Since their collaboration on “Babylon AD”, Mathieu Kassovitz and Vin Diesel did not really stay close. After the chaotic filming of his blockbuster, the filmmaker often attacked the actor, criticizing him in particular for his lack of investment.
Babylon AD : a promising adaptation
On paper, Babylon AD symbolizes a wildly ambitious film project. With this film released in 2008, Mathieu Kassovitz adapts the consequent novel Babylon Babies by Maurice G. Dantec, who evokes, among other things, transhumanism and the evolution of our planet in perdition in a cyperpunk atmosphere.
The feature film begins in the near future, in Eastern Europe. A mercenary, Toorop (Vin Diesel) is given a mission by Gorsky (Gérard Depardieu). The mobster instructs him to pick up a young woman named Aurora (Mélanie Thierry) and her guardian Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh) in a convent located in Kyrgyzstan, then to ensure her protection as far as New York.
The journey proves to be extremely dangerous, with Toorop witnessing particularly disturbing reactions from Aurora and her gifts of clairvoyance. Suspicious, he fears that the young woman could conceal a virus.
Lambert Wilson, Charlotte Rampling, Mark Strong and Jérôme Le Banner complete the cast of Babylon AD If the potential is enormous, Mathieu Kassovitz sees the film completely slipping away from him during filming.
“A terrible experience” for Mathieu Kassovitz
The fascinating making-of of the feature film entitled Fucking Kassovitz and produced by François Régis-Jeanne reports on dispossession experienced by the filmmaker behind Hatred and The Crimson Rivers. Over the course of the documentary, the delay accumulates, the budget explodes and the tensions with Vin Diesel intensify, contrary to the investment of the director, to the point that the latter ends up turn your back on your filmespecially for the scenes taking place in New York.
Mathieu Kassovitz believes that the allocated budget is not sufficient and the making-of also shows the difficulty in coordinating and carrying out such an undertaking. In an interview given to CMA in 2008, he assured that Fox, which co-produced Babylon AD, didn’t “let him work” and then speaks of a “terrible experience”.
Asked by Konbini in April 2020, more than ten years after the release, the director returns with as much humor as bitterness to what he considers an artistic failure:
Babylon, it was my responsibility, it was my film, my screenplay (co-written with Eric Besnard, editor’s note), it was something that was very close to my heart. But I teamed up with very, very bad partners, a very bad cinema producer in France who is not a cinema lover at all, (…) and an American studio which was at the worst moment of its existence. And a lead comedian who was a jerk and still is. (…) It’s missed from the middle because the film went off the rails in the middle.
“Vin Diesel is a bicycle pump”
The aversion of Mathieu Kassovitz for Vin Diesel would have been born because of a lack of investment that the first blames on the second. In Fucking Kassovitzthe filmmaker assures that the star of Fast & Furious would have refused to shoot an explosion scene from the first day of shooting, not wanting to take any risks because “he has a wife and children”.
The years pass but the director does not take off. In 2012, for example, he launches during an interview for QGQuoted by premiere :
Vin Diesel behaved like a pig.
The director’s most violent outburst against the actor is published in the columns of SoFilm, in 2015 :
I’m not homophobic, but I can tell you that Vin Diesel is a little fag (sic). If you have a problem with him, you can go and provoke him, you risk nothing, the guy is capable of nothing. Vin Diesel watches his films and finds himself an extremely good sniper, an extremely good parachutist, and he believes in it. He thinks he’s the one driving the cars in his movie stunts. He looks at himself on the screen (he mimics the gesture)… and he kisses his biceps.
Rebelote when Dwayne Johnson indirectly attacks the interpreter of Dominic Toretto by calling him a ” sissy ” on social networks after the filming of Fast & Furious 8 in 2016. A tackle to which Mathieu Kassovitz does not fail to react, writing on Twitter:
Vin Diesel is a bicycle pump. A balloon full of wind. I’m glad he’s finally been unmasked.