own Production Company
In 1995, before even making it big in Hollywood, Vin shot and directed his own short film Multi-Facial, setting up his own production company, One Race Films, in order to make it. A short about his own frustration regarding the difficulties of being cast when of mixed-race (Diesel is of ambiguous heritage) it was seen at Cannes by Steven Spielberg himself; who was impressed enough to cast him in Saving Private Ryan. As a result, Diesel has had production credits on many of his films, including the Fast franchise, The Last Witch Hunter, and Babylon A.D. This has allowed him to have a hand in how they are made, thus working best to extend his own brand.
His business operations show his savvy approach to making a profit. In return for a cameo role in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, he opted not for a traditional fee, but instead to have the rights to his Riddick character off Universal, meaning that he could develop him in future films himself. This worked in the long run, the third instalment grossing a tidy $94 million off a $38 million budget. Like Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, he knows that as a non-white actor it can be hard to get traditional acting roles in big films; therefore, like those two, his career has shown the immense power that can be had by controlling the means of production.
2. He Has An Authentic Presence
Vin Diesel is who he is. That's what makes him such a likeable star, as audiences respond to authenticity. He's a Dungeons and Dragons loving geek, he named his daughter after Paul Walker, he only drinks Corona, and his Facebook page shows him talking directly to his fans as if he knows them all personally. This isn't so much an act as the extremely stacked man knowing exactly who he is, being grateful for that fact, and being happy to share his earnest personality with the world.
Most importantly, his love for the Fast franchise is genuine. We can see that from his social media posts and for the way he talks about his late co-star Paul Walker. Toretto isn't so much a character for Vin Diesel as merely an extension of his personality. With many actors seeing the profession as a job, or as a means to build an artistic legacy, Vin Diesel sees his role as Toretto as being part of a family both on and off the screen. This strange inability to distinguish the fiction of the film from the facts of his real life means that its impossible to know where Diesel ends and Toretto begins.
Like Fast And Furious? Check Out:
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- Vin Diesel Says 'God-Sent' Paul Walker Moved Him To Have Children
- Start Your Engines: All You Need To Know About 'Fast 8'
3. He Is A Great Actor
He may be associated most with his action films, but Vin Diesel actually has more dramatic chops than he is given credit for. He first wowed audiences when he was given a supporting role in Saving Private Ryan in 1998. Diesel brings in a devastating performance as a conflicted soldier trying to help an abandoned family in amidst the rubble, only to get shot by a sniper. His death marked an emotional high point for the film, giving it a deserved dramatic depth.
Additionally, as well as working with Steven Spielberg, Vin Diesel also worked with the late New York director Sidney Lumet in Find Me Guilty, in which he portrayed a Mafioso who decided to face charges against him instead of ratting out his friends and family. The film's main hook: he would do it himself. Leading his own dramatic film, it showed that there is much more to Vin Diesel than action fare, although his grizzled personality works to elevate those genre films too. The Fast films should be too stupid to take seriously, yet his presence and acting ability really just sells everything. That's the sign of a true movie star. Yet more than that:
4. He Knows How To Build A Brand
Making a film a box office hit these days isn't just about good directing or world-class acting; it also involves knowing how to play the marketing game. Arguably nobody knows this as well as Vin Diesel, who hasn't just helped build up one or two franchises, but four: The XXX films, The Fast and Furious franchise, the Guardians Of The Galaxy films and The Riddick Trilogy.
With the exception of Tokyo Drift, which was more a spin-off than a continuation of the series, the Furious franchise has been grossing more and more at the box office with each instalment, the latest film making a whopping $1.5 billion dollars! This isn't just a result of better filmmaking and bigger budgets, but also due to the increased ethnic diversity of the cast, the likability of the characters, and the strange longevity of the storyline. Diesel says its like a family, and we see that from the interactions on set, giving the franchise an unusually personal touch to it that many others lack.
Whilst we shall have to wait and see if Fast 8 does as well sans Paul Walker, the brand awareness for the franchise has deepened and deepened to make it a titanic global smash. But it should do very well considering how well:
5. He Engages With His Fans
One can see this with his daily updates to his Facebook and Instagram pages, with videos telling his fans to be inspired and to follow their dreams. He listens to them, he responds to them, he raises money for important causes, and in turn you can see the love and devotion they return to him, leaving lengthy comments on his Facebook page and by making Vin Diesel-inspired fan art. Check out Diesel as an actual angel below:
His success in recent years can be directly linked to the rise of social media, and the innovative way he has used it, building up and utilising a devoted base. With over 100 million followers (sorry, family members) behind him, he already has a huge amount of people with whom to directly promote, share and talk about his movies. In today's day and age that's the strongest weapon you can have.