Vin Diesel is the 6' tall, burly, shaven-headed actor of ambiguous ethnicity (he's half black and half Italian but doesn't look like either) best known for portraying the anti-hero Richard B. Riddick in Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick.
I am not a gun.
— The Iron Giant
Born in 1967 with the name Mark Sinclair Vincent, Vin Diesel changed his name when he was working as a bouncer, but acting seemed to be his true calling. He had a few minor movie and theater roles before landing a part in 1998's Saving Private Ryan, and then gained some actual name recognition as the voice of the title character in The Iron Giant in 1999.
Gotta kill a few people. Then you got to get sent to a slam, where they tell you you'll never see daylight again. You dig up a doctor, and you pay him 20 menthol Kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs.
— Pitch Black
The following year he starred in his real breakout role that cemented his fame as Richard B. Riddick in Pitch Black, a character he's portrayed in two sequels (one of which people actually even saw) and a bunch of video games. In between Riddicks he had a major role in The Fast and the Furious (2001) and starred as politically motivated eXtreme sports enthusiast Xander Cage in xXx (2002).
Dude, you have a bazooka. Stop thinking Prague Police and start thinking Playstation. Blow shit up!
He didn't return for either sequel to those, however, citing the fact that he had been offered three franchises at that point and he had to choose. Personally I think he realized the scripts were garbage but I'm not his publicist. Despite Diesel's fame and the popularity of his character, the special effects extravaganza The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) suffered from a weak storyline and poor reception by critics, which tanked it at the box office, probably killing the franchise he chose to endorse (Chronicles was supposed to be the first part of a planned trilogy).
You made three mistakes. First, you took the job. Second, you came light. A four man crew for me? Fucking insulting. But the worst mistake you made...empty gun rack.
— Chronicles of Riddick
I don't think anyone blamed Vin Diesel for that, though, because he's still a bankable star, returning in the kid-friendly 2005 movie The Pacifier, playing a Navy Seal babysitting a bunch of rambunctious children, and has a few other movies coming out in 2008. Although his good looks and muscular physique have typecast him as an action hero in the mold of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's had a few dramatic roles, too, highlighting the fact that he can actually act. Most important of these is his semi-autobiographical movie Multi-Facial (1999), which he wrote, produced, and directed.
Ask any racer, any real racer. It doesn't matter if you win by an inch or a mile; winning's winning.
— The Fast and the Furious