It probably won’t 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 career’s 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. “I always considered myself an actor first and foremost,” Vaughn told us on the second to last day of the film’s 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 you’re not acting, he expanded a headline-grabbing trend that irks him:
“Sometimes people will lose a ton of weight or gain a ton of weight, but they’re boring as fuck to watch. But people go, ‘This is amazing! This person gained or lost a lot of weight, this is incredible!’ I think there’s a time and place for it and there’s times I’ve seen it done where I thought it was great. I think some people go “That means they’re phenomenal. They lost all this weight or gained all this weight.”…And I’m sure there are other great examples of it, but sometimes, I think people do that because they want to have control over it, there’s something that they want to feel like they’re doing and they physicalize it. But then you get on set and they don’t know their f*cking lines. It’s weird.”
He was also outspoken on the current state of improvisational comedy, denouncing what many seem to think is “improv.” After speaking to his own training in the skill set, he stated:
“To me, improv is really listening, it’s really being in your character and committed to being able to react to what’s happening. I love to say the lines. I don’t improvise as much as people think, but our style would be that if you have what’s scripted, sometimes it’s fun to see if there’s a different way--a fresh way--to get to the same thing. But some people think that improv is ‘What’s the craziest thing I can say? What’s the most shocking thing I can say?’ 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 “Oh, improv, improv” but I don’t think a lot of them know what they’re doing and I think a lot of these schools that have sprung up and teach it don’t really understand it.”
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 you’ve been doing lately. Was it a conscious decision to do something more dramatic?
Vince Vaughn: I don’t 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 wasn’t 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 it’s a great part to play but I think on some level. It’s 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 didn’t want to hire me because they didn’t think I could do comedy ‘cause I had gotten more dramatic stuff. But then I did Old School and all those movies—Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers—they all were fun movies but I didn’t have a conscious effort (in choosing to do comedies). I don’t know, but I don’t work from a place of saying “I need to do this or show people.” I probably didn’t do a very good job even of planning of “I’m going to do this movie and then that movie.” 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 maybe… for me anyway… you’ve done a similar kind of film for a while or stuff that’s kind of in the same. You feel like I don’t have something fresh to do or I’m 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 didn’t 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 wasn’t motivated to do stuff. So now that I’m doing stuff again, I can’t say that I made an effort to try to do other stuff but I’m 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 it’s very timely because it’s about two guys who lose everything. I think it’s very relatable. There are guys who wake up with their jobs kind of gone instinct and their skill set doesn’t feel like it translates to today’s 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 it’s a very funny concept—guy wakes up and realizes that the sperm he gave actually went somewhere. He’s got 500 kids. When he’s 18, he doesn’t even think of consequences. He’s just getting paid 35 bucks to go into an air-conditioned room, but now it’s like, “Oh, wait a minute, they really did stuff with that and I have 500 kids.” It is really about being a parent or being a child. It’s about family, it’s about life, it’s about all those things, but it’s a really funny concept that we’re laying into it. I don’t 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 that’s maybe not as rewarding or as connected and stuff, which we all go through phases. So I think what’s 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 kid’s doing well or this kid’s really in a bad spot. You start to realize the difference of believing in someone or feeling like there’s going to be a tomorrow can go a long way for folks that don’t 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 “What’s the life going to be like for these kids?”
With Starbuck opening in the spring of 2013 in the US, and Delivery Man coming out in the fall, are you worried that they’re too close together?
No, I don’t think so. I think there’s something with Ken and us doing the movie that’s almost like a play in that it’s 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. It’s important to him, so for me, I don’t worry about that as much. I feel like it’s a very powerful, great story. I think it’s 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 haven’t seen the first one will love the concept and ultimately really love what the DNA of the movie is about. I guess it’s like a song, like when someone sings a song. You love it but I’d 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 that’s 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).