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Wednesday, March 3, 2004
10 Burning Questions: Vince Vaughn

By Miki Turner
Page 3 staff

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. -- When Vince Vaughn sat down for our interview on a Saturday morning, two things were immediately apparent: He's not exactly a morning dude, nor is he one to ask a lot of questions.

Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg
The Vince Vaughn and Snoop Dogg combo was a smart comedy move for "Starsky & Hutch."
It would have been nice if he asked this one pertinent question, "Will my smoking bother anyone?" Or, "Does the smoke I'm blowing in your face burn your eyes?"

No luck on that.

But the Chicago-raised actor -- whose breakthrough came with "Swingers," the 1996 comedy written by his buddy Jon Favreau -- was more than considerate when it came to talking about his new film, "Starsky & Hutch" (opens nationwide March 5). In it, he plays Reese Feldman, a creepy leisure suit-wearing crook with a curly perm who's trying to outsmart the film's stars Ben Stiller (Starsky) and Owen Wilson (Hutch).

It's Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), however, who takes him down in the end.

Vaughn, who will turn 34 on March 28, talked about his relationship with Stiller and Wilson, fashion in the '70s, his upcoming projects, his affinity for African-American sitcoms from the '70s, and his shortcomings as an athlete with Page 3.

1. What the heck is Vince Vaughn doing in "Starsky & Hutch"?

Vince Vaughn: (Director) Todd (Phillips) came to me and asked me. He said that he had a part for me as a villain, and I had fun working with him on "Old School" and so, I said, "Sure, I'll come and fool around for a little while."

2. Are you old enough to remember the original show?

I am. I was a kid when I saw it and we used to always play it in the playground. I was born in 1970, so I think that I was maybe around 4 or 5 when it was on. There would be one guy who'd say, "OK, I'm Starsky" and the other would be like, "OK, I'm Hutch," and you just run around, and you didn't really even understand the show that much. You thought that it was cool when Huggy came on like in the movie. And you thought that the Torino was (expletive) great.

3. Looking back at the old "Starksy & Hutch" show it was kind of campy. Do you think the film adequately captures that tone?

I haven't seen the show since then, and I didn't watch it in preparation of this because my character is a specific person coming in and I don't like to. ... I didn't see any value in it for me coming in and playing the part. But I think that it takes that and has some fun with the '70's. But like a lot of cop films, I think that there's a lightness to it and a fun thing where it's entertaining in a way and any sort of spoofing ... winking at the audience. I think it is just a sort of fun thing that (Phillips) brings to filmmaking. I think that "Old School" had that quality and not that it was a remake of something, but it's sort of that light fare.

4. You're playing a villain, but how mean and nasty could you get in a comedy spoof?

You know, the part was underwritten in the script somewhat. It's a type of comedy where the plot is really there to set up jokes, and it totally has to be entertaining so that you're following it scene to scene. But it's not really to the side of the dial where it's taken really heavy or very serious ever. But at the same time, from my experience, if you watch a comedy and the villain is totally ridiculous, then there's no tension whatsoever.

So, more so than to go for jokes or to be menacing, I just kept it in the realm of sort of reality and sometimes it would tweak a little bit heavier and sometimes, it'd tweak a little more comedic. That was the best way to service the film. I just tried to play it truthfully within the boundaries of it and let any sort of comedy or fear factor come from that.

5. You wear some really scary clothes in this film-- leisure suits, baby-blue suits. What kind of influence did you have on Reese Feldman's style?

Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau
"Swingers" Vaughn (left) and buddy Jon Favreau will always be so money, baby.
I always have a lot of input in the wardrobe because I think that it's always important in the film. Sometimes you see films and costumes and the actor doesn't seem like they're really wearing it. It might fit the period or the theme which is too cool in a way or whatever, but these wardrobe people were amazing. I don't just say that because I'm notorious for not always seeing eye-to-eye with wardrobe, but they were really very good and Todd had specific ideas.

I kind of went in one day and said, "I like him kind of dirty in a way, but think Miami." I said, "I want it to be kind of Miami-ish with the color schemes and stuff like that." It just seemed that Reese Feldman would try to be what he thought was impressive which is kind of, I think, gaudy or a little bit unsettling.

6. Looking back on the '70s when you were a kid, was there anything you did then in terms of fashion that you'd never do now?

Well, just a whole bunch of things. That's just life. I was never a big fashion person, and so I'm sure I wore whatever. I was growing, and so I just wore whatever clothes that weren't that expensive and made sense at the time. But I'm sure that I look back and say, "What was I thinking?" My adolescence was more in the '80s and that's more my cross to bear.

No pink leisure suits?

No. I have pictures that I wore a little astronaut thing that I loved that I got somewhere down in Florida, I think. I was with some relatives. I used to have a little cowboy outfit that I had and took pictures in. I lived in the suburbs, and I'd put the cowboy thing on. That was in the '70's. I was 10 by the time the '70s ended. I got out of there in that youthful age when I wasn't making my own decisions. So I was all right.

7. You and Snoop mix it up a bit. What were your scenes with him like?

I love Snoop. I worked with him on "Old School," and he's very accessible. He's very kind. He's always nice to everyone, to the crew. He's always got something positive to say. He's very childlike and loves to come and play. So, I had fun working with him.

8. One of the funniest scenes in the film is you and Snoop at the golf course. Are you at all athletic? Do you play golf?

No, no. I'm a horrible golfer. I had to meet a guy to do that. I've never played golf. I've never had the patience for it, and I had to meet a guy to learn how to kind of fake a stroke. But then, when I got there I forgot it. So, no, I'm not athletic. I played some sports and stuff in high school, and I was very average.

What did you play?

I played football. I wrestled. Those were team sports and I played for the school. When I was younger I played kick the can and stuff like that. I loved that. I didn't like it when they started yelling at you and started taking it real serious. They were like, "If you want it bad enough, run around the block," and I realized that I didn't want it bad enough to run around the block.

Is that when you got into acting?

I started kind of young because both of my parents worked, and so I would get put into different activities, which I loved. For me, that was very good as a kid. I think that partially what made me want to get into acting or even consider doing something outside of the lines was that most of my friends' moms didn't work, and I always respected my mom a lot, especially back then, for working and doing that kind of stuff. She was someone that if she wanted something she'd outwork everyone and create an opportunity for herself.

So, it was an activity that I was put in that I thought was fun and because of my experience with my mom, to a large degree, I thought that anything was possible. I saw her overcome stuff, and I thought if you worked hard at something you'd give yourself a chance.

Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis
Will the "Why the curly perm, Vince?" question be answered by the end of the movie?
9.Were you surprised by the success of "Old School" and is there a sequel in the works?

I don't know. We talked about it, but there hasn't been a script that I've seen for it. So, there's nothing currently going. I've got something that I'm shooting now. I think that Todd has something he's working on, and Will (Ferrell), I know, is doing some stuff. It's something that has been discussed but it's not immediate..

Can you talk about the magic that happens when you, Ferrell, Wilson, and Stiller get together?

I don't know. I'll say very comfortably that I really enjoy their work, and I'm fans of their work, and so it was never like a big game plan and really something that just is kind of happening in the last couple of years or so. But there was no master plan with it. I mean, "Wedding Crashers" was a situation where I worked with the director on a movie called "Clay Pigeons" and who directed Owen in "Shanghai Nights." He was interested in both of us, and I think that Owen came to me and him both, but there was never sort of a plan of, "OK, we're starting a kind of mafia."

Are there ever any ego problems?

No, I've never had that. Even with Ben; my first experience working with Ben was a short comic thing that we did for MTV spoofing James Cameron's "The Titanic" and "The Titanic II." He's funny and smart. He's got good taste and loves to play around, and I enjoy that. And ever since then me and Ben have always danced around with doing stuff in "Starsky" and then, "Dodgeball" (summer release). It just happened very quickly with each other.

10. You talked about playing Starsky & Hutch as a kid. Is there another '70s show you'd like to be in if it got made into a movie?

"Mary Hartman" (Laughs). No. No, a lot of the shows I watched were like "What's Happening" ... I watched that a bunch as a kid. And I watched "Good Times" a lot and I watched "Sanford and Son." That was one of my favorite shows. I loved Redd Foxx. He was probably my favorite to watch. I watched "Happy Days." I was big into "Laverne and Shirley" at that time. It was real big and "Battle of the Network Stars" was always big.

Is there something that you'd like to do that you haven't done?

A whole bunch of stuff. After "Swingers," I was offered a bunch of comedies, but I didn't do them because I didn't want to just be doing comedies. So, I was fortunate enough to get a chance at a lot of different stuff like "Return To Paradise." "Clay Pigeons" was kind of comedic until I start cutting girls up. I played villains in like, "Domestic Disturbance" and some other things, and then when "Old School" came about, it was kind of a resurgence of me doing comedy, and I'm doing that now.

I'll probably go back and do some dramas after this "Wedding Crashers." I might do one more comedy and then I'd like to go and do some other smaller roles. I did an independent film that'll come out this year with a really talented young director Mike Mills called "The Thumbsucker." I play a debate coach at a high school. So, I've always liked the opportunity to try to do different stuff. You grow more, and you learn more, and it keeps you interested.

Miki Turner is a day and night laborer in L.A. She can be reached at