Vin Diesel Gave Steven Spielberg Some Directions Of His Own During Saving Private Ryan

Before Vin Diesel went on to star in his own billion-dollar franchise with "Fast and Furious" in 2001,  the actor was a relative unknown trying to make a name for himself in the filmmaking business. Enter "Saving Private Ryan" in 1998, the absolutely devastating war film by Steven Spielberg, who took a chance on this Diesel kid and cast him in a supporting role. He had only one feature film called "Strays" on his résumé which he had directed, written, and starred in before Spielberg approached him for the now-classic film. But that didn't stop the young filmmaker from giving the already vastly experienced Spielberg some directions of his own.

His minor yet memorable part as Private Caparzo may often be referred to as a fun fact about one of cinema's biggest action stars; however, it allowed Diesel to witness blockbuster filmmaking firsthand. And he took advantage of it, going as far as to give Spielberg a very specific suggestion that actually improved a scene that he was acting in.

Giving notes to the auteur

Talking to Men's Health, Diesel revealed that he had a suggestion for Spielberg while filming the sequence where Caparzo heroically perishes, one that directly impacts the composition of the scene. According to his story, it started with him asking the "Jaws" director a simple question: "Hey, Steven, where's your C camera?" who then replied "What? Why?" before Diesel hit him with "put a C camera in that second-floor window." Not only did Spielberg follow his direction, but the shot was so compelling that it was used to market the film in the official trailer. 

Of course, Diesel was apparently laughing it up while telling the story, exclaiming "Oh God. Oh God! I shouldn't even be saying that." However, Diesel had this to say in regards to Spielberg's desire for him to be more than just an actor on set: 

"But it was a blessing, and I can say that because Steven was also the person who said — he'll say to this day — 'I didn't hire you just as an actor, Vin, I expect you to be directing. I expect you to be directing.' "

Diesel is now a full-fledged movie star, but it is inspiring to see that even at a young age his unadulterated love for the filmmaking process never wavered even in the face of a decorated director like Spielberg. Quite frankly, it inspiring that the auteur did not seem to hesitate to hear out the suggestion, which was certainly implemented in great fashion.

Could Diesel return to directing?

Many years after "Saving Private Ryan" was released, Spielberg still expected to see Diesel pursue directing duties after their collaboration on the war film. According to the actor, who spoke to The National in 2020, the "Jurassic Park" director was insistent that he should go back behind the camera.

"Speaking of Steven Spielberg, I saw him recently, and he had said to me, 'When I wrote the role for you in Saving Private Ryan, I was obviously employing the actor, but I was also secretly championing the director in you, and you have not directed enough. That is a crime of cinema and you must get back in the directing chair.' I haven't directed enough."

Yes, the guy who directed one of the most harrowing and intense war sequences of all time was declaring Diesel's absence from the director's chair a crime against the art form itself. The actor could have embellished a bit here, however, we already know that Spielberg kept an eye on him since his indie filmmaking days. Diesel may be focused on finishing what he started with the "Fast and Furious" franchise but perhaps it is about time he returned to his roots and handled directing duties on a project.

Perhaps a young, committed actor on that project gives Diesel a helpful directing note, allowing the cycle to continue.