October 4, 2003


"XXX 2" Not Diesel-Powered

Ice Cube is sliding in for Vin.

The rapper-actor will take over leading-man duties from Vin Diesel in the sequel to 2002's box-office bonanza XXX.

The original film featured Diesel as Xander Cage, an extreme sports fanatic turned reluctant secret agent. The name "XXX" refers to a three-strikes policy enacted by the National Security Agency giving hardened criminals the option of joining "the Man" as a covert operator or going to prison.

Diesel, perhaps feeling sequel-squeamish after having just completed Chronicles of Riddick, the follow-up flick to 2000's Pitch Black, opted out of part two of the action franchise. Revolution Studios tapped Ice Cube to replace Diesel as a new character enlisted by the NSA to become--what else?--a secret agent.

"When we made the decision to cast a new lead actor, Ice Cube was the perfect choice," Revolution partner Todd Garner said. "He is a fantastic actor who has the attitude and versatility required to bring this new character to life."

Before he begins working on XXX 2, Ice Cube will star in the Revolution picture, Are We There Yet? , which his production company, Cube Vision, will also produce. He recently finished the sequel to last year's Barbershop, and will next be seen in Torque, due out in theaters in January 2004.

Diesel will turn his acting attentions to Revolution's Hannibal, the cinematic tale of the Carthaginian warlord who crossed the Alps by elephant to battle Rome. He'll also serve as executive producer on XXX 2.

Also departing from the XXX creative team is director Rob Cohen, who is moving on to pilot Columbia Picture's Stealth and work on a Roman Polanski (news) biopic for Showtime. He too will pull executive producer weight on XXX 2.

Filling Cohen's shoes is director Lee Tamahori, who's no newcomer to spy cinema--his last film was MGM's 2002 Bond flick, Day Another Day.

Diesel and Cohen seem to be developing a pattern--this is the second time that both have opted out of an action sequel. The duo also walked away from the follow-up to 2001's box-office hit, The Fast and the Furious. Model-actor Tyrese stepped in for Diesel, while director John Singleton (news) took over for Cohen in this summer's 2 Fast 2 Furious.

The original XXX pulled in $277 million at box offices worldwide. XXX 2 is due to hit theaters in 2005.

Posted by Ithildin at October 4, 2003 7:08 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE

I'm not quite sure I can see someone other than Vin being XXX, but hey, maybe it doesn't matter if you're acting opposite enough explosions and gunfire.

Posted by: Jay Solo at October 4, 2003 8:01 PM

Well, I suppose I won't be going to see that sequel. Rap and its proponents make me ill.

I predict that the money and viewership will follow Vin. He has magnetism. I've been impressed with him ever since Giovanni Ribisi's little movie "Boiler Room."

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at October 5, 2003 4:12 AM

Rap usually does nothing for me either, but Ice Cube is actually a decent actor (Three Kings was a brilliant movie in pretty much every way), just as Francis notes Vin Diesel is. Not that it really matters in a over-the-top popcorn franchise like this one.

Posted by: Dave J at October 5, 2003 6:49 AM

I watched Three Kings because it was so critically acclaimed, and I didn't get it. To me it wasn't that great, and I couldn't understand why people thought it was.

Posted by: Jay Solo at October 5, 2003 12:46 PM

The only reason I had an interest in the first movie was because Vin was in it. I don't see wanting to go to the sequel now.

Posted by: Ith at October 6, 2003 9:06 AM

Vin is awesome.

I might go see 2 fast 2 furious, but I doubt it... without Vin, it's not the same.

Posted by: Dave at October 6, 2003 10:03 AM