25 August 2013 6:41 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Just over a decade ago, Vin Diesel shot from near-obscurity to earning a $10 million payday in what seemed like record time, racing from an ensemble role in “Saving Private Ryan” to headlining “XXX” in nearly four years. But those who think of Diesel as an overnight action star don’t know the half of it.

“Vin is one of the most wildly misunderstood actor-producers out there,” says Universal co-chairman Donna Langley, whose connection with Diesel predates even 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious,” tracing back to “Boiler Room” at New Line.

While Diesel’s fans are familiar with his muscular physique and the trademark thunder-roll of his voice, what they don’t necessarily realize is just how much work Diesel puts into developing the movies they see as pure popcorn fun — or how hard he struggled to get to this point.

Before he became a star, Diesel broke through as an independent filmmaker, »


- Peter Debruge

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