Most of us are used to wearing masks at this point. Just know that Vince Vaughn’s is cooler than yours.
For director Christopher Landon’s new horror comedy “Freaky” (now in theaters), Vaughn plays the physically imposing Blissfield Butcher and dons a slasher mask that’s “just skewing a little bit” the iconic looks of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. But Vaughn actually spends most of the body swap movie playing a teenage girl after the Butcher attacks high schooler Millie (Kathryn Newton) with an ancient magical dagger and gory, soul-switching high jinks ensue.
“It’s very funny, the kills are really well done, but there’s an emotional connectedness throughout,” says Vaughn, who grew up in Buffalo Grove and Lake Forest. “It is a tricky thing to balance those genres, that tone of having real scares that are really satisfying along with real laughs.”
“Freaky,” last week’s No. 1 film at the North American box office, also gives Vaughn a chance to return to the signature broad humor of his earlier well-known movies like “Old School” and “Wedding Crashers” after a slate of dramatic projects including “True Detective,” “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Brawl in Cell Block 99.”
Vaughn, 50, talks about “Freaky,” his return to comedy and what’s going on with a “Wedding Crashers” sequel.
Q: First off, how’s life been treating you during COVID-19?
A: It’s been as good as it could be. My kids are here, it’s been like “Little House on the Prairie” a little bit at home with the learning and stuff, but it’s been nice to be able to have the time with everybody. That part I’ve enjoyed.
Q: What was the best part of playing both Millie and the Butcher?
A: For Millie, you’re someone coming of age. You don’t have your self-confidence, you’re still learning who you are, you’re finding your voice. You’re sometimes taking other people’s problems on and not really being true to yourself because you don’t want to ruffle feathers. And then the Butcher is obviously just a person who is without any empathy, looking to harm people, looking to kill people. They’re two very different extremes.
Q: You pull off a teen girl pretty well. What’s your secret?
A: I have some nieces that are close to that age. You really put yourself in that position of building out your backstory, understanding what the character wants or is afraid of and connecting to those things.
There’s a humanity and an honestness where most people go through that very experience [of high school]. At the time it’s really painful. And funny as well, by the way, with some time. It feels like the world’s coming to an end and then you can laugh about it years later.
Q: With “Freaky,” did you feel the creative urge to get back to your comedy roots?
A: I’m not as dogmatic in so much as I like doing a variety of stuff. It’s fun to ride all the different rides in the amusement park. With “Brawl” and with this movie, you’re kind of going a little bit where your feet can’t touch. When you first read it on paper, it’s fun, but it’s like, “How do I get there?” I like feeling a little bit like it’s out of my safety zone and then having to do the work and preparation to get to a stage where you feel really good about it once you land on set.
Q: This year being the 15th anniversary of “Wedding Crashers,” there’s been talk of a sequel. Are you in?
A: I just met with Owen [Wilson] and David Dobkin last week, and there’s a script and an idea that we all quite like. So that’s actually something that you might see sooner than later. We’re sort of taking it more seriously. What I like is that there’s a fun idea that feels current. It makes sense as a continuation. And it’s the kind of thing where I’m glad we waited so you’re not retreading the same story. It feels like the right next chapter.
Q: Your movies worked because they always seemed to capture the zeitgeist. What do you feel has changed the most about comedy over the years?
A: When we were making movies like “Old School or “Wedding Crashers,” we were just trying to be honest to those characters and where they’re at, and the comedy coming from an overcommitment to the absurd, but it being grounded in something that’s relatable.
The right place to work from in exploring these things, in general, is that you don’t really have to invent anything. Human nature and how we grow up and how we transform and get over fears or learn to be comfortable with ourselves, you’re really just revealing what’s already there.
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