On October 23, Vin Diesel will become “The Last Witch Hunter,” a man cursed with immortality by the Queen Witch shortly before he put an end to her reign. On Saturday at New York Comic Con, however, he appeared as himself along co-stars Elijah Wood (“Lord of the Rings”) and Rose Leslie (“Game of Thrones”) and director Breck Eisner.
Moderator Josh Horowitz opened the show by introducing the panelists, starting with Eisner and ending with Diesel, who entered the stage to explosive applause and a standing ovation. Diesel made sure to catch a selfie with each cast member with his screaming fans in the background.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time to find something in the fantasy realm,” Diesel said. “When I first read this script, there was something so compelling about playing a character who was a badass before civilization and a badass in New York City. I jumped on with reckless abandon and I’m so happy I did. When I watched the film, I can’t tell you how happy I am to be a part of it.”
“This is really the dream team for me,” Eisner added. “I was really looking for actors who could embody the roles more than anything… Having Michael Caine to round off the top was fantastic.”
Horowitz then cued up some footage from the film, in which Diesel’s character enters the dream world with some help from Leslie.
“Chloe is a modern day witch living and working in New York City. She had to grow up pretty fierce… It is a memory bar, where witches can go and tap into their memories,” Leslie explained of her character.
“I’m part of the Order of the Axe and Cross. I play Dolan the 37th. Dolan is a priest in a long line of priests to help the Witch Hunter… Michael Caine is Dolan the 36th,” Wood explained. “My first day of the job all hell breaks loose. Plague flies!”
“There’s so many reasons why this film and the character was so attractive to me. The idea of playing an 800-year-old immortal is challenging. You know I don’t shy away from challenges,” Diesel said. “It’s no secret that I love Dungeons and Dragons. If you’ll me indulge me, I actually have a character that was a witch hunter.”
“If I could go back and tell that 17-year-old kid with 20-sided dice you are going to play this character some day, I wouldn’t have believed it. But dreams do come true!” he added.
“We choreographed the swordplay for about the month,” Diesel revealed, “And then you get to set and they swap in the real flaming sword and there’s a propane tank strapped to your back and you look to your left and there are eight fireman… There isn’t a lot of room for error. But it was so much fun to do! We think of musicians starting out playing air guitar. When you’re playing Dungeon and Dragons, I can’t tell you how many times in my mind I was holding a flaming sword. Holding a flaming sword was so cool — albeit dangerous, but so cool.”
“It’s so unique to come across original material like this,” he added. “Across the board, people say, ‘I haven’t seen anything like this before.’ And that’s a compliment! We’re just so lucky and so blessed.”
“I’m a good witch,” Leslie said when a fan asked if there were anything aside from dark witches in the film. “I only want to kill a few people!”
“If you ever come across the 30th anniversary coffee table book, they asked me to write the forward, and I talk about this character. Elijah [Wood] will know where this character’s from. I stole the name from a popular author: Melcore,” Diesel said of his Dungeons and Dragon character. “Straight from the ‘Silmarillion.'”
When asked about “Hannibal,” Diesel said, “It’s been a passion project for 13 years. Sometimes these things take a while to get made… The script for ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ was on The Black List. I’m going to make good on the ‘Hannibal’ trilogy.”
“Elijah is a master of acting with things that aren’t really there,” Eisner weighed in. “In the movie, there’s a monster called the Sentinel… we had a giant model called Sparky and at about two miles an hour a guy riding a quad would chase you… It was fun.”
“I don’t even remember a lot of green screen,” Diesel weighed in.
“It’s really important for me to have practical effects,” Eisner continued.
“I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but just last week David Twohy started describing a film called ‘Furia.’ It’s very exciting,” Diesel responded when asked if there was any traction with “Chronicles of Riddick.”
“It’s supposed to start in the beginning of March,” he said about “Fast and Furious 8” production. “Gary and I worked together 14 years ago. I tend to work with directors more than once a lot. I’m really excited about what’s going to happen in the next chapter. It’s pretty epic.”
“I haven’t played [Dungeons and Dragons] with anyone in Hollywood. I know, it’s terrible,” he shared. “The writer of ‘Fast and Furious’ is running a campaign and just recently invited me to come play.”
“I will tell you this: I remember being on set in wonderful Pittsburgh, where I was doing a scene with Michael Caine and we were halfway through filming… and all the studio execs were behind the monitor all day. Then they came to my trailer and said, ‘We want to start the sequel.’ I guess in the same way Marvel announced ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ before the movie… The relationship between Chloe and Kaulder becomes so significant it changes the relationship between Kaulder and the Ax and Cross,” Diesel revealed.
“I will say there’s a great line in the movie from Chloe — a very pivotal line — that there are much worse things in this movie, lurking in the shadows,” he said carefully.
“They are ready, they are prime to leap out of the shadows,” Leslie pitched in.
“You’ll have to wait for the sequel I guess,” Diesel laughed.
“The hope is that this is the beginning of a new mythology,” Eisner said. “Has anyone been on the DeviatArt? There are four concepts which Michael [Caine] voiced over. Check it out. Having Michael Caine’s voice makes everything better.”
“There’s kind of a graphic novel, but does anyone read ‘Black Hole?’ It’s kind of strange mutations from STDs… I’d love to see that be adapted,” Wood shared.
“I haven’t read any graphic novels, but [if I had a power] I’d like to fly,” Leslie said.
“She would be great in the Inhumans, wouldn’t she?” Diesel added.
“This is one of the best panels I’ve been on,” he concluded, and announced Fandango would sponsor tickets for all the audience members in attendance.
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