A man with a clear focus on staying as fit and athletic as possible, combined with a shaved head and his distinctive gruff vocals, Vin Diesel seems like the perfect candidate to tick all the boxes on a list of requirements for a role as some kind of military or ex-military character in a movie. Appearances can be deceiving, though, was the actor actually in the military?
Vin Diesel has no record of military service. The closest he has come to being in the military was a character in Steven Spielberg’s 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan, where he assumed a minor role as a World War II-era soldier.
Contrary to the tough and brisk attitude that he brings to some of his characters, the kind of demeanor one might imagine him having if they had only seen him in his flagship The Fast and the Furious movie collection, Diesel is a life-long actor. As luck would have it, his natural propensity for an intimidating physicality has led him into a string of tough-guy characters.
Vacation in Western Europe
The sole time that we see Diesel donning a military uniform, on the silver screen or otherwise, was in Saving Private Ryan. In the movie, we see Diesel as one of the characters in the squad of doomed troops sent to save Private First Class James Ryan played by Matt Damon.
If you’ve seen the movie, then you already know that it doesn’t end well for the entirety of the movie’s cast, with all of them meeting some kind of violent and unfortunate end. Unfortunately for Diesel, he doesn’t fare any better than his castmates, with his character Private Caparzo becoming the victim of a hidden sniper.
This war-themed historical outing marked a fairly significant point in his career, as it was the first big-budget feature-length movie that he had been involved in, directed by one of the world’s most prominent directors.
Diesel described the initial phone call informing him that he was having a part custom tailored in the movie as one of the most memorable moments of his entire career. He was so ecstatic and overjoyed that Spielberg had watched his short film, Multi-Facial, that he was jumping up and down on his bed with joy.
In a genre about as far away as imaginable from the war epic that he had been given his big break in, Diesel’s next movie starring a character with a military background was superhero flick Bloodshot. Although not directly related or focused on any military aspects in the story, it revolves around the recently deceased but brought back to life super-soldier assassin Ray Garrison, played by Diesel.
Since Ray Garrison has a military background in the story, Diesel’s primary concern was with regards to doing the character as much justice as possible. This occupation with wanting to provide a faithful representation of the character was amplified by the fact that Ray Garrison suffers from a mental illness, specifically PTSD, an illness that is all too common amongst veterans.
Diesel cited his fascination with the character in general, from his physique to his psychological issues, and made managing to tap into the sentiment that makes the character the “military’s favorite superhero,” his top concern.
Even though some of the unforgettable characters that he has played in the past might make him seem like the type that would be perfectly suited for military life, Diesel is a life-long actor. With a father who was an acting instructor and a theater manager, it almost seems like it was destiny that Diesel ends up on this course in his life.
You might expect that with the pedigree of having a father so heavily involved in the arts, that Diesel may have pursued the traditional channels to get his first role, such as auditioning. Instead, he and his brother were actually caught attempting to vandalize the theater by a director, who gave Diesel two options: accept a role in the upcoming children’s play Dinosaur Door, or deal with the police.
Since then, Diesel has expanded his body of skills, and although he might have any military service, he’s multi-talented, having built his career to this point from a combination of acting, screenwriting, and directing.