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Vince Vaughn on Couples Retreat

Published October 13, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures
Vince Vaughn and his comedy cohorts have developed a style where they take realistic premises and banter them out to ridiculous extremes. It began with Swingers and really came into the mainstream with Old School and Wedding Crashers. After The Breakup, Fred Claus and Four Christmases, Vaughn explained how his style applies to his latest film, Couples Retreat.

Vince Vaughn on a Couples Retreat


“The job of an actor is to look like you’re not acting,” Vaughn said. “Sometimes I think people reward people who go to extreme emotions. I can look at it, and other actors can look at it, and go, ‘I can see the work in it,’ but people go, ‘That must be powerful because you’re crying.’ But, that would make everyone’s crazy aunt a great actor. So, I’ve always felt the real thing to do is make it effortless. Like any performer in music, on stage they look effortless, but there’s a lot of work that goes into looking effortless. The same thing for the dialogue with comedies. Comedies are much more difficult, especially when they’re story comedies, than drama. For example, if there’s a scene where a father says goodbye to his son because he’s going to go to work, you have to be simple with what sounds real and how that would really play out. In a comedy, you have to do it in that way, but also make people laugh. So, you have to be a little over-committed, but not so much so that they don’t believe or invest in these characters.”

In Couples Retreat, four pairs of married friends go to Bora Bora for a week of counseling. “I wanted to take that group and put them in an exceptional setting with the promise, in a Wizard of Oz way, of some expert or some kind of enlightened person taking them on a journey. It’s about looking in the mirror. You have the control over the choices that you make yourself, one way or the other, and you’re in charge of your life. And, it really was important for me to have a character like Favreau’s character and Kristin Davis’ character, for folks that felt like, ‘God, they’re just so far passed even trying.’ In life, sometimes when you go through hard things, like losing someone in your family, losing a job or getting a disease, it’s easy to focus on the problem and not where you want to go to. Sometimes when things are meant for our harm, God or life will use it to pay you back double, or use you in the future as a way to promote you. Sometimes people take their own power or faith away, in that moment.”


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With four plot lines going at once, Couples Retreat tested Vaughn’s sense of pacing more than his previous comedies. “The editing of the ending came out of necessity. If you saw all these scenes played out literally, as we wrote them, they were well-acted, simple, truthful scenes, but by the time we got to the third couple resolving their issues, you felt like you were drained. So, we had to find a way to make it a collage and connect it all.”

Vaughn keeps a hand as a producer on his films. He finds he works best when he’s pushing himself the hardest. “I think, for me, trying hard at things and failing has made me better at everything in life. I didn’t know anyone in Hollywood, so I felt like I had to out-work everybody and really try my best. If you can just keep moving forward and trying stuff, you don’t realize it, but roots get planted, like a tree. You go, ‘Boy, I don’t see a lot of growth in my work,’ or whatever it is in your life. You think, ‘Man, I thought I’d have more opportunities where this was concerned, or where that was concerned, and I really don’t.’ But, what’s happening is that you’re getting skills and strength and the roots are spreading, so that when the tree does grow, when you do get that opportunity, there’s a foundation that can support that growth. So, for myself, all the time I spent writing or acting, as I’ve been blessed enough to have some success, I’m better prepared for it because I spent a lot of time, when it didn’t go my way, working at it and learning about myself and learning about the different skills.”

Couples Retreat is out in theaters now.

For the trailer, stills, poster, review and more movie info, go to the Couples Retreat Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Universal Pictures
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