He’s done more than just look like a monster and drive cars really, really rapidly and angrily. While he’s taken some missteps in his career (The Last Witch Hunter, Babylon A.D.), he’s actually one of the most charismatic leading men that Hollywood has today. It’s hard to believe that in slightly over 20 years, the hospitality orderly you might have noticed in Awakenings has amassed a pretty decent set of great action movies. Here’s Vin Diesel’s 10 Most Iconic Roles, Ranked.
From a take on Point Break to becoming full-fledged superhero type movies about agents who can drive any car anyway they please, The Fast & Furious movies are the jolt of adrenaline plenty of fans crave. Whether Dominic and his family are running smuggling jobs or driving in ice roads with the world at stake, there are all kinds of inherent absurdities happening in these movies.
But that’s part of the fun! What on Earth will these crazy people think of next? Even though the Rock sort of saved the franchise in Fast Five, it has always been Diesel’s animal magnetism that helped keep the movies grounded (if only for a little).
Seldom, if ever, has three simple words meant so much. As the voice of Groot, Diesel uses a gravely base tone to bring life to the most popular sentient tree of the MCU. Groot was Diesel’s first role after the death of Fast co-star and friend, Paul Walker.
Diesel said in interviews that the role really helped him through the grieving process. Not only did Vin Diesel voice the cosmic Flora Colossus, but he did some of the mocap work for the character and voiced Groot for every language the MCU movies are in – “Estoy Groot,” “Watashi wa grootdesu,” and dozens of other languages; Diesel is Groot.
He might not look like the “typical” nerd, but Vin Diesel is a humongous geek. The guy plays Dungeons & Dragons, you can’t much nerdy than that. Or maybe you can when you try to create your own wild sci-fi franchise. After a long gap since the last successful sci-fi/horror picture, Pitch Black came as a breath of fresh air.
What looked like a direct-to-video premise at first was made better by Diesel playing Richard Riddick, a sadistic con being transported to a nasty prison. The movie helped Diesel become a household name and, every so often, he has tried to resurrect the character, even creating a few video games.
After becoming an action brimming over the top with charisma, Diesel tried to mine that charisma in varied roles that didn’t involve driving fast or looking menacing. One of the films that Diesel tried to branch out with was the true-life Mafia story, Find Me Guilty.
Diesel teamed up with acclaimed director Sidney Lumet to tell the story of Jackie DiNorscio, an incarcerated mobster who used his charm and whatever knowledge he had to defend himself in the Lucchese RICO trial.
DiNorscio famously helped the family all be found not guilty and then was carted back off to the pokey to finish his sentence. Diesel was praised for his dramatic turn.
Before his voice was associated with a tree, Diesel voiced the titular role in The Iron Giant.
Based on the novel of the same name, the movie tells the always relatable story about a boy who befriends an unknown creature and protects it from the government. For a giant robot, Diesel injected the role with a huge childlike innocence.
It seems like every major action star has had his version of a cop taking the law into his own hands in the name of vengeance. F. Gary Gray (who eventually directed Fate Of The Furious) directed Diesel in his take on this trope, a 2003 film called A Man Apart.
He plays Sean Vetter, a reformed criminal turned DEA agent who had his family tragically murdered by Diablo. Vetter survives the assault and even teams up with the guy he just put away to track down the guy to murder his wife and son.
As Private Adrian Caparzo, Diesel has a heart of gold, trying to save a little girl who reminds him of his niece back home. He tragically or sniped for his efforts.
After director Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel gifted the world Fast & The Furious in 2001, they teamed up again one year later for the extreme sports/spy thriller XXX.
Xander Cage (Diesel) was supposed to be a James Bond for a new generation sort of character. To an extent, the original film succeeded. He’s exactly what the government needs, an anti-establishment thug with no ties to any agency who can infiltrate the Anarchy 99 group and help regain a bioweapon.
Similar to action stars having to star in a movie where they take the law into their own hands, they also must have a “fish out of water” story in their filmography, where they’re charged with protecting a bunch of kids. Arnold in Kindergarten Cop, The Rock in The Tooth Fairy, and to a lesser extent, Stallone in Demolition Man. Vin Diesel’s film is The Pacifier.
Diesel got to show off his comedic chops playing Shane Wolfe, a US Navy Seal recovering after an operation. He’s assigned duty protecting the widow of a government worker and her family.
In the underrated Knockaround Guys, Diesel, as Taylor Reese, is part of a crew of mobsters’ kids who have their own ideas in mind about going to work in the family business.
It’s one of the first movies that the actor has to hold his own while sharing the screen with legends like John Malkovich and Dennis Hopper; which he’s able to do pretty effortlessly.