Mark Vincent (he apparently got the name Vin Diesel while
he was working as a bouncer) was born July 18, 1967, in New
York, NY and was raised by his astrologer and psychologist
mother, and stepfather, a teacher and theater director.
Growing up in an artist's housing project in Greenwich Village
with his non-identical twin brother Paul and younger sisters,
a young Diesel led a life of uncertainty, not knowing his
biological father. However, despite his low-class upbringing,
it was obvious that he wanted to be a performer from the age
of three, after his mother had to stop him from trying to
step into the ring at the circus -- he wanted his performance
A chance encounter that led to Diesel's acting career occurred
when he was seven years of age. Vin and his friends had broken
into a local theater, and rather than getting caught and reprimanded
for trespassing, Diesel and his buds were handed scripts and
were offered $20 dollars per week, on the condition that they
show up after school every day. This served as Vin's first
"real" paying job.
But his road to success wasn't paved with good luck and fortune.
The closest he came to acting professionally was in a Theatre
of the New City production, in addition to several very off
Broadway plays. Diesel had to take on jobs such as bouncer
at several exclusive New York City nightclubs in order to
finance his film dreams. He had taken matters into his own
hands when he left Hunter College in New York in the midst
of studying for an English degree, in order to get an earlier
start in filmmaking.
When his mother brought home the book Feature Films at Used
Car Prices in order to encourage Diesel, it pushed him to
take control of his destiny and create his own movies in which
to star. He did, and his filmmaking, writing, producing, and
starring role in the film short Multi-Facial (based on his
experiences of trying to make it as an actor) screened at
Cannes Film Festival in 1995. It received positive reviews,
and the extremely low-budget film -- at a cost of $3,000 in
a total of three days of shooting -- led to bigger things.
Despite the lackluster success of his next independent feature,
Strays, which was a Sundance entry in 1997, his performance
in Multi-Facial was noticed by a certain important person
in Hollywood. Steven Spielberg caught his performance in Mutli-Facial
and created the role of Private 1st Class Adrian Caparzo in
Saving Private Ryan for Diesel. He also impressed the director
of the animated film, The Iron Giant, and thanks to his guttural
voice, he was cast as the voice of the title character in
the 1999 film.
While it took a while for Diesel to convince filmmakers to
take him seriously, 2000 was a year of star-making roles for
the actor. Two of his films opened on the same weekend --
the sci-fi Pitch Black and drama Boiler Room -- two roles
that couldn't be more different in the acting range. Diesel
added yoga and pilates to his regular workout for his Pitch
Black role as Riddick, while he saw his scummy role as Chris
the telemarketer in Boiler Room as a way of redeeming himself
for the job he once held as a telemarketer, selling overpriced
But it was in the summer of 2001 that Diesel proved he could
draw in audiences as a leading man, in the testosterone pumped
The Fast and the Furious, as Jordana Brewster's older brother,
Dominic. The film was tops at the box-office and took in millions,
and served to prove Diesel's star appeal even further.
After a low-key role in 2001's Knockaround Guys, audiences
will see more of Diesel in XXX, slated for a 2002 release
and co-starring fellow intimidator Samuel L. Jackson, and
The Chronicles of Riddick, slated for 2003, which Diesel had
a hand in writing.
While Vin Diesel has always wanted to differentiate himself
from other thespians, he certainly stands in a league of his
own: In addition to his directing credits for Multi-Facial
and Strays, Diesel also flexed his producing muscles for XXX
(his production team is called One Race) and used his writing
skills for The Chronicles of Riddick and his indie pictures.
Known for his trademark voice, (almost as recognizable as
James Earl Jones'), his ability to play a multitude of races
(he apparently has traces of Irish, Italian, German, Dominican,
Mexican, and a lot of other ethnicities), and his intimidating,
overbearing frame, film critic Roger Ebert has dubbed Vin
Diesel the action star to watch out for in the next few years.
Vin Diesel has been allegedly linked to model/actress Summer
Altice, and his Fast and the Furious co-star, Michelle Rodriguez