Vin Diesel Sees 'Babylon A.D.' & Real World Intersecting

Babylon A.D. movie poster

On the big screen, Vin Diesel has played his share of bad-ass bruisers but off screen, he's more apt to talk about Shakespeare and U.S. foreign policy than brag about his cinematic body count.

It's no surprise, then, that Diesel doesn't look upon his latest film Babylon A.D. as a return to his shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later roots.

The actor says he was drawn to the futuristic actioner for its European flavor rather than for the chance to deliver more blood & thunder.

"I have to be honest with you: this movie was not about genre for me," he says. "I was lucky enough to work with Sidney Lumet on `Find Me Guilty' but you rarely get the opportunity to branch out. Babylon A.D. was one of those opportunities. I wanted to try something that had more of a European feel to it. It's an aspect of the movie which felt unique."

Directed by French filmmaker Matthieu Kassovitz ("La Haine"), Babylon A.D. is a race-against-time thriller about a hardened warrior named Toorop (Diesel) who is assigned to escort Aurora (Melanie Thierry) and her guardian Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh) on a 6,000 mile journey from Eastern Europe to New York City.

Of course, Aurora isn't exactly the innocent creature she initially seems to be. Fluent in 19 languages and capable of manning an ancient submarine, the young woman is the perfect combination of human and machine.

"I liked that Toorop is a skeptic, a cynic, not trusting of anyone," says Diesel. "I feel like there's a part of that in all of us. To exercise that in a character felt exciting for me."

The movie offers a grim vision of the future. Nuclear mishaps have made large areas of the planet uninhabitable. Wars are raging everywhere. And crossing borders requires a lot more than a passport and a plane ticket.

Diesel shudders to think that Babylon A.D. might be a snapshot of what the world will look like in a couple dozen years.

"The whole film is basically about [the difficulty] of transporting somebody across a border and, I think without getting too far into the Patriot Act, we're coming into an age when borders will be strong.

"And I think that our society, for the most part, will be numb to it and won't recognize what is happening because we have our freedom in the virtual world and our freedom on the Internet. So subconsciously, on some level, we're satisfied with the kinds of freedom we have…I think it's a 'bait and switch'."

Upcoming for Diesel are a number of long-anticipated projects. In 2009, the actor will reprise his role as Dominic Toretto in the fourth installment of "The Fast and the Furious" franchise.

The actor skipped the second and third movies (except for a cameo appearance) but is excited about the latest entry, which is a prequel to "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift."

"It's going to be interesting," he says. "If you'll notice [the title] just says 'Fast and Furious' and doesn't have a number on it. It's going to be interesting how they present it. Are they going to pay attention to the chronological order?

"I think what [Universal] is trying to say is that this is the true sequel to the first one because we've got all of the original [actors] back. We've got Jordanna Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker."

Diesel hopes 2009 will also bring the third film in "The Chronicles of Riddick" trilogy.

"David Twohy is writing `Dark Athena' as we speak," says the actor. "The videogame is continuing full force. It's fun….and I'm very excited about what David is doing."

And what of "Hannibal," Diesel's long-planned dream project about the Carthaginian general who rode an elephant across the Alps to attack Rome in third century B.C.?

"`Hannibal,' you beast," says Diesel with a laugh. "It's my Moby Dick. I'm directing an animated 'Hannibal' that will act as a prequel. It's about Hannibal as a boy. So it's a look at a boy and his elephant. It'll be very fun."

One of the reasons Diesel is jazzed about animation is that he's looking forward to the day when he can show the cartoon to his four-month old daughter.

Even though he has a full plate at the moment, Diesel is not ruling out a sequel to "The Pacifier," his $198 million-grossing hit from 2005.

"That's how the whole damn baby thing started," he says. "I worked with those babies for too long and I said, 'It's time.'

"I actually did 'The Pacifier' for my niece and nephew because they were always saying, 'We're not going to be able to see any of your movies, Uncle Vin.' So, I did that movie and now my nephew is saying, 'When are you going to do another "Pacifier"?' So, we'll see."

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