Vince Vaughn: Company

January 1999


Tired of all the skinny little pretty boys Hollywood's churning out at the moment? Well, take a deep breath and feast your eyes on Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome himself, Vince Vaughn - all 6ft 5in of him. Mmm...

The girl in the lobby is smiling at Vince Vaughn. Not the giddy grin prompted by the recognition of some celeb you can't quite place, but the magnetic smile reserved only for objects of pure animal attraction.

And who can blame her? At 6ft 5 in with an athlete's body, run-your-fingers-through-it curly brown hair and the kind of eyes that undress a girl, Vaughn is 100% superhero material. Right now, with four films about to hit the screen, Vaughn, 28, is so hot you can almost hear the sizzle when he speaks. A star member of the new Hollywood brat pack, Vince is already being compared in La-La Land to a young Orson Welles, a young Paul Newman... a young Marlon Brando... Especially Brando. Its' the lips... oh, those lips.

Anne Heche knows them well. His co-star in the upcoming film Return to Paradise sure didn't look like she needed acting classes to get hot and heavy with Vaughn in their steamy love scenes. It prompted rumour that this decidedly gay actress (her lover is Ellen star Ellen Degeneres) was in danger of crossing back to the other side so she could be with Vince full-time.

Vaughn raises an eyebrow at the suggestion. 'It's an interesting story but just that, a story,' he says. 'In truth we're just friends. I'm very happily involved in a relationship and Anne obviously is too.'

The girl in Vaughn's life is his co-star in A Cool Dry Place, Joey Lauren Adams (also from Chasing Amy). In the film, Vaughn plays a lawyer whose wife walks out on him and his four-year-old son. 'I met Joey two years ago in a bar and we went out on a few dates, but nothing came of it,' he says. 'It was weird that we ended up doing this movie together because it was kind of unresolved between us.

'Obviously I'm biased, but even before we were involved, I liked her work. I thought she was vulnerable and honest on screen, and I like that quality in an actor, the ability to be naked emotionally. Plus, I thought she was beautiful.'

And if Joey is his ideal woman, it's because she's like his mother and older sisters. 'I had a strong relationship with my sisters so I have the ability to hang out with women in a non-sexual way,' he explains. 'I guess for me, my mom and sisters are the kind of women I like - people you can be real with and have a rapport with.'

Vince is obviously into family - and that includes having one of his own some day. 'I'd like to have a family, definitely,' he says. 'With a career, though, you can't really plan on having kids, and you keep saying, well, I'm not ready yet - but when are you ready? Hopefully for me it will be a moment where I'll get overwhelmed and it will feel right."

Vaughn's father Vernon was an Ohio farm boy who went on to become a sales rep; his mother, Sharon, was a local beauty queen who first tried her luck as a hairdresser before becoming an estate agent and, later, a stockbroker. He grew up with sisters Valerie and Victoria, and their three dogs, Viking, Vero, and Vladimir. 'My mother was into Vs, ' he laughs. 'My dad was the first generation to leave the farm and he worked hard to put himself through college. My background was working-class people who loved their family, who had to get up and bust their ass 16 hours a day.'

But a working-class kid in a posh Chicago neighbourhood meant Vaughn grew up feeling like a bit of a misfit. 'We were like the Beverly Hillbillies, completely out of place.' Vaughn was something of a joker in school, a bright spark without the grades to prove it, a popular athlete who acted in community theater, the class president who nearly didn't graduate. 'I always defied categorisation,' he says now. 'I'm half Protestant and half Catholic, parts Irish, Italian, English, Lebanese and German. I was never 100% welcome in any club and I think that's a real blessing.'

Vaughn might even have gone on to become a professional athlete if it weren't for a car accident at 17 when he damaged his back. On the advice of his doctors he abandoned sports altogether and turned his attentions to acting instead. Luckily for him the movie paid off, with lead roles in local plays and a Chevrolet commercial that was seen nationwide.

Convinced of his own abilities, Vaughn set out for Hollywood at the age of 18. He quickly landed an agent , but then toiled away in obscurity for the next eight years.

'I came out here and started going to these acting classes,' he says with a hearty laugh. 'There would be a kid on stage doing a scene and the teacher would say, "I'm feeling something... What are you feeling?" The kind would then cry his eyes out, about how his dad didn't show up at a performance of Brigadoon or something... Then afterwards, everyone in the class is hugging him. And, I'm thinking... like, are you out of your mind?

Then Vaughn met Jon Favreau and, like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, they created their own ticket to Hollywood stardom. Swingers, based loosely on their own exploits, followed a group of boozing, unemployed actors who deliver their best lines to women in bars. Shot on a shoestring budget, it became an instant cult classic. 'With Swingers we were able to do something new and completely original,' explains Vaughn. 'We captured a moment and Hollywood simply responded to it.'

For Vaughn, it also spelled the end of obscurity. Swingers was followed by the offer of a juicy leading role in Spielberg's epic The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2. 'I was just dumbstruck when I heard the news,' he says.

And that's just the start. This month Vaughn headlines in Return to Paradise, a tightly wrought character drama in which his New York limo driver must return to Malaysia to save the life of an old traveling buddy (Joaquin Phoenix). His performance has earned praise from critics and well, you already know about those steamy sex scenes. He'll follow with the black comedy Clay Pigeons, again with Phoenix, playing a cowboy truck driver whose friendly intentions border on the psychotic. Then he'll cross that border altogether with the lead in Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho (with a second helping of Heche), due for a release in the States before the end of 1998.

Despite the fact that Vaughn is Mr. Right Now, success doesn't seem to have changed this laid-back Lothario. In his chunky grey sweater and stubble he looks reassuringly approachable and confesses he still lives on Hollywood's unfashionable East Side in a one-bedroom flat, 'because I'm comfortable there... it's home.'

The brat pack stuff isn't swelling his ego, either. 'I think it's dangerous when the hype gets ahead of the work,' he says. 'I do appreciate the attention, don't get me wrong, but will I really be sitting around talking to you four years from now? I certainly hope so, but only time will tell. I'm not big on structure in my life. I kind of trust things and go with the flow... So far it seems to be working fine for me.'



Movie Actor, LaLa Land

Don't I know you from ...?

Originally fast talking retro-styling Trent Walker in Doug Lyman's 1996 indie-hit Swingers. Now, many more may know Vince as Jeremy Klein in Wedding Crashers or Beanie in Old School.

Where might you spot Vince?

Holiday Club on N. Sheridan in Chicago.

Who might be holding Vince's hand?

I guess no longer Jennifer Aniston!

Ever notice that ...?

Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, and Will Ferrell are together everywhere in the movies. Known to some as the "Frat Pack," keep it coming, guys.