In the last decade or so, a few stars have risen to become the next generation of big-screen action heroes. Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson are certainly among them, but their Fate of the Furious co-star Vin Diesel has more than proved himself worthy of inclusion as well. With an unmistakable voice, an imposing physical presence and a devoted fanbase, Diesel has collected several blockbuster franchises since bursting onto the scene in the late 1990s and has proved himself to be capable in dramatic films like Saving Private Ryan and Find Me Guilty. However, today we’re looking at some of his more front-and-center roles, whether as a lead or standout ensemble player. For the record, we’re limiting this list to one entry per franchise.
1. The Iron Giant (1999)
The directorial debut of Brad Bird (The Incredibles), this late-era hand-drawn animated gem has developed a monstrous cult following since its disappointing theatrical run. The Iron Giant follows young Hogarth (Eli Marienthal) and his discovery of the titular robot (Diesel), as the pair develop a friendship and attempt to hide from government officials convinced that Hogarth’s new pal is a deadly weapon. Its themes of self-discovery and choosing one’s own destiny are beautifully explored, and a good deal of the eponymous character’s heart derives from Diesel’s appropriately gruff but soulful performance.