Why Hollywood won't cast Vince Vaughn anymore

He was once one of the funniest men in Hollywood, but these days, Vince Vaughn struggles to find laughs on the big screen. What got the star of Swingers and Wedding Crashers stuck in his current career rut?

His last few movies have flopped

Vaughn's recent lack of desirability in Hollywood may have to do with the fact that his last few movies have, you know, kind of tanked. Take his most recent wide release, for example: opening to dismal reviews, Unfinished Business—about three coworkers who embark on a European business trip gone terribly wrong—made headlines for its shockingly low box-office returns. According to Box Office Mojo, the film grossed just $4.77 million in its opening weekend to become the worst-performing major release of Vaughn's career. The fact that it finished its theatrical run with about $10.2 million against a $35 million budget only made things look worse.

Unfinished Business was Vaughn's second consecutive major flop, arriving on the heels of the poorly received comedy Delivery Man, which grossed just $7.9 million over its opening weekend on its way to a $30.6 million total haul.

He's kind of a one-note actor

The Onion had everyone laughing in 2013 when it declared that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson's new movie The Internship was "poised to be the biggest comedy of 2005." The joke, of course, was in a lot of ways very true. Even from the trailer, The Internship—about two grown men who get an internship at Google (seriously, what year is it?)—looked like a lazy attempt to cash in on the success of Wedding Crashers 10 years too late.

What The Internship ultimately did was expose Vaughn's limits as an actor. Sure, the guy can be very, very funny on screen, as we've seen in movies like Swingers, Dodgeball and the aforementioned Wedding Crashers. But in all of those cases, Vaughn was supported by material that was equally hilarious. When the scripts are subpar, as we've seen in The Dilemma and The Watch, he can come across like he's playing a shadow of his former characters—or worse, a version of himself. Some performers can triumph over a weak screenplay, but that isn't one of Vaughn's gifts. It's similar to the problem that has plagued Adam Sandler's career as he's gotten older—which makes us hope Vaughn never lands a four-picture deal with Netflix.

Which was exposed on True Detective

The fact that Vince Vaughn agreed to star in HBO's once-critically acclaimed miniseries True Detective suggests he may actually be aware that his career is in a rut. Certainly, the allure of the show is easy to understand; after all, its critically acclaimed first season was a major highlight of Matthew McConaughey's career renaissance in 2013. If it worked for McConaughey, once the star of really, really bad romantic comedies, who's to say it wouldn't work for Vaughn?

Of course, as we all know by now, True Detective season 2 suffered by comparison to its predecessor. A lot of it had to do with a storyline that was equal parts dull and ridiculous, but, much as we hate to admit it, Vaughn's presence didn't make things any easier. Whether he was threatening characters or reciting one of the series' notorious monologues, he looked out of place and out of his depth. To be fair, we appreciated his effort; for a brief moment, it was nice to see him star in something other than a mediocre comedy. But by the end of the season, it mainly served to remind us that Vaughn is only fun to watch when the laughs are intentional.

For awhile, Hollywood couldn't figure out how to cast him

For years after Wedding Crashers, Vaughn struggled to find his footing in Hollywood, often choosing roles that, for him, felt very out of place. Part of this transition involved making an awkward run at becoming a romantic leading man. We saw this first in 2006's The Break-Up, opposite Jennifer Aniston, whom Vaughn briefly dated after her high-profile split from Brad Pitt. While the two may have had chemistry offscreen, Vaughn and Aniston never quite clicked in the movie. In fact, the main reason many filmgoers were even interested was that it was called The Break-Up, and Aniston was going through one in real life.

Two years later, Vaughn started opposite another super-famous leading lady—this time, Reese Witherspoon—in Four Christmases. Once again, Vaughn's style of humor didn't match the cutesy, slapstick nature of the movie; he was certainly a far cry from, say, Jack Lemmon in The Out-of-Towners. By this point, fans were longing to see him in the kind of dude-friendly movies that made him so popular, even if that meant sitting through something like Fred Claus. The fact that he chose to follow Four Christmases with the mediocre Couples Retreat only made things worse.

Couples Retreat

Speaking of the film that Josh Larsen unflatteringly described as "a Tyler Perry movie for white folks," Couples Retreat only garnered a dismal 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie came four years after Wedding Crashers, but Vaughn still had such audience faith from that comedy juggernaut that the expectations for Couples Retreat were high. It had a big cast and a broad concept—four couples try to reinvigorate their relationships with a luxury trip—but still, it failed to deliver.

Fan The Fire described the ensemble comedy as "a lazy, unimaginative comedy that with the talent on show, should have been a whole lot more than another boring rom-com for the pile." Collider even zeroed in on Vaughn's performance, claiming he "gets to do his shtick" and "you'll love his performance provided you've never seen Vince Vaughn in a comedy before." Ouch.

Those kinds of critical slams, despite the film's miraculous profitability, had to contribute to Vaughn's later comments in which he eschewed the stalled rom-com portion of his career.

He got tired of the Hollywood 'machine'

In a rather candid 2015 interview with British GQ, Vaughn revealed that part of the reason behind his string of duds was the result of a shake-up in his management team. His new collaborators presented him with a formula approach that left Vaughn feeling like he'd lost a certain creative edge. "Making a film became like stock analysis. It was bulls**t," he said.

It was this disillusionment combined with the desire to "kill off" the kind of character he'd been playing in what he called "assembly-line comedies" ever since Wedding Crashers that led Vaughn to pivot back to drama in True Detective. "I'm not blaming anyone else but myself here," Vaughn told GQ, adding, "The machine can make you idle. You read a script and then you agree to a role, then soon enough you're on set looking at a scene that has had all the juice and the life sucked right out of it. You become a hired gun doing a very inoffensive PG-13 movie and, well, you kind of just go along with it. Like anything in life you're either growing or you're dying. When you get too comfortable you start to decline." Unfortunately for Vaughn, his growing pains as an artist have been shared by audiences who haven't been quite so creatively fulfilled by his darker material of late.

He pivoted to production

In 2005, Vince Vaughn founded his production company, Wild West Picture Show Productions, which became the driving engine behind The Break-Up, Four Christmases, Couples Retreat, The Dilemma, and The Internship. Though each of those titles had their issues with critics, they all made money with the exception of The Dilemma, which possibly broke even. What that means for Vaughn is that even though he may not be particularly proud of that section of his career, he got to walk away from it with cash—specifically back-end cash, which is where the whole game changes.

It's also probably a big part of the reason why Vaughn was able to slow down and reinvent himself by not having to pump out questionable product just to pay the bills. This kind of forward thinking has seemingly led the production company, now operating as just Wild West Productions, into the new media space.

In July 2017, Netflix renewed F Is For Family, the animated series created by stand-up comedian Bill Burr, which also happens to be produced by Wild West Television. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wild West also produces two shows, Fear(less) with Tim Ferriss and Undeniable With Joe Buck, for Audience Network, which is DirecTV's foray into the world of streaming digital content. Vaughn's company and Audience are also teaming up for a 2018 documentary that details "the relationship between the African-American community and the police."

Clearly, Vaughn's got his finger on the pulse of where the industry is headed, as well as an eye for jumping on self-marketing, hot-button social topics. So has the game left Vince Vaughn behind, or has he just been two steps ahead of it this whole time?

His polarizing political views

A quick listen to almost any star's awards show acceptance speech will let you know which way the political winds tend to blow in Hollywood, but for Vince Vaughn, he's clearly not a member of that status quo. According to The Telegraph, Vaughn let his conservative flag fly as early as 2004, when he attended a young Republicans conference in Washington D.C. From there, he started outwardly supporting fringe conservative political figures like Congressmen Ron Paul and right-wing pundit Glenn Beck.

But perhaps the largest gap that exists between Hollywood politics and his own is Vaughn's stance on gun control. A staunch 2nd Amendment supporter, Vaughn made waves after his 2015 British GQ interview during which he seemingly advocated for more guns in schools. Citing the errant claim that mass shootings have "only happened in places that don't allow guns," Vaughn said, "In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds." When asked if he thought guns should be allowed in schools, Vaughn replied, "Of course."

Granted, we're long past the days of the Hollywood blacklist, and celebrities are obviously free to hold whatever political beliefs they choose. But as of this writing, Vaughn is also in the midst of yet another collaboration with Mel Gibson, who is also likely still a polarizing figure to some industry leaders. Opposing political views are one thing, but helping to shoulder the career resurgence of Mel Gibson may prove to be a bridge too far for Vaughn.

He's getting older

What's the one problem when your career is defined by macho roles in frat-boy movies like Swingers, Old School and Wedding Crashers? Eventually, you get too old to play those parts. At age 47, Vaughn has definitely, officially entered that territory. In fact, the only time he should be on a college campus is to take one of his kids on a tour.

These days, Vaughn is at a crossroads in Hollywood. No longer able to play the roles that made him famous, he must now find a new path if he wants to keep acting. Since mediocre comedies like The Internship haven't worked, and full-on dramas like True Detective haven't either, he may want to find a director who can mix both genres rather well. It's also worth noting that Vaughn's early filmography really only tapped the surface of what he can do as a performer—as he proved in his 2017 action outing Brawl in Cell Block 99, a well-reviewed indie effort that reinvented him as a towering slab of beefy vengeance.

He's a family man

If you thought Vaughn in real life was anything like the fratty characters he played on screen, think again. He's actually been married since 2010 to Canadian realtor Kyla Weber. The couple also have two children together: a daughter named Locklyn and a son named Vernon.

With that in mind, it's possible that the new dad may have slowed his pace in order to focus on being a husband and father. He's been in the business for over 30 years; odds are, he's probably tired of the grind. Plus, with a reported net worth of $50 million, it's not like he has to run out and provide for his family. And who knows? Perhaps fatherhood will inspire a new career direction for Vaughn. The right Pixar project might be all it takes for a family-friendly version of Vince Vaughn to mount the brilliant comeback we're all waiting for.