Vince Vaughn Talks About "The Break-Up"

Vaughn Came Up with the Idea, Stars in and Produced "The Break-Up"

Vince Vaughn
Vince Vaughn arrives at UK premiere for "The Break-Up".

Dave Hogan/Getty Images 

Vince Vaughn follows up his hugely successful romantic comedy Wedding Crashers with what's best described as an anti-romantic comedy. Vaughn's latest film, The Break-Up, takes the classic romantic comedy set-up and twists it on its head.

The title pretty much sums up the film's plot. The Break-Up zooms through the "boy meets girl" part to focus more on the stress, strain, and general uncomfortableness associated with the end of a relationship.

The Inspiration for The Break-Up

"Whenever I got scripts for romantic comedies, they always had some kind of bizarre subplot to them that really didn't have anything to do with relationships. Like, 'If you don't marry the girl, you will not inherit the family fortune and the mean guy who works for me will take over the company.' Or, 'I have to write an article for the paper...Oops, I really did fall in love with the girl, what do I do?' And I always just felt relationships were kind of odd enough as they are.

"It's an idea I had 10 years ago. I love the movie The Odd Couple, and I always liked that movie, and as I got older I realized a lot of people were sort of buying places together because they didn't want to just spend money on rent. They wanted to have ownership and get much more kind of savvy with making their money work for them. I had some friends who ended up in that position, where they no longer wanted to date the other person and were not married, but no one could afford the place on their own, so it seems kind of modern in that.

"And then it wasn't so much based in particularly any sort of one relationship I had, but there's elements of relationships that I had. I thought that there was stuff that was very universal about not remembering to bring home 12 lemons and having the argument be about the lemons, but really the argument being about so much more than the lemons, but that just sort of being the vehicle to discuss stuff."

Going Against the Grain

Vaughn's now starred in a couple of against-the-norm comedies that have done well. So why don't more people copy his formula for success and attempt something a little different? Vaughn answered:

"I don't know. I think there's room for everything. It's just my sensibilities, sort of starting with Swingers. I like stuff that's kind of character-driven, exaggerated for comedy. Like the scene in Swingers where he calls five times and leaves that message. It's funny, but it's also really painful. And I liked in this movie, that you sort of look at the male-female drama and laugh at it, and then you kind of have a more serious complicated side that's more truthful in it.

"You can only, sort of, for me, do stuff that you're interested in or that you find to be kind of fascinating or interesting. You certainly don't—like with Wedding Crashers or this—approach it saying, 'I want to be different just for being different.' You just try to put original thought into it and say, 'What's simple and truthful for this story even if it's not traditional?' So I don't really go into any of them going, 'What's a way to do this totally different?' I more go into it saying, 'What's an original way of doing it,' if that makes sense?"

Casting Jennifer Aniston and the Chemistry Onscreen

"You know, when we were developing the screenplay, she was the only actor that I had in mind because she's so good with comedy. She's also a very good actor and she also has a quality to her that just inherently she's very likeable. There's a warmth to Jennifer. These characters are both very flawed, so it's important to have that.

"When we started the rehearsal process, right away I really was impressed with her acting, her timing, with all of that. Unfortunately a lot of time it's like women are stuck in movies just sort of rolling their eyes at whatever the guy does. One thing that I really liked and that me and David [Dobkin] really insisted on in Wedding Crashers, is Isla [Fisher's] really funny in that movie, too. It's really both of us, and the scenes become funny. I like the comedy to come out of the situation, be grounded in reality, so Jennifer is really the heart of the movie like Owen is the heart of the movie in Crashers. [She can be a straight man, as it would be, in this movie, and then also able to be comedic if it calls for it, but never lose that sense of being real and being a real person taking this journey. The whole movie would falter, so she was really instrumental. And yes, I did like her right off the back as a person as well. I think she's terrific."

Telling a Universal Story with The Break-Up

"The one thing I've learned is, wherever you're from, if it's a place in America or it's someplace different, as much as things are different, they're really the same. And not just in relationships. People want to take care of their families. There's very much very universal truths about people from whatever background that they're from and the more different they seem, really the more close they are. And that was one thing that we learned from Swingers. We had a lot of pressure when we ended up making the movie for nothing, but people said, 'People will never respond to this musical backdrop. The kids aren't into it. There's much more of a grunge music. This way talking, people don't understand it.' But my thought and Favreau's thought, was always, 'The more specific you are, the more universal you are.'

"For me, accents and ways that people talk or perhaps their job occupations—the Midwest is not as much of a fashion-oriented place. People are not in the fashion industry as much as they are in Los Angeles or New York, but I think the dynamics are very similar. I think that's really universal. So for me, I really wanted Gary to be kind of a tour guide, a blue-collar guy, from that kind of background, and Brooke to be someone who was kind of open and interested in the art world. But not from a place of financial success, just because she sort of liked it, not like it was something that she didn't love but she was just doing to be successful.

"But yeah, I'd always loved Chicago and I guess you write with what you know. I grew up outside of the city so I felt very comfortable telling a story that was authentic to that place, similar to what we did in Swingers with Los Feliz and what Jon did New York in Made. It was a place I hadn't gone. I wanted to go make a film there. Selfishly, I wanted to be there in the summertime as well. I always thought it was a great backdrop for these two characters and the story that would be kind of universal. Although it's specific to Chicago, I think it's relatable wherever you're from."

Vince Vaughn the Person Compared to His Character

Asked if he's anything like this character or would he pitch in and help do the dishes or go to the ballet (something his character loathes), Vaughn said, "I think we all have different sides of ourselves and definitely there are sides of myself in Gary, especially younger. It's exaggerated, again, for comedy. But yeah, I don't like to do dishes, no, not normally. I do do the dishes and I do contribute, but as I've gotten older, you're open and you kind of enjoy it more. But when you're younger, you don't really like it that much. Also, I do kind of like to watch sporting events and stuff like that.

"I think that there is kind of a dynamic with men and women where guys are kind of less concerned with what color the curtains will be. They just want to sign off and have the conversation stop and girls are kind of like, 'It's kind of an important decision and everyone should sort of weigh in on it.' That's sort of where the comedy comes from.

"But I have two older sisters. I've always gotten along really well with women. I love women. And so I've always in relationships not been as extreme as how Gary is. I really enjoy kind of the friendship part of the relationship as well. But I think there are just innate things that are truthful that when it comes to certain conversations or focus, and stuff that men and women have to learn how to kind of give the other person their space with stuff."

The Key to Relationships

Vaughn offered his opinion on what makes for a successful relationship. "I think friendship is the biggest thing and, for me, a sense of humor. I like someone that can make me laugh, because I like to laugh at stuff, especially myself. I think you have to be able to roll with life. Life is always peaks and valleys. There's gonna be good times and bad times and when all the other things are there, the biggest thing for me is having someone that makes you laugh and that you have a friendship and a trust with, ultimately, in a relationship. When you're younger, you kind of have your priorities in a different place. But as you get older, I think that becomes most important to you."

Filming the Last Scene

Vaughn addressed the rumored reshoots of the final scene: "When we did the movie Swingers, we didn't know what the last scene of the movie was until we started shooting. We always knew there would be a last scene, which ended up being me in the diner with Mike and the baby. We shot the entire movie Made and we waited to know what is that last scene. Whenever you're summing up movies like these character-driven movies that are more about a journey and moments and learning and not so much about a final answer, it always is a question to be raised.

"The ending that we ended up shooting is exactly like the ending we shot originally, just a better version of it. We realized what the journey was and how these characters were changed by their action and not so much about, 'Will they or won't they?' and more so about, 'If they do, it would probably go very well, because they definitely, you can tell, in a real way learned their lessons.'

"Gary goes and does his stuff with his family separate of her, because he's forever changed. She makes a decision, even there when she's on the phone, she has a meeting, she doesn't say, 'Hey, let's get something to eat.' She says, 'I gotta go to a meeting.' She has her life coming first, so I think it's hopeful that way. And if they don't, there's still a great love and thankfulness there for each other and lessons learned and their next relationship would be a healthier better relationship. So, on that particular one, as we had our one ending in place, we went and reshot—well, not reshot, but shot—versions.

"We did a couple different things. There were different people weighing in. I have to say that Universal was extremely supportive. This is not your traditional type of romantic comedy. There's a lot of fear on their end, a studio's end, when you're doing something different. There's a reason why Swingers was made for what it was made and those kind of movies, but they were very supportive and open to this. My way of working, even in Swingers when I wasn't credited, I was very collaborative in the writing and decision making. All of us were, it's just the way that I like to work, knowing that you always can go for what is the best. But it's very fair to take ideas and let everyone take the journey.

"What came clear to them and all of us very well was it wasn't about that—satisfying that or not satisfying that—it was that the original intention of the screenplay was the right intention for what this movie was, and it worked out really perfect. Forget all the things about whether they went back and shot or didn't shoot, which happens on most movies, just about every movie I've done. It made more sense and it worked for the character in that, as time has passed, Gary takes better care of himself. He's got his boat. He's a different person. He's shopping—it shows change without dialogue and exposition. He's self-deprecating about the weight that he's in, so he's a different person, has a sense of humor about stuff. So for the pure story, it's the perfect thing.

"Again, when you do a movie like Swingers or like Made you're not under the microscope as much and on those movies it was always our journey. You have to go through process, for me anyway, of editing such a tonally different movie, tones that are different...What is the satisfying answer? When I say 'satisfying', what is the only answer? And to me, ultimately, this became the only truthful, simple real answer that could be made."

Because the scene was shot after time had passed, Vaughn's weight loss is very noticeable. "Where the weight is concerned, there's nothing that's that complimentary to me," said Vaughn. "I was such a genius that I quit smoking before we started shooting the movie, something I wanted to do for a long time. I had quit smoking for eight months and just in time to put on 25 pounds for the romantic comedy. And then, when I finished shooting and we wrapped the movie, I said to myself, 'Well, I can have just one cigarette. I mean, it's been eight months, what's the big deal?' And then again I was up to a pack a day, so I lost the weight then after, because when you quit smoking, you tend to eat a lot and then when you start smoking it kind of curbs your appetite, so there was no great character choice in that. It just sort of worked out well for everything."