Vin Diesel has been rightly acclaimed for his gruff virility in films like Boiler Room, The Chronicles of Riddick and The Fast and the Furious, but we think we can all agree that the actors’ true masterpiece is the hearfelt Valentine’s Day cover of Rihanna’s “Stay” he recorded during what seems to have been a particularly lonesome night last week.
Like many great thespians, Diesel in the original clip used his utter inscrutability as a weapon, drawing us into a mystery we would never have the answers to. Where was he recording this? Why did he choose “Stay”? Was there even anyone else in the room? Diesel’s directorial choices underscored this; we could barely even see his face, his features lost in a shadow as murky as his motivations.
But while Diesel is a thespian he is also an auteur, and shares the contemporary filmmaker’s weakness for remixing one’s own work into an endless kaleidoscope of deluxe editions and director’s cuts. The first (but probably not the last) new version of “Stay (by Vinbook)” was released today, and it sheds new light—literally—on one of the central conundrums of the original. Namely, was Vin Diesel even emoting while he was singing?
Now, we can confidently answer: Yes, he was. But whatever this new version loses in ambiguity, it makes up threefold in emotional resonance. Diesel has always been underrated as a pure actor but this version, shot in tight close-up just like Rihanna’s original, is as naked and tender as the song that inspired it: