Arts: Swingers star discusses success

While making his credited screen debut in Rudy, Vince Vaughn became friends with another struggling young actor, Jon Favreau, who decided to write Vaughn into a script he was working on. That script eventually became the critical hit Swingers. And what at first seemed a minor career sideline soon vaulted Vaughn into films by such major directors as Steven Spielberg and Gus Van Sant.

Although the movie’s Hollywood setting and swing soundtrack are an inseparable part of Swingers style, Vaughn credits its universal applicability for its continuing popularity through the past five years.

.”(Swingers) was about a guy trying to get past an old relationship and have the ability to meet someone new and his friends encouraging him to do so,” said Vaughn in a recent interview. “I think that happens everywhere. The backdrop happened to be that area that is in Hollywood. Our characters happened to be out of work actors.

“Whether it happened in the South or on the East Coast or in a foreign country, that is still the main message of the movie.”

According to Vaughn, the Hollywood portrayed in the film has little to do with the town as a whole.

.”That was not the majority of Hollywood,” he said. “In fact, it was a counteraction to what was going on. At the time androgyny was very big, there was a lot of piercings. We just felt more comfortable in a group with guys dressing up a bit, girls dressing up a bit and having a dance.”

Vaughn still finds that his tastes, if not in music than in relationships, lean toward tradition.

“I’m much more into dating a girl one on one,” Vaughn said. “I’m not into wild, crazy nights with barheads. As far as dating is concerned, I like having one person and talking to them and getting to know them and having fun. My thing was never getting my body pierced or being attracted to people who had tons of piercings.”

Vaughn has continued to work with Favreau, including the past summer release Made, and they plan to do a “western.” Although Vaughn is not officially listed in the writing credits for Swingers or Made, he worked closely with Favreau on script development behind the scenes.

“I’m pretty happy with the way I collaborate with John right now,” Vaughn said. “He writes the script and we’ll go and make changes to it. That is the most fun. And the credits don’t matter as much. It’s more about having a chance to storytell.”

But Vaughn’s film credits include more than just movies with friends. Spielberg, after seeing Swingers, cast Vaughn in the Jurassic Park blockbuster sequel The Lost World. Vaughn also starred alongside Jennifer Lopez in The Cell and played Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho. Now in Domestic Disturbance, which opens Friday, Vaughn shares the bill with movie icon John Travolta as the stepfather trying to conceal his criminal past.

“I’ve chosen my roles mainly on different components that I would find interesting to play,” said Vaughn, describing his varied filmography. “A script, or character, or cast member or director that you find interesting. I’ve tried to do things that I haven’t actually done before. Just to challenge yourself and do new stuff.”

He often plays a villain. Vaughn finds these types of characters simply “more fun to play. Not because they are bad, but because they are socially extreme.”

Another difference between his work with Favreau and the larger studio productions is the filming schedule.

“Swingers we shot in 21 days, Made we shot in 26 days, Domestic Disturbance took about 6 months,” Vaughn said. “When you have more money and more schedules and more things, it provides you more luxury. Sometimes, I think on smaller movies, those things that seem like a disadvantage become an advantage because it’s really forcing you to concentrate and focus on what you are working on, and it sometimes elevates the work.”

Often, some of Vaughn’s most memorable lines in Favreau’s movies – catchphrases such as “money” – have come into the work through improvisation. But Vaughn makes a distinction as to what exactly “improvisation” is for him.

“When an athlete takes a jump shot in a game, that’s something they’ve practiced and that moment is what comes out,” Vaughn said. “The improv that was in Made or Swingers with Favreau, we really know our characters, and we know those scenes. So if something comes up and those people know their characters, they can both just go with it. It’s not much different than method acting.”

In spite of his recent success, Vaughn keeps himself modest, choosing to focus one production at a time.

“I like really working hard and really preparing and planning everything out, doing a lot of read-throughs of the script, really talking about shots, looking up locations . and then when you go into it, it really should be the easiest time that you have, because you are so prepared,” Vaughn said. “So you go fast, and get a lot of momentum and a lot of energy to it. That’s my favorite way of shooting. It’s like a sprint versus a jog.”

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