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The long-awaited third live-action installment of the Riddick series, which began with 2000’s Pitch Black, brought its stars to Comic-Con International in San Diego to roaring approval from the crowd that packed Hall H.
Star/producer Vin Diesel, actress Katee Sackhoff and writer/director David Twohy ascended the stage, with Diesel and Twohy reminiscing about their first visit to the convention 13 years ago to introduce Pitch Black.
Judging by a short reel highlighting her skills, it’s clear that Battlestar Galactica veteran Sackhoff is in even more ruthless form as Riddick’s cohort Dahl. A longer clip showed the pair held captive by a group of men in an underground bunker. Before he can be properly tortured, they fall under attack by giant monsters, to which Riddick states, “Time’s up.” As the insect-like creatures reach their arms into the bunker and tear apart the men, Riddick kicks a knife through the main protagonist’s face. By the end of the sequence, Dahl and the others left alive agree that Riddick belongs on their team.
The clip confirmed that the film picks up after where 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick left off, and that Riddick is even darker, bloodier and more action-packed than its predecessors. It’s perhaps due to the freedom that came with producing the feature without the constraints of a studio. “Once we realized … we were going to be an independent picture, it was liberating,” Twohy said. “Creative meetings were in Vin’s kitchen: I would sit on the counter, Vin would roam around trying not to smoke his American Spirits.”
Of the film’s undertones, Twohy revealed, “We decided a survival story was the way to go.” Diesel continued, “I think at the core for the Riddick character, he’s driven by some quest for identity. … The film maintains the style and tempo of Pitch Black while still servicing the mythology. Eventually, you will end up in the Underverse.”
And Sackhoff’s quest for co-starring in the film? “I have been a fan of Vin and Pitch Black,” she revealed. “I jumped on the bandwagon from the very beginning.” Regarding her character, she said she was impressed that, “I don’t see a weakness in her — that’s something I haven’t played before. I usually play a vulnerability with a character, and with Dahl there was no vulnerability. … And I got to shoot very big guns. I think my gun was the biggest one!”
Diesel also divulged his long-standing penchant for role-playing games, and how they’ve influenced him as an actor. “Dungeons & Dragons, for me, was a training ground for imagination in so many ways,” he said. “I have friends in Hollywood that tease me!” He’s obviously getting the last laugh, however, because he feels the role-playing took on a life of its own and lent itself to his ability to act — especially the ability to play Riddick. “I think the fantasy role-playing world that I was so immersed in ended up playing itself out in the way that I approach the mythology,” he said.
Reprising the role of Riddick after all these years isn’t without its downfalls. “What’s inside of Riddick is so scary,” Diesel explained, “that — now that I have kids — when I watch the Riddick character, there’s a part of me that feels guilty for having such a darkness in that character, and I look at what he’s doing and I’m like, ‘That wasn’t cool — you shouldn’t have killed that guy!'”
An audience member asked Diesel for one thing we don’t yet know about Riddick from the films, and he teased, “That’s tricky, because that’s the next movie!”
Riddick opens Sept. 6.