The Last Furyan: RIDDICK is Green-lit
In 1999, when filmmaker David Twohy cast a
relatively unknown actor named Vin Diesel to play
escaped convict Richard B. Riddick in 2000's intimately
terrifying sci-fi film Pitch Black, neither the director
nor the performer had any idea that the small movie
would garner the astonishing following it has grown to
enjoy since its release.
In response to that success, Diesel and Twohy
again joined forces in 2004. This time, Diesel not only
stepped back into the role of the galaxy's most-wanted
outlaw, but also took the reins as one of the film's
producers. In the visually stunning second installment,
The Chronicles of Riddick, the team expanded our
antihero's universe by bringing us to new worlds and
introducing sentient beings, including the fanatical
Necromongers -- a religious sect that simply converts
or kills all who oppose them.
Diesel admits that the stoic, misunderstood felon
has long been one of his favorite characters: "I fell in
love with the role on paper because Riddick is such a
well-executed character and a true antihero." The actor
believes that much of the popularity is due to the con-
nection that fans have with Riddick. "People identify
with his plight, and that's why they gravitate toward him.
They identify with being prejudged, ruled out, given up
on and underestimated; those are feelings we all have at
some point. The fact that Riddick is able to overcome
that through action is something people welcome."
Over the past decade, the franchise has evolved to
include two popular video games, as well as an anime
DVD, but it's long been the desire of the two men who
started the first film together to see Riddick return to the
big screen. For Twohy and Diesel, whether or not they'd
create a third chapter was never a question. Simply
put, the champions of the first two movies demanded it. Explains Twohy: "We never stopped hearing the
drumbeat from the fans. Of all the movies that I've
done, they ask me the most about Riddick."
With more than 45 million followers on Facebook,
Diesel was likewise questioned by those who wanted
to discover additional creatures and meet new players
of the universe that the fugitive inhabits. Shares
Diesel: "People wrote, 'When are we going to get
more Riddick? You have to make this movie.' It was
comments like this that made us feel like we had to
make it at all costs."
Fortunately, throughout the years, Twohy and
Diesel had met regularly to ponder what should
and could come next. It was during these marathon
conversations that they expanded Riddick's universe
and the mythologies and characters that reside within.
Because the two are self-described "fan boys," they
are steeped in the intimate details of the series. As a
matter of fact, they have backstories for every character
that's been introduced and long envisioned what this
franchise would look like in future iterations.
As few know the world of the last Furyan better
than Twohy and Diesel, it proved fortuitous when the
chance arose to take creative control of the franchise.
Their decision to craft this third chapter as a taut,
intense sci-fi thriller that hearkens back to Pitch Black
while integrating the deep mythology of The Chronicles
of Riddick was met by excitement from executives at
Universal Pictures. In fact, the studio agreed to allow
Diesel's One Race Films the rights to
the franchise while Universal agreed to
distribute the film domestically.
The company, which Diesel formed
in 1995 to support his directorial debut,
Multi-Facial, now has numerous
divisions and produces television, film
and video games. One Race -- run by
Riddick executive producer Samantha
Vincent -- had been one of the groups
behind Diesel's box-office smashes
Fast & Furious, Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. With
One Race at the helm of production and Universal
handling distribution, the long-awaited new chapter
was ready to go full-steam ahead. Diesel sums what
drove the team: "I owed it to the fans who are so loyal
and have watched and rewatched the films over and
Alongside producer Ted Field, Diesel and Twohy
proposed the idea of bringing the saga back to the 'R'-
rated roots of the first film, supported by top-notch
craftspersons who could bring their precise, epic vision
to life. Diesel explains his driving passion: "As an artist,
there is a need to have creativity without censorship.
The closer you get to that 'R' rating, the freer you are
to tell the story without holding punches. With so much
of my business being in the 'PG' arena, it's nice to go
In The Chronicles of Riddick, it was revealed to our
hero that he was of Furyan blood and that a Necromonger,
driven by prophecy, invaded Furya and orchestrated
genocide on its people when Riddick was born. One of
the themes that Twohy and Diesel wanted to explore in
the next chapter was Riddick's quest to find out who he
really is. "There's another huge reason why I gravitate
toward this character," says Diesel. "We all have a quest
for identity to some degree. Riddick is no exception and
wants to know more about where he's from."
When developing the film, Twohy wrote a stunning
and uncompromising treatment that dovetailed into a terrifying shooting script. He remembers: "We settled
on a story that was a one-world setting where we would
find Riddick left for dead, and he has to battle a hostile
environment to get off the planet." Twohy deepened this
theme of a vision quest by making Riddick's internal
search a literal, external one. Marooned on a lost world,
he is forced to search himself for who he truly is.
While Twohy crafted the script for Riddick, Diesel
served as the myth-builder. "I trust his penmanship,"
commends Diesel. "David is an incredible writer, and
he trusts my mythology perspective. We talk about this
story in relation to many stories, how they weave in and
out and how they relate to one another. I know that as a
fan of fantasy and of mythology, the more I can explore
something, the safer I feel in that franchise."
For Diesel, one of the highlights of the shooting
screenplay was the epic first act, which bridges the
takeover of the Necromongers to the events of today.
Left for dead on an abandoned planet, Riddick struggles
to stay alive and must find the man he was before
becoming Lord Marshal. Riddick, through internal
monologue, looks back upon how he lost his identity,
and, ultimately, how he rebuilds himself. "We were
excited about this Jeremiah Johnson-like story of the
opening act," states the performer. "You seldom see this
in today's movies, where you're watching what's going
on with this character both internally and externally,
without any dialogue."
No matter how deeply he was entrenched, Twohy
confesses that no one knows
Riddick better than Diesel: "Vin
owns it to such a degree that
he double-checks me, making
sure that the character is doing
Riddick-ian things." He adds that
they were pleased with where the
years of laborious myth-building
netted out. "I wrote the script
for the movie that I wanted to
see, and I went out and shot that
movie. Hopefully the result is something that is dark and
visceral and eye-grabbing."
The history of collaboration between the longtime
friends is one of the main reasons that an enormous
project like Riddick resulted in such a smooth production.
"We were able to come home on time and on budget
because David and I have such shorthand," reflects
Diesel. "We've proven to each other how much we care
about the property, the character and the franchise. We
hit the ground running, knowing that we were up against
an enormous task of making such an epic movie."
Field remains in admiration of the partnership he's
witnessed since the trio began work on Pitch Black
more than a decade ago: "Vin and David play off one
another so smoothly. It's rare to find a director and actor
who can collaborate on every aspect of the filmmaking
process and live to do it two more times. I'm proud to
be a part of this third chapter, and I commend both of
them for guiding it from page to screen."
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