Q&A with Vince Vaughn
Vince Vaughn: Recently, for the first time, I decided that something I actively wanted was to be married and have kids. I always thought I would like to have kids someday, but it became a priority of mine just recently, and I met someone and I'm engaged now…
VV: Thank you. I met her through a close friend of mine's wife—my fiancé is her best friend—so it was a really nice way to meet someone. I started thinking, "What really makes a relationship work?" When you're younger, you feel like work is work and relationships are supposed to be easy. As you get older, you realize you have to work at relationships to make them sustainable. So my thoughts for this movie went to, "I've seen a lot of movies that are just about one relationship, but what about the dynamic of couples?" We all have our groups of friends. If you have a good girlfriend who's married or dating someone new, you really want the guys to get along. Then you end up with this new group and it's fun to do stuff together, whether it's a barbecue or going to a game or going away together for a weekend. You end up with a very specific dynamic, and it's always easy to see other couples' problems and what they could do to fix it. You never can see what's going on with yourself. That's always the way it is. So I said, "Let's take some relatable people—I set them in the suburbs of Chicago—who get to go to an exceptional location. Give them common problems, a familiar group dynamic, and send them to a place that's supposedly full of experts on couples." I always hear of these corporate retreats where they take people from a corporation for a weekend and they do, I don't know, trust falls or potato sack races, and I'm like, "Does that really help them sell more stuff?" It just sounds funny to me. So I thought, "What if there was a place where instead of a corporate retreat, it was a retreat for couples where they're doing all these crazy activities supposedly meant to bring them together?" Then we have the theme be, not unlike The Wizard of Oz, the answer isn't in some far off place or through some expert. The answer is really inside ourselves. It's about looking in the mirror and being honest about what we want in life and what our priorities are. Because once you're willing to ask for those things, the power is really inside you.
VV: For me, it was important to make sure that all the couples had an authentic journey and that there was a beginning, a middle and an end to all of them. There are four couples, but there are eight leads. There's no B story here. Pretty consistently in the things I've done, whether it be with [Jennifer] Aniston in The Break-Up or Isla Fisher in Wedding Crashers, it's a very equal relationship. Both people are talking, both are funny. What makes those movies funnier than most is that we see ourselves in those dynamics—like the "Why don't you want to do the dishes?" scene in The Break-Up. That's what makes us laugh. So the focus with this movie was on writing conversations that we've all had with our friends and hitting on themes that we can all relate to but still finding a funny perspective to do that with.
VV: The one thing I like that we say in the movie is that it's not like you're going to solve everything. You're not always going to learn to love doing the things you don't want to do. What I really like about the couple that I'm in with Malin Akerman is that they are seemingly succeeding at life. They are fortunate enough to have good jobs, and they're making their kids a priority and taking them to activities and everything. They don't think they have any problems, and then when they get to the retreat they realize, like a lot of couples that have kids or regular relationships with the obligations of life, they as a couple start to come in last. When they're talking, it's either disagreeing about how to parent or "What are the bills we have to pay this month?" They're not spending any time just being friends or laughing or enjoying each other. You start to see that person as a source of obligation. So what I would take from this movie is that it's important to make sure you do something fun with each other every now and then. Whatever that means to you, whether it be going outside and sitting on a blanket and having a glass of wine or going to a concert or a baseball game. Because before there were the kids or the house or the mortgage or any of it, there were these two people that really wanted to be around each other, so don't spend that time not having fun.
RB: Such a nice thing about the characters that you and Malin play is that they don't get tempted to stray. They are quite clear that they want to be loyal to each other. It's refreshing.
VV: Yeah, it was kind of nice to make a movie where it was like "We made a commitment. We're in this 'cause we said we wanted to be, and we have people counting on us. You know what? We believe in this and it's worth it to us, and I love you."
VV: It was an idea that I originally had, then Favreau did the first pass at it and then he went to the Iron Man 2 stuff and so Dana Fox, who's a great female screenwriter, she and I really took over the screenplay and finished it together.
RB: You and Jon have been in plenty of films together—both behind and in front of the camera—perhaps most notably Swingers and Made. Those are both big-time bachelor movies, so it seems you're moving into this next phase together. What was it like making that transition?
VV: Just as your priorities change as you get older, so do the subjects that have you interested. Swingers came out of Jon moving to California. We had become friends on Rudy, and I started taking him around to underground swing scenes and swing bands that I like. So he wrote an overexaggerated comedic movie based on him getting past a relationship. The story with Couples Retreat was the same thing. As I started thinking about going to the next place in my life with kids and marriage, it was just on my mind. I think our films really reflect what is going on in our lives.
VV: Well, you know, it's a comedy. So you'll say, "You're money, baby" 20 times in order to make it funny. It's not as if in regular conversation I'm saying that all the time. All of us have a lot of sides to ourselves, but the fun thing about being actor is you make one side predominant for the character you're playing. So the fun in this movie is that I get to be the more grounded guy who's on this journey, and then the fun in Wedding Crashers was that I got to be the crazy guy.
RB: So what's up next for you? Any big movies or projects we can look out for you in?
VV: I don't have any immediate plans. I'm hoping to take the rest of this year off. I'll be home in Chicago in November and look forward to having some downtime there until the end of the year. Then get out in January and February when the cold gets too much.
RB : And get married?
VV: Yes, and that too.