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IS DIESEL THE REAL DEAL?

Vin Diesel attended stunt-driving school in Las Vegas for his role as a streetwise racer in "The Fast and the Furious."

"School started at 6 a.m., and I'd be just getting back to my hotel room thinking, "How can I at least make it look like I slept,' " Diesel tells Details magazine in its June issue.

Diesel plays Dominic Toretto, king of the Los Angeles street-racing scene. The film follows his uneasy friendship with a new kid on the block (Paul Walker), who turns out to be an undercover cop.

His previous films include "Saving Private Ryan," "Boiler Room" and last year's sci-fi horror flick, "Pitch Black."

"I auditioned for 10 years and . . . nothing," the 33-year-old actor recalled. "I was begging for roles. But I didn't know the game."

Is "The Fast and the Furious" the vehicle that will propel him to stardom?

"Every actor has a moment when he either breaks out or waves crash over his head," Rob Cohen, the film's director, tells the magazine. "This was Vin's opportunity, and he pulled it off. And Vin's not a pretty boy. As Arnold Schwarzenegger and his ilk get older, there's a vacuum Vin can fill."

Later this summer, Diesel co-stars with John Malkovich and Dennis Hopper in the gangster film "Knockaround Guys," and next year he stars in the drug thriller "Diablo."

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