Mark Sinclair (born July 18, 1967), known professionally as Vin Diesel, is an American actor and filmmaker. One of the world's highest-grossing actors, he is best known for playing Dominic Toretto in the Fast & Furious franchise.
Diesel began his career in 1990 but struggled to gain roles until he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the short film Multi-Facial (1995). This attracted the attention of Steven Spielberg, who was developing Saving Private Ryan (1998), and re-wrote elements of the film to allow Diesel to appear in a supporting role. Diesel subsequently voiced the titular character in The Iron Giant (1999) while gaining a reputation as an action star after headlining the Fast & Furious, XXX, and The Chronicles of Riddick film franchises.
Diesel voices Groot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). He also voiced the character in Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018). Diesel has also earned commercial success in other genres, such as in the comedy The Pacifier (2005), while his performance in Find Me Guilty (2006) was praised. Diesel portrayed the comic book superhero Bloodshot in its 2020 film adaptation, and is slated to appear in the Avatar sequels.
He founded the production company One Race Films, where he has also served as a producer or executive producer for his star vehicles. Diesel also founded the record label Racetrack Records and video game developer Tigon Studios, providing his voice and motion capture for all of Tigon's releases.
Diesel was born Mark Sinclair on July 18, 1967, in Alameda County, California, with his fraternal twin brother, Paul. His mother, Delora Sherleen Vincent (née Sinclair), is an astrologer. Diesel has stated that he is "of ambiguous ethnicity". His mother has English, German, and Scottish roots. He has never met his biological father, and has stated that "all I know from my mother is that I have connections to many different cultures". Diesel has self-identified as "definitely a person of color", and has stated that his parents' relationship would have been illegal in parts of the United States due to anti-miscegenation laws. He was raised in New York City by his white American mother and African-American stepfather, Irving H. Vincent, an acting instructor and theater manager.
Diesel made his stage debut at age seven when he appeared in the children's play Dinosaur Door, written by Barbara Garson. The play was produced at Theater for the New City in New York's Greenwich Village. His involvement in the play came about when he, his brother and some friends had broken into the Theater for the New City space on Jane Street with the intent to vandalize it. They were confronted by the theater's artistic director, Crystal Field, who offered them roles in the upcoming show instead of calling the police. Diesel remained involved with the theater throughout adolescence, going on to attend NYC's Hunter College, where studies in creative writing led him to begin screenwriting. He has identified himself as a "multi-faceted" actor.
Diesel in 2005
Diesel's first film role was a brief uncredited appearance in the drama film Awakenings (1990). In 1994, he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the short drama film Multi-Facial, a semi-autobiographical film which follows a struggling multiracial actor stuck in the audition process. The film was selected for screening at the 1995 Cannes Festival.
In 1997, Diesel made his first feature-length film, Strays, an urban drama in which he played a gang leader whose love for a woman inspires him to try to change his ways. Written, directed, and produced by Diesel, the film was selected for competition at the 1997 Sundance Festival, leading to an MTV deal to turn it into a series. Director Steven Spielberg took notice of Diesel after seeing him in Multi-Facial and cast him in a small role as a soldier in his 1998 Oscar-winning war film Saving Private Ryan. In 1999, he provided the voice of the title character in the animated film The Iron Giant.
In 2000, Diesel had a supporting role in the drama thriller Boiler Room, where he appeared alongside Giovanni Ribisi and Ben Affleck. He got his breakthrough leading role as the anti-hero Riddick in the science-fiction film Pitch Black later that year. Diesel attained action hero stardom with two box office hits: the street racing action film The Fast and the Furious (2001), and the action thriller XXX (2002). He turned down the chance to reprise his roles in the sequels 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and XXX: State of the Union (2005). Instead he chose to reprise his role as Riddick in The Chronicles of Riddick, which was a box office failure considering the large budget. He also voiced the character in two spin-off video games and the anime film The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury. In a change from his previous action hero roles, in 2005, he played a lighthearted role in the comedy film The Pacifier, which was a box office success.
Diesel has said he prefers to maintain his privacy regarding his personal life, stating: "I'm not gonna put it out there on a magazine cover like some other actors. I come from the Harrison Ford, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino code of silence."
Sometime around 2001, Diesel dated his Fast & Furious co-star Michelle Rodriguez. Since 2007, he has been in a relationship with Mexican model Paloma Jimenez; the couple have three children: daughter Hania Riley (born April 2008), son Vincent Sinclair (born 2010), and daughter Pauline (born March 2015). The last is named in honor of his co-star and friend Paul Walker, who died in November 2013. He is also the godfather of Walker's daughter, Meadow.
Diesel is noted for his distinctive deep voice; he said his voice broke around age 15, giving him a mature-sounding voice on the telephone. He has played Dungeons & Dragons for over 37 years as of 2021, and wrote the foreword for the commemorative book 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons. Canadian video game designer and developer Merritt k created the 2015 ASMR game Vin Diesel DMing a Game of D&D Just For You based on his D&D fandom. He has expressed his love for the Dominican Republic and how he relates to its multicultural facets. He is acquainted with its former president, Leonel Fernández, and appeared in one of Fernández's earlier campaign ads. Los Bandoleros, a short film directed by Diesel, was filmed in the Dominican Republic.