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Vince Vaughn, Getting Yucks from Yammering On


Tall, dark and chatty is the character Vince Vaughn portrays in his new movie, The Breakup. But it also describes the comedic persona that Mr. Vaughn has cultivated throughout most of his increasingly successful career. While less may be more for some actors, for Vince Vaughn more is more, and the more he talks, the more you like him. That is, until you have to date him.

(Soundbite of movie "The Breakup")

Ms. JENNIFER ANNISTON (Actress): (As Character) You got three lemons.

Mr. VINCE VAUGHN (Actor): (As Character) What my baby wants, my baby gets. You know that.

Ms. ANNISTON: (As Character) Yeah, but I wanted 12, baby wanted 12.

Mr. VAUGHN: (As Character) Why would you want 12 lemons?

Ms. ANNISTON: (As Character) Because I'm making a 12-lemon centerpiece.

Mr. VAUGHN: (As Character) So no one's actually even eating them. They're just - they're show lemons?

Ms. ANNISTON: (As Character) Yeah, I cannot fill a vase with only three lemons.

Mr. VAUGHN: (As Character) Well, can't you just use like maybe a drinking glass?

Ms. ANNISTON: (As Character) I'm not going to use a drinking -

Mr. VAUGHN: (As Character) Where you can have a smaller version of a centerpiece.

Ms. ANNISTON: (As Character) I'm not going to use a drinking glass for our centerpiece.

Mr. VAUGHN: (As Character) You know what, I've got an idea. Why don't we go ahead and scratch the centerpiece idea all together, because the chicken that burnt my mouth could maybe use a little bit of lemon on top of it.

NEARY: That's Jennifer Anniston as the woman who's had enough. Elvis Mitchell is our tall, dark and chatty entertainment commentator, and he joins us now from New York. Hi, Elvis.


Thanks, Lynn. It's almost a compliment, thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: Elvis, Vince Vaughn produced The Breakup and he has a story credit, but does everybody end up sounding like him in this movie?

MITCHELL: No, it's actually one of these things where he does most of the talking because he did produce it. He did come up with the idea for the movie, which is kind of a fun spin on the tired romantic comedies. Instead, he wanted to make a movie about what happens when those movies end and these two people have to live together and they can't quite make it happen. He relies on that charm, that chattiness, that aggressiveness of his to make the movie work.

NEARY: Well, he's not the first actor to sort of take on this Chatty Cathy persona. There have been others, but usually they're the sidekick, like Henry Fonda, for instance, outtalked Jimmy Stewart in The Cheyenne Social Club, or more recently, Mos Def, who played opposite Bruce Willis in 16 Blocks. How does Vince Vaughn make himself sound like a leading man?

MITCHELL: I'm so impressed that you can go from Henry in The Cheyenne Social Club to 16 Blocks. I'm completely speechless now.

But Vince Vaughn did that as kind of a sidekick too, but he uses that kind of interesting aggressiveness of his. He sort of pretends that he's interested in hearing other people talk, but what he's really interested in is hearing other people react to him and that selfishness of his plays really well, it worked really well for him the first time we saw him in the movie, in the movie Swingers, where it's basically about a guy who looks kind of like a used car salesman, but knows he's sleazy, so half the fun is that he's reveling in his own kind of sleaziness.

NEARY: Let's hear some of Vince Vaughn in Swingers. And here he is providing a never-ending stream of questionable advice to his lovelorn friend played by Jon Favreau.

(Soundbite of movie "Swingers")

Mr. VINCE VAUGHN (Actor): (As Character) It's just that I'm not attracted to them. I keep thinking of my girlfriend and then I'm trying to like maintain a conversation with them. Oh, Mike, do you even think I know what the hell they're saying to me half the time? I don't know if they're talking about how hard it is to be a doctor or how their dad can't show them affection. All I do, man, is stare at their mouth and wrinkle my eyebrows and somehow I turn out to be a big sweetie, okay?

NEARY: That was Vince Vaughn in Swingers, where you first really saw him as this kind of sleazy, chatty guy.

MITCHELL: Yeah, there's something slightly repellant about him, although what's fascinating is that he basically knows that he's shallow and he kind of rests on that, the allure of exposing some small amount of self-knowledge, to be kind of attractive and interesting to women. Somebody who has that kind of gift for talk is great in a comedy because it's kind of lacking in comedies. When they try to do serious things, he's really not expressive enough an actor to make more serious parts work.

NEARY: Yeah, and he really kind of perfected the role in last year's Wedding Crashers. Let's hear some of that tape.

(Soundbite of movie "Wedding Crashers")

Mr. VINCE VAUGHN: (As Character) Janice, I apologize to you if I don't seem real eager to jump into a forced, awkward, intimate situation that people like to call dating. I don't like the feeling. You're sitting there, you're wondering, do I have food on my face, am I eating, am I talking too much, are they talking enough, am I interested, I'm not really interested, should I play like I'm interested, but not that interested, but I think she might be interested, but do I want to be interested, but now she's not interested? So now all of a sudden I'm getting, I'm starting to get interested?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MITCHELL: He speaks in run-on sentences and he's so pleased with the fact that he can come up with this stuff that quickly. There's a real sort of Southerness. Billy Bob Thornton, when you see Billy Bob Thornton improvising in the movie Tombstone, where he's just being a real brat and berating everybody, you're just impressed by it. You can tell from the rhythm of the speech in the same way you can with Vince Vaughn that it's not written for him. And there's another actor who Vince Vaughn's steady stream of patter really reminds me of, and that's the young Bill Murray working on Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters. The first time in fact that Bill Murray played a kind of a romantic lead in some respects and what these guys both have in common is complete lack of earnestness and sentimentality that you expect in romantic leads.

NEARY: Okay, let's see if we can get a clip from that.

(Soundbite of movie "Ghostbusters")

Mr. BILL MURRAY (Actor): (As Character) That's right boys, it's Dr. Venkman.

Ms. SIGOURNEY WEAVER (Actress): (As Character) What is that thing you're doing?

Mr. MURRAY: (As Character) It's technical. It's one of our little toys.

Ms. WEAVER: (As Character) That's the bedroom, but nothing ever happened in there.

Mr. MURRAY: (As Character) What a crime.

Ms. WEAVER: (As Character) You know, you don't act like a scientist.

Mr. MURRAY: (As Character) They're usually pretty stiff.

Ms. WEAVER: (As Character) You're more like a game show host.

NEARY: Vince Vaughn and Bill Murray, what a revelation. So do you see him doing Lost in Translation somewhere in the future?

MITCHELL: A part of what makes Lost in Translation work too is by that time Bill Murray's able to sort of play on the idea of a movie star who moved a little bit past his prime and didn't have anything in his future. And Vince Vaughn at this point has now discovered who Vince Vaughn is. These guys love the sounds of their own voices and as they're talking they've already projected to their future where they're like sneaking out of the girls' apartment the next morning so they don't have to have any more conversation with her.

NEARY: Well, Elvis, I love the sound of your voice and it was great having you with us today.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Lynn.

NEARY: Entertainment commentator Elvis Mitchell is also host of the Treatment on KCRW.

(Soundbite of movie "Wedding Crashers")

Mr. VAUGHN: (As Character) Pal, there's going to be over 200 single women at this wedding. Not to mention if you look here, they've got three live bands, they got oysters, snacks, phenomenal finger food.

Mr. OWEN WILSON (Actor): (As Character) I'm tired. Okay? My feet hurt. My voice is hoarse.

Mr. WAUGHN: (As Character) Please don't take a turn to Negative Town. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.