Why Riddick was easier to make as a brutal R-rated movie

This weekend brought us a brand-new trailer for Riddick, pitting Vin Diesel against a fresh set of alien horrors. Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, and Riddick director David Twohy sat down at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss how Riddick advances the series' mythology and why they wanted to make it an R-rated film.

"Once we realized that we were not going to be a studio picture, that we were going to be an independent picture, it was both kind of daunting and liberating for us," Twohy said at Friday's Hall H panel. "And the process became very streamlined. Creative meetings were in Vin's kitchen." While Twohy sat on the counter and Diesel paced around the kitchen trying not to smoke cigarettes, they decided that, like Pitch Black, Riddick would be a survival story. "We knew we wouldn't have all the money in the world to spend on this one, but a survival story was the way to go."

The pair wanted to create a film that blended the style and tempo of Pitch Black with the mythology established in Chronicles of Riddick. "We really liked the idea that we were expanding this mythology when we did Chronicles of Riddick, and yet at the same time, in order to do a film of that size and that budget, we had to go PG-13," Diesel explains. For a long time, Twohy and Diesel were struggling to get this third movie made, although they told studio executives that there is a core audience that deeply connects with the series and that they themselves connect with it as artist. "And so when this audience asked for this movie to be rated R, it actually helped us get the movie made, because we didn't have to spend $200 million to make the movie."

Sackhoff, who plays the character Dahl, says that she had great fun playing a pure badass without a softer side. "I loved Dahl," she says. "I loved how strong she was and that she didn't really apologize for anything. I don't see a weakness in her, and that's something I hadn't played before. I usually play a vulnerability in the character, and with Dahl there was no vulnerability other than that she was a woman." She did not, for the record, elaborate on that last point, though she did add, "I got to shoot really big guns. I think my gun was the biggest one."

Diesel also discussed a little bit about what drives Riddick himself. "I think the core for the Riddick character, he's driven by some quest for identity. We were introduced to his character in Pitch Black, and he's mocking where he comes from for his own amusement. And throughout the mythology, we learn more and more about who he is and where he's from."

But he's especially excited about how this film contributes to the Riddick mythology, saying, "If you're following the mythology, you can only imagine where you'll be in this movie. And if you're following the mythology, you know that eventually, you're end up in the Underverse."