Vin Diesel's female costars have tended to be young hotties like Asia Argento (''XXX'') and ''NYPD Blue'''s Jacqueline Obradors (''A Man Apart,'' due in April). His next leading lady, however, may be 68-year-old ''Shakespeare in Love'' Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench. According to the Hollywood Reporter, she's about to sign on to costar in ''The Chronicles of Riddick,'' the first of writer/director David Twohy's three planned sequels to the 2000 sci-fi hit ''Pitch Black,'' all of which center on Riddick, Diesel's infrared-vision antihero from the first film.
In ''Chronicles,'' Dame Judi would play Aereon, a galactic ambassador who helps Riddick learn the truth about his origins. The story finds Riddick caught between two sides in an interstellar crusade. Colm Feore, currently on screen in ''Chicago'' and ''National Security,'' will play the villainous leader on one side of the struggle. Shooting is to begin in April in Vancouver.
Dame Judi is no stranger to action fare, having played M in the last four 007 movies. Plus, Diesel's apparently a big fan, having caught her performance in the current stage production ''The Breath of Life'' opposite fellow Dame Maggie Smith a couple months ago in London's West End. According to the British tabloids, security turned Diesel away at the stage door, but he still sent Dench a bouquet the next day. We're not sure if the affection is mutual, or what she thought of ''XXX'' or ''Knockaround Guys.''