Diesel Revs Up for XXX, Pitch Black Sequel

Meet Vin Diesel, bona fide action star. After the success of The Fast and the Furious, the imposing, deep-voiced actor is revving into two action dramas — XXX and the sequel to Pitch Black — and he's getting paid a lot more for his services

First up is the already announced XXX, for which Diesel is pulling down $10 million to play an "extreme James Bond" type who's hell on wheels (think: motorcycle stunts).

Joining the film is our favorite cinematic badass, Samuel L. Jackson, who'll play a government agent who recruits and trains Diesel's character for an undercover operation to infiltrate a Russian crime ring. The Shaft star was set to film the thriller Tick Tock with Jennifer Lopez next, but Columbia Pictures has shelved the film in light of the real-life terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

XXX begins shooting in late November for a July 2002 release. The Fast and The Furious' Rob Cohen will direct for Revolution Studios. Diesel will be paid more than $11 million to star as the title character in The Chronicles of Riddick, the sequel to the breakout 2000 sci-fi sleeper Pitch Black. Even though the sequel still needs a director, it's scheduled for Universal's summer 2003 schedule.

Diesel chose Chronicles over the title role in Daredevil, a Fox adaptation of the Marvel Comics serial about a blind lawyer who becomes a superhero, according to Variety.

Which leads us to ask, has Nicolas Cage — who's been attached to nearly every comic book project these days from Hard Boiled to Ghost Rider to Superman — heard about this one?

Diesel has been rumored (along with such unlikely competition as Seth Green and Jude Law) to be cast as the new villain in the Terminator 3 film. Looks like he'll be far too busy now to play with Arnold.

Reuters/Variety contributed to this story.