Chatting with Vince Vaughn
Jessica Shaffer | Tuesday, September 22, 2009
You may have spotted Vince Vaughn, beloved comedian, wandering the Notre Dame campus last weekend. Hopefully you had your very own Vince Vaughn sighting, whether that be in the form of a furtive glance during his LaFortune Huddle run or blatantly gawking at him as he stood on the sidelines with the Miller Highlife Guy at Saturday’s game.
Still, you didn’t have to have a personal viewing of Vaughn to know he’s a campus figure … his image from the “Wedding Crashers” cover dorm room walls and DVD boxes that seem to be ever-present on campus, his great one-liners inundate our conversation, and many of us still debate his relationship with Jennifer Aniston on and off the screen. Recently, I got a chance to talk to Vaughn during a phone interview and got the inside scoop on his new film “Couples Retreat,” the affect of his Midwest upbringing, and his current emphasis on family values both in and out of his work.
“Couples Retreat,” Vaughn’s new comedy premieres Oct. 9 in theatres, centers on four Midwestern Couples that retreat to a Tropical paradise for and sun, unaware that that couples’ therapy is less than optional. As Vaughn explained, “It was an idea I had about of Midwestern Couples … makes four archetypal couples with all seemingly prominent problems with their relationships.” The film on the whole, “comes back to the basics of family and relationships. So that was sort of the mission: to take some regular folks from the Midwest and put them in an extreme type of circumstances.” The trailer promises plenty of “extreme circumstances,” previewing scenes fully equipped with sharks, beaches, and oversexed yoga instructors.
Vaughn was highly active in the new picture, not only creating the basic concept and plot, but also helping to assemble the cast, which includes Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Malin Ackerman and Kristin Bell, and co-writing the film’s script. This active role in film making is not unusual for the actor, who in the past has contributed heavily to “The Break-Up, “Made,” “Wedding Crashers” and “Swingers” without screen credit. He elaborated on the creative process behind “Couples Retreat” saying, “Jon [Favreau] wrote the first draft, and then I wrote it from there as he started to get busier with “Iron Man II.” He also added that “actors would bring their ideas and sometimes we do two or three takes and sort of improvise, but we had a pretty good screenplay.”
The creative process behind “Couples Retreat” was clearly driven heavily by Vaughn’s comedic talent and his relationship with people he’d worked with in past films, like Favreau, who’s costarred with Vaughn on numerous films throughout their careers, or director Peter Billingsley who notably directed “The Break-Up.” He seemed to express confidence in the talent of his costars when he said “It’s good to be funny. But when you can be an actor too and be believable with stuff … in our comedy there’s always a story to it or hopefully circumstances that you are buying into. So that when things go awry you can laugh harder because you’re invested in the characters rather than just being a series of scenes or sketches.”
Vaughn’s motivation and inspiration behind the new release was affected by his personal life, specifically his recent engagement to 29-year-old Canadian real estate agent, Kyla Weber. Vaughn clarified that “a lot of stuff coming out of Hollywood I’ve always found, being from the Midwest and coming from the background that I did” didn’t match up with his concept of healthy lasting relationships. Instead he “wanted to make something that was pro-marriage and pro-family and pro-staying together. That was the concept of ‘Couples Retreat.’ I’m now engaged and getting ready to start a family. I wanted to make fun and have fun with the concept of new age, always looking for answers, far out ideas of how to handle a relationship.”
But don’t be fooled by all the talk of traditional Midwest family values and emphasis on starting a family in healthy relationships, “Couples Reatreat” will not be in the same vein of Vaughn’s recent PG works, “Fred Claus” and “Four Christmases.” Vaughn warned “‘Couples Retreat’ is more like ‘Dodgeball’ and those movies than ‘Four Christmases’ or ‘Fred Claus.’ … This is very dialogue driven and has adult themes that are done in a take that’s kind of hip and fun. When I say family values, it’s not that the movie is PG or saying this is how people should live their life. I think that it’s more contemporary with real relationships and what people go through.”
While inspired by his Midwestern upbringing, upcoming marriage, and relationship with his costars, Vaughn noted that he got his start on Notre Dame’s campus during the filming of “Rudy.” He explained “Growing up in Chicago, I was always a fan of Notre Dame. And going to shoot Rudy was one of the first films I did, was a special experience for me being there. And playing a football player gave me access to the locker room and some of those things just made me a bigger fan. It is different there … it’s a great history a great tradition. It’s fun to go and be a part of it.”
While Vince Vaughn loves Notre Dame, we all know that Notre Dame loves Vince Vaughn, and looks forward to his new film and future visits to the campus.