Vince Vaughn Explains The Secrets Of Improv On The Delivery Man Set
It probably wonít surprise you if I tell you Vince Vaughn in a garrulous guy. Like the fast-talking swing-dancing playboy he played in his breakthrough feature Swingers, Vaughn can go a mile a minute if the subject at hand grabs him, and his enthusiasm is contagious. This turned a room full of reporters and bloggers on the set of Delivery Man into a pack of grinning fools as Vaughn talked about his latest project, his careerís highs and lows, and his thoughts on fatherhood. But aside for obvious excitement over the above, he also showed a surprising distaste for what many people consider improv, and flat-out sneered at actors who lose weight as a tool to earn critical praise.
In the American remake of Starbuck, Delivery Man, writer-director Ken Scott asked Vaughn to walk a tricky line between layered drama and light-hearted comedy. ďI always considered myself an actor first and foremost,Ē Vaughn told us on the second to last day of the filmís production. Despite his general happy-go-lucky attitude, he was quick to expand on what he considers acting, and what he sees as novelty. After telling us he felt the key to acting is essentially looking like youíre not acting, he expanded a headline-grabbing trend that irks him:
ďSometimes people will lose a ton of weight or gain a ton of weight, but theyíre boring as fuck to watch. But people go, ĎThis is amazing! This person gained or lost a lot of weight, this is incredible!í I think thereís a time and place for it and thereís times Iíve seen it done where I thought it was great. I think some people go ďThat means theyíre phenomenal. They lost all this weight or gained all this weight.ĒÖAnd Iím sure there are other great examples of it, but sometimes, I think people do that because they want to have control over it, thereís something that they want to feel like theyíre doing and they physicalize it. But then you get on set and they donít know their f*cking lines. Itís weird.Ē
He was also outspoken on the current state of improvisational comedy, denouncing what many seem to think is ďimprov.Ē After speaking to his own training in the skill set, he stated:
ďTo me, improv is really listening, itís really being in your character and committed to being able to react to whatís happening. I love to say the lines. I donít improvise as much as people think, but our style would be that if you have whatís scripted, sometimes itís fun to see if thereís a different way--a fresh way--to get to the same thing. But some people think that improv is ĎWhatís the craziest thing I can say? Whatís the most shocking thing I can say?í but it has nothing to do with the story....I think what happened is that when we started doing these comedies in recent time and started doing stuff, younger generations and people started thinking ďOh, improv, improvĒ but I donít think a lot of them know what theyíre doing and I think a lot of these schools that have sprung up and teach it donít really understand it.Ē
In just a 24-minute interview, my opinion of Vaughn was transformed intensely. No longer did I think of him as a goofy guy with acting muscles that he could flex when called upon. Now I saw Vaughn as a dedicated actor who takes a great deal of pride in his work whether it be something serious like the Joseph Ruben thriller Return to Paradise or the willfully silly buddy-comedy The Internship. In the case of Delivery Man, Vaughn as a new father himself felt connected to the story of an forty-something manchild forced to grow up fast when he learns that his overzealous sperm donating has lead to more than 500 offspring, many of whom are looking to know their bio dad. You can read the more from the interview, including more on what he talked about above, on the following pages.
I get the impression that this movie is more dramatic than the things youíve been doing lately. Was it a conscious decision to do something more dramatic?
Vince Vaughn: I donít know if it was conscious. My sister saw the movie (Starbuck) and said I had to see it. And I was working at the time and just wasnít good at multi-tasking and then when I saw the movie, I really loved it because it was fresh. It was different than a lot of things that you see. It was original in thought, and I thought it was really well constructed. I loved the movie. The thing that made me interested in doing this was Ken, the fact that he wrote it and directed it and that he wanted to do it again is what made it exciting for me because I really thought he did a good job on every aspect of the film. I always loved the material and itís a great part to play but I think on some level. Itís been interesting for me, because when I started with Swingers and I did smaller movies like Made or Return to Paradise, stuff like that that was more dramatic.
I remember when Todd (Phillips) wanted to put me in Old School, they didnít want to hire me because they didnít think I could do comedy Ďcause I had gotten more dramatic stuff. But then I did Old School and all those moviesóDodgeball, Wedding Crashersóthey all were fun movies but I didnít have a conscious effort (in choosing to do comedies). I donít know, but I donít work from a place of saying ďI need to do this or show people.Ē I probably didnít do a very good job even of planning of ďIím going to do this movie and then that movie.Ē I would just like something and then I would want to go do it. I do think you wake up at some point where you maybeÖ for me anywayÖ youíve done a similar kind of film for a while or stuff thatís kind of in the same. You feel like I donít have something fresh to do or Iím not as motivated but I took a lot of time off. I started doing less movies when I started doing Couples Retreat and then I didnít do as many.
Then when I did The Dilemma, when I did that, I took a lot of time off because my wife was having a baby and I was tired and wasnít motivated to do stuff. So now that Iím doing stuff again, I canít say that I made an effort to try to do other stuff but Iím open to it. And I think I was less motivated to cultivate, to try to just do the same kind of comedies and stuff. Even in The Internship, which was my idea, I think itís very timely because itís about two guys who lose everything. I think itís very relatable. There are guys who wake up with their jobs kind of gone instinct and their skill set doesnít feel like it translates to todayís technologies and what people have. It has a heavier grounding to it, still a comedy and very funny and a good tone. I think it starts from a more extreme human place.
I think what I like with this one is that itís a very funny conceptóguy wakes up and realizes that the sperm he gave actually went somewhere. Heís got 500 kids. When heís 18, he doesnít even think of consequences. Heís just getting paid 35 bucks to go into an air-conditioned room, but now itís like, ďOh, wait a minute, they really did stuff with that and I have 500 kids.Ē It is really about being a parent or being a child. Itís about family, itís about life, itís about all those things, but itís a really funny concept that weíre laying into it. I donít know if that answered it but it was less of a conscious thing but I did start to feel like I was not as motivated to do the similar type of stuff that I had been doing.
Was it a coincidence that this film came to you as you became a father?
That was powerful for me because as a dad, as a parent, you have a lot of hopes and great things, mainly about your kid being enthusiastic about something that they love to do, having self-respect, being surrounded by good people. And then you have a fear of them getting caught up in stuff thatís maybe not as rewarding or as connected and stuff, which we all go through phases. So I think whatís fun about the movie is that through the different kids, because there are so many, you play out all of those anxieties or hopes of this kidís doing well or this kidís really in a bad spot. You start to realize the difference of believing in someone or feeling like thereís going to be a tomorrow can go a long way for folks that donít feel like they have that messaging in their life. I felt like as a dad, it really hit me because all those things were going through my mind of ďWhatís the life going to be like for these kids?Ē
With Starbuck opening in the spring of 2013 in the US, and Delivery Man coming out in the fall, are you worried that theyíre too close together?
No, I donít think so. I think thereís something with Ken and us doing the movie thatís almost like a play in that itís different spices in the mix. Again, the thing that made me want to do it was the fact that Ken was so interested and as he directs, he really cares. Each take matters to him. Itís important to him, so for me, I donít worry about that as much. I feel like itís a very powerful, great story. I think itís interesting in this world that young actors have gotten really interesting, and I think people into the first one will be interested in seeing this New York version of it. I think people who havenít seen the first one will love the concept and ultimately really love what the DNA of the movie is about. I guess itís like a song, like when someone sings a song. You love it but Iíd be interested if I like the song to hear someone else cover it, especially if it was the same composer doing it with different instruments, maybe thatís interesting.
Speaking of the original, why is this called Delivery Man and not Starbuck?
I believe the name meant something more in Montreal, it was like a famous bull that was a breeder or something that was a breeder. So it had a meaning there, and here, the name stays the same as far as the character. But Delivery Man became the title that they went with (for the American version of the movie).
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