Vin Diesel looks pretty good from our vantage point.
He’s smiling, cheerful and warm, sitting in a high director’s chair at the Soho Beach House hotel, a day after an unflattering picture of him appeared all over the Internet.
So the last thing Diesel wants to talk about is his so-called dad-bod, hidden under his signature black muscle T. He is there to talk about his latest movie, sci-fi action flick The Last Witch Hunter, out Friday.
Though his body appears just as rock hard as always, a week or so later, Diesel took to Instagram showing off the six-pack we know and love. The caption: “Body-shaming is always wrong!”
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In The Last Witch Hunter, Diesel, who shares producing credits, plays an 800-year-old warrior named Kaulder, a quasi mortal battling supernatural creatures and rogue witches attempting to end the world. His only protector is a priest, Dolan 36, played by Michael Caine.
Working with the veteran English actor was a dream come true.
“My father always wanted me to work with two people — Judi Dench [his costar in The Chronicles of Riddick] and Sidney Lumet [who directed him in Find Me Guilty] — and I was able to do that early in my career,” Diesel says. “Total, total bucket list. I’d always loved Michael, and my grandmother was a huge fan. I finally got to meet him about 12 or 13 years ago, and we became friends and wanted to do something together.”
When Caine was approached for The Last Witch Hunter, the Oscar winner assumed it was a spinoff of the star’s hugely successful, um, vehicle, the Fast & Furious franchise, about the world of street racing that first revved up in 2001.
“He said to me, ‘I don’t even drive anymore. How could you ask me to be in that?’” Diesel says, laughing. “When he saw the script he said it was too good of a role to turn down.”
Having Caine aboard was the main reason Diesel continued with the project. After the death of dear friend and costar Paul Walker in November 2013, he decided to take time off to regroup after filming Furious 7.
“I made this movie at a dark time in my life,” says the California-born, New York-raised actor born Mark Sinclair. “It was sorrow and loss on such a global scale.”
Diesel found the filming of The Last Witch Hunter not only a creative outlet but a form of therapy, especially exploring the theme of immortality.
“When I was researching the character, realizing who Kaulder was on the inside, it struck me as fascinating that we all just assume that living forever would be great. When I played the role, the tragedy of eternal life became present. The idea really hit home that there’s something beautiful about the fact that we as humans have a finality to our existence.”
The timing on the calendar is right on to witness Diesel battle shape-shifting, mind-bending witches.
“Yes, you could call this is the perfect Halloween movie,” he says. “And it’s escapism. If you can be taken on a journey for two hours in a theater then we’ve done our job.”