What does Vince Vaughn mean to you? The once loveable rogue who found fame with Jon Favreau in 1996 comedy caper Swingers divides opinion. Never more so than on the announcement this week of his casting in the second season of Nic Pizzolatto’s award-winning HBO series True Detective. A quick glance on Twitter reveals dumbfounded surprise: “Who’s next? Owen Wilson?”
He may have worn out his welcome in a series of cookie cutter comedies with his sarcastic wannabe wise guy schtick but a decade back it was game changing stuff to see rom-com romps go R-rated with the likes of Wedding Crashers.
It’s also worth remembering that before Matthew McConaughey’s renaissance, capped by an Oscar win for Dallas Buyer’s Club, he’d been wasting his talent in rom-coms like Failure to Launch and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. And Woody Harrelson spent years behind the bar in Cheers before more challenging roles like playing real life porn baron Larry Flynt opposite Courtney Love in The People vs Larry Flynt changed his career’s path. So Pizzolatto must have seen something in Vaughn he thinks will work perfectly in his show. Given the brilliance with which the writer crafted that suspenseful first season and re-invented our perceptions of his leads I’m backing Vaughn to shine and prove the doubters wrong.
OK, so the laugh free Google sanctioned ‘comedy’ The Internship represented a career nadir for Vaughn but hey, the only way is up right? TV isn’t the backwards career step it once was. In fact it’s where actors go to spread their wings and get under the skin of a character looking for that career-defining Tony Soprano role. In True Detective season 2 Colin Farrell will play the part of a cop leading a murder investigation which Vaughn’s character gets caught up in. So maybe the role of career criminal Frank Semyon who is trying to go straight, described as the show’s ‘central antagonist’, is the perfect opportunity for the Anchorman alumnus to remind us of a natural charisma which, if kept on a leash, could be the perfect foil for the trio of cops he becomes entangled with. The man can reign it in. Check out the dramatic skills he showcased in a supporting role with Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild.
In his next film Vaughn reunites with Favreau for the crime drama Term Life. Based on a graphic novel he plays a guy desperately trying to evade hit men so he can stay alive long enough for his insurance policy to kick in and pay out for his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Signs then that the choices are changing and he’s ready to branch out.
In an interview with The New York Times in 2008 Vaughn admitted his frustrations with being typecast: “I could keep trying to do the same kind of comedies. You know how it’s going to go, and you can get an audience with it, but then I feel like a hamster on a wheel.” True Detective is the perfect opportunity for Vaughn to stop chasing his tail and show us what he’s really made of.