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Exclusive: Vin Diesel Talks Fast & Furious 6
On London, love stories and the franchise's future

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Noble, spiritual and more gravelly than a motorway lay-by, Dominic Toretto is the Fast franchise's soft-spoken conscience. He's grown from the tearaway outlaw street racer of The Fast And The Furious to a more responsible outlaw street racer, a surrogate dad for the loveable bunch of petrolhead fugitives. When Empire caught up with him, he shared the core of the story.

Exclusive: Vin Diesel Talks Fast & Furious 6

Has there already been talk of Fast Seven?
You know, there's been talk of a Fast Ten! I've been talking with Justin [Lin, the director of all Fast & Furious movies since Tokyo Drift, now replaced by James Wan] and with the studio. The audience is expecting us to continue the saga somehow. I think it started at Four - there was kind of a perception change about the franchise and it was no longer just a sequel that was trying to be rehashed and re-envisioned like the first attempt. The studio was backing the idea that we could make a saga of this and almost approach it in a sort of Francis Ford Coppola kind of way.

Just how bad are the bad guys in Fast & Furious 6?
Well, it's interesting because in Fast Five, the showdown or the rivalry was about brawn versus brawn... now it's a much more of a cerebral rivalry between Dom and Shaw [Luke Evans] and that's fun. It's cool that as a saga, we cannot go back to the same thing; that we can try to continue to elevate and add new dimensions to our characters and the challenges they face.

What does coming to Europe do to the franchise?
We'd been promising for a while to take the saga to Europe and to finally realise that is pretty cool. London for me is especially cool; London's where I first worked as a bit actor 15 years ago in a Hatfield airbase centre for Saving Private Ryan.

We shot for a month in Wexford, Ireland but our base was here in London. I'd been acting since I was seven years old but I never made enough money in SAG to get health benefits, so when we started filming I was insured under the Writers Guild. All that real dangerous stuff on the beach.

To go from Rio and Tokyo to London, how do you approach keeping the glamour of the series?
The rivalry used to be about brawn versus brawn. Now it's much more cerebral.
I think there's something nice about London. I think London is sexy and I think it's important to change the palette of this film. I actually think you get warmth out of Rio - I think that was part of the fun of Five, that our audience was able to follow our guys to Brazil and you know, it's a ride to this cool tropical place and...

Destroy it!
And destroy it, sure! But it was a different tone then, everybody going for the big heist, the big score. And this is a colder subject matter. Without getting into spoilers, this movie is a love story and that's the heart of it and we're dealing with a character that's lost their memory and it doesn't hurt to have a cold landscape to support that and force our characters to work against the cold landscape to heat the chemistry up. We needed that - we needed to take the audience on that journey to a more stoic setting than the festive carnival of Rio.

How hard is it to shoot racing scenes in London?
We shot the nocturnal version of London, definitely not rush hour London. We just shot a scene in Batter, Batty, Batt? What's it called again?

Battersea power station?
It was such a great location. We did some really powerful scenes there. It's very gritty. It's at the heart of this metropolis and yet it feels like a little bit forgotten. I think that Battersea and some other key locations are giving it a really nice character and identity to this chapter and I think that's responsible filmmaking. I mean we have an audience that really, really, really trusts us and I think they appreciate us taking that story turn when the story calls for it.

What can you say about Letty's involvement in this one?
I knew that when I envisioned the trilogy, that was the whole point of going so dark in Four. Dark in Four and then getting some real light levity in Five and then returning to the heart in Six. That was the design of it. I mean if it were up to me we would have shot all three back-to-back, I just had to get the studio to that place.

But you got a Riddick in so...
Thank God I got that Riddick in! (laughs)

That must have been a bit murderous, the hours.
It was definitely murderous and... fucked. It's amazing how rewarding it is to actually execute a rated-R movie in this day and age, especially in my world where studios would rather get as much money as they possibly can. And the idea that we have an R-rated Riddick is just... incredible.

There are three real prominent promises that I made to myself and I guess the fans. The first one is that Letty would live and it was a very delicate dance for five years to make that solid. The second was that I would realise the next chapter for Riddick: rated R. It was so much harder than I ever anticipated because in this day and age the idea of taking a franchise like that and going artistic to some degree or just going raw when studios are so cautious is near impossible. My third promise, which hasn't happened yet, is to make a Hannibal film. I mean I started training elephants eight years ago. That's when I started riding African elephants, just in preparation for Hannibal.

Interview by Nick de Semlyen

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