Vin Diesel: Acting is fun, producing is hard, lonely work
Bloodshot star Vin Diesel says once he gets to set, he turns back into a seven-year-old theatre kid in New York
Vin Diesel really, really wants a Golden Globe.
Or so he said many times, at a press conference for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - which organises the annual awards ceremony - to promote his new action flick Bloodshot.
In between taking questions on the movie at the London West Hollywood hotel in Beverly Hills, he did not pass up a single opportunity to wheedle, cajole and joke around with the members.
The 52-year-old US actor started by pretending he would be doing us a favour if he got one.
"I know you cannot wait for the day where you go, 'Our boy, the one whom we saw for decades, the one who was counted out so many times, he persevered.'
"And when that day comes, and you know it's all tricky because there's a lot of politics here in this town, but the day when you're able to give Vin that Golden Globe, you will be giving it to yourself."
Unfortunately for Diesel, flattery won't get him a Globe, even though he kept us laughing.
Fans can safely assume Bloodshot, which opens here tomorrow, will not be a contender.
It is a popcorn movie about the titular soldier (Diesel) killed in combat and brought back to life in a lab. The nanobot things in his blood heal wounds instantaneously and give him super strength.
Diesel is also a producer on Bloodshot, which is based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name and intended to be the first instalment in a series of films set within a Valiant Comics shared cinematic universe.
On his producing role, he said: "The second I get to set, that's the fun part. It's getting there where you are trying to make something out of nothing, that's the hardest work, the most arduous part.
"Once I get to the first day of filming, then I can revert to that seven-year-old who was a theatre performer in New York. I can revert to the craft and the fun of acting."
Diesel takes his responsibilities as a producer seriously because there is a lot of money on the line. He also has the Fast And Furious and Riddick franchises as well as standalone films like XXX: Return Of Xander Cage, The Last Witch Hunter and A Man Apart under his belt.
"When the corporations are relying on you, you lose the ability to go astray or to do a niche project that might be dear to you.
"I believed as a poor kid in New York on the subway that I was going to be the biggest star someday. We are in a different place now. The responsibility of navigating franchises - you have to be the mad scientist behind it all.
"It's the hardest work, maybe sometimes the loneliest work, because how do you come up with these ideas and how do you carry a loyal fan base for that long and adamantly maintain that integrity? I feel as though I've always given you my soul in these films."
Even a question about filming some of Bloodshot's scenes in Budapest ended up leading back to the Globe.
Diesel said: "Okay, I probably shouldn't say this - I didn't make it to Budapest. And you are not somebody that I want to let down, so I am going to film a whole movie in Budapest! Because of you. Did you hear that? Is that clear? When I can give the Golden Globe to my family, my parents, I will do a movie in Budapest. Deal? Deal."
The room exploded in laughter. He carried on, undaunted.
"And Berlin, yes. I want that big bear, the Golden Bear (the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival). It's a big necessity of life."
One location Bloodshot did go to was South Africa.
Diesel recalled how he was asked by the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013, to sign a copy of his 2005 film The Pacifier for Mandela's terminally ill niece, and told him he would make a movie there one day.
"I always had a sense of pride about the fact that this incredibly altruistic and resilient example of a man was born on the same day as I was. And so I said, 'I promise I am going to come to South Africa to make a film.'
"In fact, there was a point in making Bloodshot where I said, if I don't film in South Africa, I won't film the movie."
He took his children there and said they almost brought him to tears on the set.
"They were learning Zulu every day while they were there, while I was filming. And one day, my (12-year-old) daughter Similce and my (10-year-old) son Vincent put on the garb and performed for 500 crew members only in Zulu.
"If my phone worked right now, I would FaceTime them for you and have them sing this song to you. It was a life-changing experience, one of the best experiences of my life."
Diesel has a huge following on Instagram with almost 62 million people and manages it himself because "who would be foolish enough to post the things that I post?"
When someone pointed out that he does not follow the Golden Globes account, a mock rant ensued.
"I don't follow you guys? You didn't give me a damn statue. You are even lucky I talk to you. You want to be real here? Where's my statue? What do you think I'm doing this for? What other accomplishments do you want me to do?
"I did an Ang Lee movie (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk) and got diarrhoea in Morocco, but you didn't even go see the movie. What's this world come to?"
Well, if there were a Globe for most entertaining press conference, Diesel would deserve it, hands down.
The writer is the chair of the board of directors of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards
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