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Funny guy Vince Vaughn gets se­ri­ous for a minute with Tara Brady,

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ITS A BREAK­FAST-grilling 34 de­grees in Ge­or­gia as Vince Vaughn leaves re­hearsals for The In­tern­ship, a new com­edy fea­tur­ing Vaughn and fel­lowWed­ding Crasher Owen Wil­son. They don’t call it Hot-lanta for nothing, says the 6ft 5in star. In com­mon with most of his ut­ter­ances, it has the pleas­ing ring of an un­der­stated, ef­fort­less quip.

At­lanta is a good deal warmer, one must ad­mit, than Belfast, a city Vaughn and his sis­ter Va­leri have been fre­quent­ing for years. It’s a long story. The wise-crack­ing star of Swingers and Dodgeball: A True Un­der­dog Story can claim a di­verse lin­eage with an­ces­tral links to Eng­land, Ger­many, Le­banon, Italy and Ire­land. But in re­cent years, it’s his Ir­ish roots that have taken him on a fas­ci­nat­ing jour­ney, some­times fig­u­ra­tively, some­times lit­er­ally.

“I went to Ire­land with a friend of mine a few years back and just drove around, says Vaughn, who has an Ir­ish grand­fa­ther on one side of the fam­ily and an Ir­ish grand­mother on the other. I had so much fun but I got to tell you I was so scared driv­ing those lit­tle coun­try roads. They’re so deadly. And then they have those black spot signs that tell you things like ‘15 peo­ple have been killed on this road this year’. Well, thank you, for put­ting that in my mind, when I’m al­ready ter­ri­fied.”

On one such bumpy ex­cur­sion, he wound up tour­ing North­ern Ire­land, and Belfast where he was “blown away” by the city’s many po­lit­i­cal mu­rals.

“I was re­ally moved by them,” he tells me. “Be­fore that I wasn’t even aware that the mu­rals ex­isted. I know they came out of ex­treme con­flict and rep­re­sent ex­treme points of view. But I think they’re amaz­ing to look at. Ever since – for years in fact – I’ve been talk­ing about those mu­rals to ev­ery­one. In my mind, they’re like blues mu­sic: they’re an amaz­ing art form that comes from pain and con­flict.”

Did he know much about North­ern Ire­land and Belfast be­fore? “No. I was only vaguely aware of con­flict in Ire­land. It was some­thing I heard about and thought ‘ oh, that’s a shame’. I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly in­formed. But be­cause I was in­trigued by the art, I started to in­ves­ti­gate the mu­rals. And once you ask the ques­tion why did they draw this and what does it rep­re­sent, you learn about some­thing that happened on the Shankill Road 20 years ago or you learn about plas­tic bul­lets. I’m still no ex­pert on it by any means, but I know a lot more than I used to.”

Even­tu­ally, he talked Va­leri Vaughn, his big sis­ter, into a pil­grim­age to Belfast:

I brought her over and she was re­ally fas­ci­nated by the mu­rals too. She went to film school in Lon­don years ago and made a short that got a lot of at­ten­tion at festivals. But she be­came a school­teacher in South Cen­tral LA and was very pas­sion­ate about it. I knew this was some­thing that would in­spire her.

And it did. So we de­cided we’d make a doc­u­men­tary about the mu­rals and some of the mu­ral­ists.

Art of Con­flict, a chronicle of Belfasts mu­rals, their mean­ings and their post­sec­tar­ian evo­lu­tion, fea­tures an im­pres­sive roll-call of artists and politi­cians from both sides of the Ul­ster con­flict. The doc­u­men­tary – di­rected by Va­leri and pro­duced and nar­rated by Vince – has been a labour of love for the Vaughn sib­lings for many years. In­ter­vie­wees in­clude Gerry Adams and the late David Ervine, speak­ing to the film­mak­ers shortly be­fore his death in 2007.

“It’s some­thing we’ve been work­ing on for a long time,” says Vaughn. “We had so much footage and so many sto­ries. There were so many peo­ple to track down. And you also have to struc­ture the film in a way that ex­plains what is hap­pen­ing for some­one who knows nothing about this stuff.”

Vaughn drafted in Dan Leben­tal, an edi­tor best known for his work on the Iron Man movies, to help shape the film. “He’s best known for fea­ture films. He cut Elf for Jon Favreau. He worked with me on Cou­ples Re­treat. And we were so for­tu­nate be­cause he re­ally fell in love with this pro­ject.”

The fin­ished doc­u­men­tary will play at this year’s Gal­way Film Fleadh. “It’s the per­fect place for us to show it,” says Vaughn. “We’ve been get­ting a re­ally good re­sponse from peo­ple so its great that its get­ting out there.”

Its a sin­gu­lar pro­ject: how many Hol­ly­wood a-lis­ters do you know with a doc­u­men­tary on North­ern Ire­land to their credit? Then again, Vince Vaughn is a sin­gu­lar fel­low.

The dou­ble-v Vaughn sib­lings – Vince’s other sis­ter is called Vic­to­ria – were born in Min­nesota and raised in com­fort in Illi­nois: their Cana­di­an­born mother, Sharon Eileen, a real es­tate agent and stock bro­ker, was once listed by Bloomberg mag­a­zine as one of the US’s top money man­agers. The young Vince’s mo­tor­mouth brought him into con­flict with ed­u­ca­tors, who bandied around terms such as “hy­per­ac­tive” and “trou­bled”. A smart kid, he was bored by academia. He loved sports but was not par­tic­u­larly ath­letic. Fi­nally, in 1987, the teenage Vaughn found his niche when he signed up for a stint in mu­si­cal the­atre. He headed for Hol­ly­wood and never looked back.

“I knew from my fam­ily,” he says. “Go af­ter the thing you’re en­thu­si­as­tic about. If you can find some­thing that you like do­ing, then hard work is fun.”

Bit parts in shows such as Doo­gie Howser, M.D. and a na­tional ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign for Chevro­let fol­lowed. In 1993, Vaughn landed a small, speak­ing role in Rudy, where he met fel­low strug­gling ac­tor Jon Favreau. The pair

re­main friends and the re­la­tion­ship in­spired Favreau to write and direct Swingers, the 1996 com­edy that put Vaughn on the map.

He’s worked high-pro­file gigs ever since, in­clud­ing Spiel­berg’s Juras­sic Park: The Lost

World, Gus van Sant’s re­make of Psy­cho and

Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. His big­gest hits, how­ever, have been come­dies, many of which he also writes and pro­duces. By the mid­noughties he was re­garded as the head boy of the Frat Pack, a catch-all term for the new comic ac­tors of Zoolan­der, Old School, and An­chor­man: The Leg­end of Ron Bur­gundy.

“I had done a few things when the come­dies got go­ing,” he says. “It just happened that they were the best scripts around. And I ended up on a roll. We were never con­scious of the Frat Pack thing. The

In­tern­ship, for ex­am­ple, will be the first time I worked with Owen [Wil­son] in eight years.”

He has also lately re-teamed with Ben Stiller for The Watch, a new com­edy also fea­tur­ing Richard Ayoade and Jonah Hill.

“I like Jonah quite a bit. He's funny and re­ally tal­ented. I loved be­ing around that kid. And I loved work­ing with Richard. I thought he did such a great job di­rect­ing Sub­ma­rine.”

The Watch is Vaughn's first com­edy in al­most two years thanks to an ex­tended pa­ter­nity break. Vaughn, who has dated Joey Lau­ren Adams and Jen­nifer Anis­ton, seemed des­tined for Clooney-style bach­e­lor­hood un­til he met Kyla We­ber in 2008. Like mom, she’s a hard­work­ing Cana­dian real-es­tate agent. The pair mar­ried in 2010 and have one daugh­ter, Lock­lyn.

“I took time off to be with my wife and daugh­ter,” says Vaughn. “But then, she was breast­feed­ing for six months. And I re­alised for a dad, there’s not a lot you can do to help with that. But I just re­ally wanted to be there when we had the baby. It was great to have that time at home for the first year. I love just hang­ing out with my wife. She makes me laugh all the time. I was very lucky to meet her.”

Be­tween chang­ing di­a­pers – the cou­ple don’t have a nanny – and tin­ker­ing with the fi­nal cut of Art of Con­flict, Vaughn has found the time to lend sup­port to Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Ron Paul.

“I have my own views,” says Vaughn. “And I’ve al­ways liked Ron’s prin­ci­ples. I was happy to go to a cou­ple of events and in­tro­duce him. He’s a very gen­uine guy. For me, it’s all about the prin­ci­ple of lib­erty. A gov­ern­ment can’t create free­dom and equal­ity by us­ing force. My feel­ing is that gov­ern­ments have got­ten so pro­tec­tive through­out the world. A lot of times its very well in­ten­tioned. But there are al­ways un­in­tended con­se­quences when a gov­ern­ment starts in­ter­fer­ing with in­di­vid­ual free­doms.”

Can there be anything left on ac­tor­co­me­dian-pro­ducer-ac­tivist Vince Vaughn's to-do list, we won­der?

“Well, I’ve had a few of­fers around this su­per­hero craze, but nothing I felt pas­sion­ate about,” he says. “In the end, I al­ways fol­low the projects I con­nect with or feel en­thu­si­as­tic about. I know there are films out there that are made to be worth­while or that are made to change the world. But mostly I like telling sto­ries and mak­ing peo­ple laugh.

“You know. Movies for peo­ple.”

Art of Con­flict is screen­ing on Satur­day, July 14th, as part of the Gal­way Film Fleadh. The six-day fes­ti­val runs from next Tues­day, July 10th to Sunday, July 15th. For more, see gal­way­film­fleadh.com

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