Vince Vaughn Steps Out Of His Comfort Zone

The comedy connoisseur is older and wiser in his new hard-hitting film, 'Brawl In Cell Block 99'

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As Rita Hayworth knew when she lamented "Men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me", people often want to meet the character not the actor.

As such, when Vince Vaughn enters a room you're hoping he orders a round of shots before pulling you into a bear hug and saying "You're so money, baby" against your face, like Trent Walker his wise-cracking character from Swingers. In reality the now 47-year-old actor may be calmer than you hoped, but he's polite and engaging company.

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Vaughn came to fame after that iconic 1996 comedy, in which he starred alongside Jon Favreau in a story of heartache and male friends that would be much imitated but rarely bettered by the decades of 'bromance' comedies it helped spawn.

"That was the moment I no longer felt like an unknown actor" he tells me, fresh from speaking at the Esquire Townhouse, sat in a black puffer coat to guard against the London October weather.

"[Swingers] makes you excited to date and to meet someone," he says, speaking of how the film has held up to this day. "Even though the technology and the language has changed, it still shows what it's like to be vulnerable with women, and it feels honest."

The early noughties saw him appear in a string of comedies with his frat pack co-stars from Old School to Dodgeball to, perhaps most famously of all, the role of badly behaved (and uninvited) guest Jeremy Grey in Wedding Crashers.

Vaughn speaking at the Esquire Townhouse

His characters were always your friend. The guy you went to when your were hung up on a girl to make you feel great. It's a persona the public still associate with him he says.

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"People feel like there's a connection and a friendship there, so they go in right away" he says, chuckling about having '"Just the tip" or "You motor-boatin' son of a bitch" hollered at him in inconvenient places. "People are friendly for the most part, and I get a kick out of it," he laughs.

Perhaps hoping to replicate Matthew McConaughey's much fabled acting revival, Vaughn too has stepped away from the keg stand and made a choice to take on what he terms 'adult roles' after getting married and having children.

"I did less and said no to some things I would have just said yes to before," he says. "I think I got a bit comfortable for a while."

In 2015 he starred alongside Colin Farrell in the second series of True Detective, and last year he appeared in the Oscar-nominated Hacksaw Ridge. But the 'Vaughnaissance' will go to the next level this year with his performance in Brawl In Cell Block 99, in which the New York Times described him as a "revelation".

Vaughn in 'Brawl In Cell Block 99'

In it he plays Bradley Thomas, a laid-off mechanic who turns to drug dealing to support his expecting wife and consequently must survive prison. It's a shockingly violent film and one which Vaughn has to transform himself for: "There was an accent and a physicality I had to step up to, and a lot of emotional elements to this character that meant I was fearful going in," he admits.

Though roles that require physical transformations are routinely branded Oscar-bait, Vaughn insist this wasn't what drew him in: "I just really liked the story, so I had to do the head shaving and physical stuff because those things came with it."

It might sound like a one-eighty for a man we're accustomed to seeing taking things easy, but in real life he's not taking things too seriously. "I'm not a person that likes to tell people what to do," he says. "Society makes us feel so fearful, like we have to follow instructions, and too many people are doing things because they're worried about what other people think."

And don't worry, he's still thinking of his buddies first and foremost. "I have a lot of friends who I don't agree with on anything," he says. "But we allow each other the space to be who we are. It's important to spend your time with people who are rooting for you to do well."

You can almost feel Owen Wilson nodding in the back of the room as he says it.

'Brawl in Cell Block 99' is in cinemas and on iTunes 20 October