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Vin Diesel Talks xXx: Return of Xander Cage

January 16, 2017

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By: Lynn Barker

In 2002, action star Vin Diesel played Xander Cage, a thrill-seeking stuntman and extreme sportsman turned spy for the National Security Agency in order to clear his criminal record in the movie xXx. After the chaos and sorrow that was the 7th Fast and Furious film (which involved actor Paul Walker’s untimely death), Vin chose xXx: Return of Xander Cage to lighten things up as well as return to the stunts he enjoyed 15 years ago.

Vin on setVin on setCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

This time, Xander is more of a team player with a cool, international team at his side. Thought dead, he comes out of exile to stop an Asian warlord with a deadly weapon. Vin met with press recently to talk this latest actioner.

Q: Why is this a good time to bring the Xander character back?

  • Vin: I think there’s a need to revisit this hero architype. He is in some ways the reluctant hero, in some ways the anti-hero but his individuality, I guess, shines and you kind of walk away from this experience going “I could be who I am”. “If Xander could be him, I could be me”. I think there is something timely and cool about that. When we first did this movie people were calling it “The Bond killer” because it had beaten that year’s Bond (movie). I feel like we’ve seen a lot of different variations of spy movies and there has been a desire to return to this very different and unique secret agent.

Q: Talk about all the action in xXx.

  • Vin: There were several things important to me in returning to xXx. After all the weight that came with Fast and Furious (and Paul Walker’s death), I needed to play a very happy character, a character that could smile, a character who could laugh and tell jokes and do things purely for the thrill and that’s what this character allowed for so it was not only fun doing the stunts. They are great. People will talk about them but I had fun just practicing and preparing for those sequences because it meant I got to run the back lots and do jumps and stunts. While they were filming they would hear rrrrrrr (makes sounds like a car shifting gears) and that was me justifying it all by saying I’m getting ready for a sequence.

Xander roars into action!Xander roars into action!Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: How is Xander fifteen years later?

  • Vin: He’s definitely still consistent and he’s had more experiences. He did try working with the government and that didn’t work out for him. What we find in this one is his willingness to bring on a team and the fact that he values the team that he has makes it incredibly different than the first outing. He was a lone wolf and in this movie we see that, over the years, he’s learned to rely on people and I guess that makes for a better leader.

Q: Is the team a cool bunch?

  • Vin: Yeah, they are greater than the sum of their parts and that’s what is cool about this movie, seeing this group of misfits come together and work together. It’s the love of a lifestyle that brings them together. They wouldn’t necessarily worry about being heroic. They are just heroic because of the circumstances. What’s interesting is that gives them room to grow as characters over (a series of movies). You want to think about how they play in this (movie) but also in subsequent chapters.

Rebecca (Nina Dobrev) with Xander (Vin Diesel)Rebecca (Nina Dobrev) with Xander (Vin Diesel)Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: So they change and grow?

  • Vin: There is one team at the beginning of the movie and another team that’s formed throughout the movie. The first team is there because of how many great times they’ve had with Xander. The idea that he is such a fun person to be with pays off for the mission in a way because they’re just there to have a great time. As the team grows, we see another component that makes their mission more serious.

Q: What is the story really about?

  • Vin: This story is about a man being called back into action. The NSA is up against a group that they can’t handle, or can’t take down. Their old rigid and archaic ways of trying to deal with this new team is so much a threat that they have to go back and get this wild card named Xander to go get them. How the two teams work against each other and ultimately with one another is where the story lies.

Xander meets with bad guy Xiang and SerenaXander meets with bad guy Xiang and SerenaCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Xander and Serena (played by East Indian actress Deepika Padukone) have a  connection. Talk about working with her.  

  • Vin: That’s a wonderful relationship. First of all, I had wanted to work with her for a while. There was a point where I was really close to casting her in Fast and Furious then she had some other obligation and it didn’t work out. I think the relationship between Xander and Serena is very interesting. The global and international aspect of it just adds something special. She’s so beautiful but she’s regal and has conviction and really commits to the action that was demanded of her and it shows in the movie.

Xander (Vin) and hot Serena (Deepika Padukone)Xander (Vin) and hot Serena (Deepika Padukone)Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: This is a very international cast. Talk about that.

  • Vin: We put multi-cultural actors into the Fast and Furious franchise with great success and I wanted to push it even further on xXx to the point where I wanted to go not just to the multi-cultural actors that lived in California but go into entirely separate film markets, entirely separate regions and celebrate their heroes, their actors. We traveled around the whole world (to get them).

Q: What do you hope the audience takes away from seeing the movie?

  • Vin: I just want them to have fun because that’s what this film is gonna be about. That’s what you’re going to hear. People are going to say “Go see xXx because you are just gonna have fun”.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage PosterxXx: The Return of Xander Cage PosterCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Catch xXx: Return of Xander Cage in theaters now​!

 

Have Your Say

Are you a Vin Diesel fan or do you just like action films with great stunts? Leave a comment!