Is Vin Diesel signing up to play a tree? That seems to be the case. The muscular, smooth-domed star of Riddick and Fast & Furious 6 has been hinting at a pair-up with Marvel Studios for weeks, and recent news reports (and a hint on his Facebook page) all but confirm that he’s going to play Groot, the sentient alien tree-creature that will appear in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a film based on the comic book of the same name that’s scheduled for a 2014 release.
Diesel recently posted a picture of the peculiar comic-book character on his Facebook page, and in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this week, he said he’s in talks with Marvel to do motion capture and voice work for “the strangest Marvel character – or the strangest Marvel character that’s ever hit film.”
In case you’re not familiar, Groot was created by Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers and Stan Lee in 1960, and appears in a number of Marvel comic book series throughout the decades, including the 2008 version of Guardians of the Galaxy. Hailing from Planet X, Groot possesses super-strength and science smarts, can talk to and control trees, and can survive even the most dire, fatal circumstances by breaking off a piece of himself to regenerate later.
With news of Diesel’s role spreading across the Internet, people don’t seem to be reacting with the same vitriol as they did when Ben Affleck was anointed the new Batman. That makes sense, because Groot isn’t exactly Batman-famous; a lot of movie watchers have probably never even heard of him, and probably don’t have much of an opinion one way or the other on who should play him.
Still, the thought of Vin Diesel playing a humanoid alien tree creature makes a lot of sense. Though his appearance more closely resembles an American Gladiator, the Hollywood veteran certainly has the muscular build and booming voice you’d expect from a tree. Also, he’s been in more than enough action flicks to earn the right to play an ultra-strong creature that’s able to amass and lead giant armies. Indeed, this seems to be the sort of role Diesel was born to play.
The question is whether Diesel will have the acting chops to convey a nuanced range of emotions while bellowing Groot’s trademark statement: “I am Groot!” Groot’s rigid larynx usually prevents him from saying anything but those three words, and yet he may be expressing a lot more. In one installment of Guardians of the Galaxy, the character Maximus the Mad appears to hold a detailed discussion of relativistic feedback and quantum inhibitors with the tree-man. Asked how he could extrapolate so much from such few words, Maximus counsels that one must listen to the “sigh of breeze” that comes beneath Groot’s declarations.
Then again, Maximus is also kinda crazy, and it could be that Groot is saying nothing but “I am Groot” after all. In which case, Diesel should have a fairly easy go of it.