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Vin Diesel Says Spielberg Told Him It’s a ‘Crime of Cinema’ If He Doesn’t Direct More

Vin Diesel directed his first feature in 1997 with Sundance entry "Strays," and now he says more feature filmmaking could be in his future.

Vin Diesel in "The Fate of the Furious"

Vin Diesel in “The Fate of the Furious”

Universal

Vin Diesel is one of the most recognizable and bankable actors in the world thanks to his involvement with the “Fast and Furious” franchise, but directing movies could be in the actor’s future. Diesel already has filmmaking credits to his name as the director of the 1997 Sundance entry “Strays,” which he also wrote, produced, and starred in as a drug dealer looking to find a better life. Prior to his 1997 feature directorial debut, Diesel helmed and starred in the 1995 short film “Multi-Facial,” which caught the eye of Steven Spielberg and led the director to cast Diesel in a supporting role in the 1998 war epic “Saving Private Ryan.” Diesel tells The National that Spielberg recently encouraged him to pick up the camera again.

“Speaking of Steven Spielberg, I saw him recently, and he had said to me, ‘When I wrote the role for you in “Saving Private Ryan,” I was obviously employing the actor, but I was also secretly championing the director in you, and you have not directed enough. That is a crime of cinema and you must get back in the directing chair,’” Diesel says. “I haven’t directed enough.”

When Diesel took “Strays” to the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, he befriended another aspiring filmmaker at the time named Jon Favreau. “It’s so funny, because we were both alumni at Sundance as filmmakers, and he goes off to do ‘Lion King,’ ‘Iron Man,’ and all these great movies,” Diesel says. “It’s fascinating. I kind of go ‘Steven is right.’”

One directorial passion project for Diesel over the years has been to helm a film about Hannibal Barca, the military general from Carthage who fought the Romans during the Second Punic War around 200 BC.

Diesel says of never directing the epic, “I haven’t done it yet. As much as I am grateful for the accomplishments, there are moments when I go ‘God, you promised the universe, very specifically, the Hannibal Barca trilogy, and you haven’t delivered it. You travelled all over the world.'”

Diesel’s most recent acting project “Bloodshot” opened in U.S. theaters March 13 but its box office has suffered as theaters close in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Universal was supposed to release Diesel’s “Fast 9” in theaters around the world in May but pushed back the release almost a year to April 2021.

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