By Phil Contrino
The pairing of American action star Vin Diesel and French actress Mélanie Thierry defines unity of opposites.
Diesel has a booming growl of a voice and a commanding presence, while Thierry is quiet femininity personified.
The two thesps strike up an on-screen chemistry in Babylon A.D., a futuristic saga which hits theatres on August 29 and they both made a stop in New York City this week to discuss the film with a group of reporters.
Diesel's character Toorop in Babylon A.D. isn't too far removed personality wise from Riddick, the anti-hero he has made flesh in Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick. In fact, if Riddick and Toorop met at a bar, they would probably have a drink.
For Diesel, one of the most important parts of moving from character to character, especially when there are similarities, is the cleansing process.
"The first thing that happens, that you probably don't hear enough about, is the cleansing of the former character," said Diesel, "There's usually a process, and I don't think a lot of actors talk about it, where you essentially purge yourself of the character you played before the movie. And then you want to think about what the character represents and you kind of create this mental chalkboard, if you will, and write down all the elements about this character and then take the time to allow all these elements to find some synchronicity."
While Babylon A.D. certainly boasts similarities to some of his past films in the sci-fi genre, Diesel saw it as an opportunity to accomplish a different take on the genre. Babylon is directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, a French-born director who made a name for himself in his native country before making his American directorial debut with 2003's Gothika. Kassovitz has also acted in Birthday Girl, Munich and several others.
"There was something interesting about doing a film that had the trappings of an action film, but was helmed by a French auteur. That felt unique," said Diesel, "I work within the confines of Hollywood and rarely get the opportunity to branch out and this was one of those opportunities to branch out and try something that was of the European mind."
Thierry certainly is very familiar with the "European mind," as Diesel puts it. The 27-year-old actress is much more famous in her native France that she is in America and for Babylon she jumped at the opportunity to star in a big-budget Hollywood production.
"It's exciting and it happens maybe just one time in your life, so I took it and it was great to have this experience," said Thierry.
Making the jump to the States only added to the amount of respect that Theirry has for American actors.
"I have a lot of admiration for American actors, because they are less lazy than French actors," said Thierry with a laugh, "For the French, sometimes it's just you play who you are and with Americans you have something more creative."
is in the bag, Thierry will be returning to France to act in films and plays. Meanwhile, Diesel is currently hard at work editing the
Fast and Furious
prequel he directed for Universal, which will serve to enhance the fourth installment of the series that recently finished shooting.