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Vin Diesel on Being Recruited by Steven Spielberg for 'Saving Private Ryan'

Will Lerner
·Producer, Yahoo Entertainment
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In xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Vin Diesel’s titular character is recruited back into action by Jane Marke, a steely government agent played by Toni Collette. The recruitment is actually kind of heavy-handed. To procure Mr. Cage’s services, Marke locates him and then surrounds him with several agents. That led us to wonder about what kind of recruitment efforts have been employed on Diesel. We assumed a memorable recruitment might have come in recent years, given he’s reclaimed his Hollywood action star status over the past few years.

Vin Diesel in Saving Private Ryan. (Photo: Paramount)
Vin Diesel in Saving Private Ryan. (Photo: Paramount)

Instead, Diesel told Yahoo Movies the most memorable recruitment came at the beginning of his career. “Probably, the best was when I got the phone call that Steven Spielberg had written a role for me,” Diesel said. “That was kind of a bizarre kind of recruitment. I was about six months into this new thought that I wasn’t going to audition anymore. And I refused to have to go wait on cattle calls, and I told my agents, ‘I’m not doing it anymore.’”

Vin Diesel (center-right) with the cast of Saving Private Ryan. (Photo: Paramount)
Vin Diesel (center, right) with the cast of Saving Private Ryan. (Photo: Paramount)

“And I get this call after Sundance, after Strays, after my film was at Sundance in ’97, and it’s my agent, and my agent says, ‘You know, Steven Spielberg just saw Multi-Facial,’” Diesel continued. “I went, ‘What? He saw my short film.’ And I’m jumping, I was living in North Hollywood, and I remember jumping up on my bed, and I had to be careful because I almost hit myself and knocked myself out.”

Fortunately, Diesel didn’t careen too wildly into the ceiling. “And [my agent] said, ‘No, wait a minute, there’s more. He’s writing a role for you.’ I said, ‘Well, do I have to audition?’ ‘No, he’s writing a role for you because he saw your short film, Multi-Facial.’ That was the most bizarre form of recruitment I’ve ever experienced.”

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