The 47-year-old "Guardians of the Galaxy" actor and father of two (daughter Hania Riley, 6, and son Vincent, 3) might be best known for R-rated action movies like "Riddick" and the "Fast & Furious" franchise, but when it comes to his kids, he's simply a doting dad.
Which might partially explain his latest turn as the voice of Groot, the giant tree character in Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy," also starring Chris Pratt and mom-to-be Zoe Saldana and opening August 1. While the character says only a handful of words — which becomes a running joke in the witty film — Diesel infuses them with a ton of heart.
At a recent press conference, Diesel revealed what his kids have to say about Groot, how taking part in the film helped him after the tragic death of friend and "Furious" co-star Paul Walker and what his 3-year-old son did to melt his heart.
What is the appeal of the Marvel universe, and particularly of "Guardians of the Galaxy"?
thing started with a kind of a social media wave that was adamant about
me doing something with Marvel. I had no idea what role it would be, and [Marvel] sent over a book of
conceptual art and I went into my living room with my kids and I opened up the
book and I asked the kids what character they wanted Daddy to play. And they all pointed at
What drew you to the character of Groot, who only says a few words in the film?
It was at a very important time when I did this movie; it was
in December and the first time I was coming around humans again, the
first time I was working again. There was something very therapeutic about in my personal life — I guess in my
professional life, too, dealing with death and then playing a character that
celebrates life in the way that Groot celebrates life.
What do your kids think of you as Groot?
When my kids see trees, they
refer to the trees as my brothers and sisters. And
so, they'll say, "Look Daddy, it's your brothers and sisters." And the idea to be associated with trees like
that is remarkable. It's so much more
gratifying than you would ever imagine.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" puts a lot of emphasis on the music and soundtrack. Which songs were your favorites?
coolest thing was my 3-year-old son watching the movie — when "Hooked on a Feeling" comes on, he was at
the edge of his seat, and I'm watching and it's the first time he's ever gone to
a movie, that we've ever gone to a movie together. Obviously, he can't see "Riddick"
or any of those other movies. So he
kinda scoots to the edge of his seat and squints his eyes like this and he starts
singing, "Hooked on a feeling, high off believing …" Watching him do that just melted my
"Guardians of the Galaxy" image courtesy of Marvel Studios