Mark Sinclair Vincent, better known by his stage name Vin Diesel, turns 49 today! Everyone knows the actor as ‘Mr. Fast & Furious’, and quite understandably so. Diesel has been at the forefront of ‘The Fast and The Furious’ series since its beginning in 2001, portraying the character of Dominic Toretto. Many characters have come and gone, but he has been active throughout, and is all set to star in the eighth installment of the franchise – Fast 8. Now fifteen years and running, it just shows his commitment to the series. He also recently announced that even the ninth and tenth films are scheduled to be released – on April 19, 2019 and April 2, 2021, respectively.

Of course he has had other prominent roles too, like in films like Boiler Room (2000), The Pacifier (2005), xXx (2002) and Find Me Guilty (2006). He has also lent his voice to films like The Iron Giant (1999) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). He isn’t just an actor – he has also written, directed, produced, and starred in a short film titled Multi-Facial (1995) and a feature-length drama film called Strays (1997). Want to know more about him? Check out some interesting facts below:

Aged 17, he began working as a bouncer at a nightclub in New York called the Tunnel, where he got the name Vin Diesel. While ‘Vin’ is simply a shortened version of ‘Vincent’, he received the nickname Diesel from his friends, who said he "ran off diesel fuel", referring to his non-stop energy.

He made his stage debut at just the age of 7, when he was cast in the children’s play Dinosaur Door. Diesel, along with his brother and some friends broke into the theater with intentions to vandalize it. They were confronted by the theater’s artistic director, Crystal Field, who, instead of calling the police, handed them scripts and offered them parts in the upcoming show. Diesel’s first film role was a brief uncredited appearance in the film Awakenings (1990), which stars Robin Wiliams and Robert De Niro.

He said that his biggest fear is "walking into a wall and busting his lip". As strangely specific as it sounds, it really is scary come to think of it…

As an actor, he has the highest amount of ‘likes’ on his Facebook page – a whopping 99.8 million likes! Second place goes to Will Smith, followed by Jackie Chan.

He once worked as a telemarketer selling lightbulbs. The skill of telemarketing proved to be useful in the future, when it helped him raise close to $50,000 to fund his first full-length feature movie, Strays (1997). His first short movie was Multi-Facial (1995), which he made at the age of just 26. Shot in less than three days at a cost of $3,000, the 1995 film was screened at Cannes Film Festival. Both films were written, directed, produced by Diesel, and starring Diesel as well.

In his teens, he appeared in an instructional break-dancing video called "Breakin’ in the USA." Check it out here. He also used to rap when he was younger, under the name Mark Vincent itself.

He absolutely loves his co-stars – some of his best friends include Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez, who both star in The Fast and The Furious series. He also dated Michelle for a while and they’re still close – his children refer to her as their aunt. His third child (daughter), is named Pauline after his late friend Paul.

He is the founder of a production company called One Race Films, a record label called Racetrack Records, and a video game programming company called Tigon Studios.

The book ‘Feature Film-making at Used Car Prices’ by Rick Schmidt is what he attributes the success of his career to. Given to him by his mother, the book is what provided him with the knowledge and inspiration to develop his short film Multi-Facial (1995).