I’m thinking of you again tonight Vin Diesel, as I consider my dwindling options in a French seaside town, and the seagulls won’t let me sleep. The seagulls and everything else.
Vin, the Fast and Furious franchise has made you rich, with the eight films in the series having earned a combined worldwide gross of over $5 billion, but you didn’t appear in this summer’s spin-off Hobbs and Shaw, which was headlined by your F&F co-stars Jason Statham and Dwayne The Rock Johnson.
Vin is true about the feud between you and The Rock? Did you really refuse to play any scenes together during the filming of Fast and Furious 8: The Fate of the Furious?
Vin are you happy?
Vin it’s either worry about you or focus on everything else that’s going on in my life right now, and I know what I’d rather do. In a couple of weeks the seagulls will all leave their nests and it’ll be quiet again, but until then it only takes one to start the whole lot of them off, as if the warm damp air wasn’t already enough to keep everyone up. As if I needed the excuse.
Vin we have a lot to talk about.
Vin how’s the weather over there?
Vin you look tired lately. Is it the weight and responsibility of all that money and fractured masculinity? Do you wake in the morning and gaze across the Hollywood Valley and feel like you’ve won?
Vin what will it take?
Vin I’m two years younger than you and I’ve lost my hair too – just like Jason Statham and The Rock. They say it’s something to do with too much testosterone. I mean, look at Bruce Willis.
Vin my prostate is on the blink and I don’t think even a perfectly planned and executed billion dollar cars-and-guns heist could fix it. They keep doing unpleasant things to me in the hospital, and I don’t want to tell you about the cystoscopy, and now I’m on drugs the side effects of which are potentially hilarious.
Vin we’re all men here, right?
Vin you were great in Saving Private Ryan and as Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Volumes One and Two and I cried both times you died.
Vin I have so many questions. Like, what have they done with Gerard Butler? Everyone had such high hopes for him. And would you do a cameo in a fourth Expendables film if they made one? And how do you feel about the relative opening weekend box office failure of Hobbs and Shaw? (I still think It will clean up, globally; the trailer looks great).
Vin are you sleeping? What do you dream about? Why didn’t they at least give you an executive producer credit?
Vin at high tide they have to open the iron bridge – the one that wasn’t designed by Gustav Eiffel – to let the boats in and out, and the traffic backs up across town but my sons still insist on watching every time, and at low tide the sand shines like celluloid.
Vin what have we got to look forward to? And how long can we all keep this up? Even Sylvester Stallone has hinted at retiring Rocky, and says his next outing as Rambo will be his last. Arnold Schwarzenegger had heart surgery in 1997. Clint Eastwood is still going, I suppose, somehow.
Vin, would I look good driving a Ford Mustang? Should I go to the gym? How much is enough?
Vin, what if it’s cancer?
Vin it’s three in the morning and I’m a long way from home and that’s not a metaphor.
Vin they don’t even consider it worth noting if your bladder only wakes you up two or three times a night.
Vin there are surgical options but none of them are much fun.
Vin can you hear the seagulls calling? What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven a car? I had to go on a speed awareness course when I got caught doing 85mph on the A14 and now I’m a lot more careful.
Vin, my cholesterol is too high and I need glasses. I can still balance on my hands. It won’t be light for hours and then I have to take my sons to the beach again
Vin are there still wide open roads to be driven down and horizons we have yet to reach?
Vin remember when your character won that race in Cuba at the beginning of The Fate of the Furious and you crossed the finish line going backwards with your car on fire? That’s how I feel about the future. That’s how I feel about getting old.
Vin who would really win in a fight between Statham and The Rock? And what’s Charlize Theron like? And how do you feel about the representation of women and male/female relationships in general in the Fast and Furious films?
Vin I wasn’t convinced by the whole ‘Letty is dead, now she isn’t, now she has amnesia’ storyline, but Michelle Rodriguez is great, isn’t she?
Vin why are all the men in the franchise so terrified of appearing vulnerable? What happened to them when they were young?
Vin mawkish sentimentality is no substitute for genuine emotional openness, and I should know.
Vin what kind of men will my sons grow up to be, and what world will be left for them, and will they get to drive fast cars? I took them swimming in the sea today and showed them how to change a flat tyre but I don’t know how much they’ll remember.
Vin do you remember the first time you held your children? When will you feel like your work is done? There are at least another two films scheduled in the Fast and Furious franchise, taking us through to the end of 2021. And what then?
Vin there are lights tonight out on the ocean and I don’t know what they mean.
Vin all the men in the waiting room were twenty years older than me, and then they take you to a smaller room where you sit, in twos and threes, wearing surgical gowns and pressure socks and blue hairnets, with all your possessions in a plastic bag, trying to avoid each others’ eyes, until they come to prep you for theatre, and lay you down and stick a tube in the back of your hand, and then there’s the sensation like a car accelerating, and then you’re gone.
Vin how long have any of us got? Will you still be wearing sleeveless shirts at sixty? Will you go into politics, do you think?
Vin it was awful about Paul Walker.
Vin what terrifies you? What have you got to answer for? Those two hours under the general anaesthetic were the best sleep I’ve had in years.
Vin I’m looking forward to the brave new world with one hand on the wheel, and my sons are in the back of the car complaining about the length of the journey.
“And where are we going, anyway?” they ask, again and again.
“To the far and distant hills!” I shout, laughing like maniac.
And then I put my foot down Vin.
– End –
[This piece is a sort of sequel to Vin Diesel’s Sleeves]