What Happens in Vegas: Tom Vaughan interview
We found Starter For Ten Brit director Tom Vaughan in fine form as he talked to us about his new film What Happens in Vegas starring Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz. Vaughn gave us the lowdown on hanging out at Ashton's house, his comedic inspirations and what it's like being an Englishman in New York…
LF: What was it like meeting Ashton and Cameron for the first time?
TV: I was sent off to Ashton's house to meet him and Cameron Diaz; as you do! You tootle on up to Beverly Hills and nip round to Ashton's house. That was wild! They were very very nice and pleasant, but you know for me it was slightly intimidating and very exciting all at one time. You go round to his house and he's terribly nice and Demi Moore is just walking out the door and then Cameron Diaz walks in!
We drank cups of tea, Cameron sat on the floor and we all just had a little chat. So really it was a case of chemistry, which is so important to the movie; their chemistry and my chemistry with them. We all needed to know that we shared a sense of humour; if we didn't do that then how are we gonna do a comedy together? We had fun and a little while later the studio said, 'great - OK!'
LF: It sounds like quite a quick turnaround from pre-production to the wrap?
TV: Yeah it happened quickly. I didn't start on this movie until last June. So it's been less than a year from the very, very beginning to the global release. We're gonna have it out there even before we've barely finished it which is great. When movies hang around for a long time it might get stale or something.
LF: What do you think it is about Ashton and Cameron that works so well?
TV: I think that they as people have a lot of similarities. They are both very attractive and very funny. Which is a really unique combination. Honestly, there are not that many people out there who can do what they do. So the idea of putting them together; it felt like they were really evenly matched.
When you sit in a room with them they spar off each other. It's very natural and they are a match for each other. It's not like one goes quiet while the other one takes over; it's like they have a dialogue but it's two handed. . To be honest the minute I heard they were gonna be in it; I thought oh that's a great idea, why has no one done that before? In the olden days in Hollywood these guys would have already made five movies [together].
LF: What was Ashton like on set; he's been known to be a bit of a joker?
TV: He didn't do that joking thing; he didn't do punked on any of us I'm glad to say. But you know it was fun. I mean making a movie is never easy as the sheer physicality of it is always tiring, but they were good fun. They were professional but there was laughs and jokes. We had a lot of comics in the movie; Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis and Rob Corddry. That kind of group were tapping into a world of very funny performers who make jokes and ad lib and add things and surprise you.
LF: How did you find shooting in Las Vegas and New York?
TV: It was such fun. I was very determined to try and get New York into the movie. I guess as a tourist, I liked the sites of New York and I wanted people around the world to see nice images of New York as it adds character. There's also something about the New York attitude that collides with the whole Vegas thing. In American terms you got two of the most famous cities in America - visually. People know images of Vegas and of New York City and it felt like a great opportunity to play with those.
LF: What was it like shooting on location in Vegas, especially with such big stars as Ashton and Cameron?
TV: We had already had weeks and weeks shooting in New York where the minute they stepped onto the sidewalk it was just paparazzi and crowds; that was a new experience for me for sure. In Vegas, absolutely, I mean they'd go anywhere in Vegas and they'd get mobbed. Obviously you are very close to the public because we were in the casinos and everyone's on their vacations so you walk through the casinos with them.
LF: How is it working as an English director in Hollywood? You had a great start with Starter for Ten with the support you received from Tom Hanks.
TV: Yeah I mean we edited and finished up the post-production for Starter for Ten in LA and Tom Hanks' company were incredibly supportive. They are really at the heart of Hollywood, so I had a front row seat to the whole thing. I was like, 'oh right, I see how this all works'. This was a big studio film, so it was my first real experience of working with a movie studio.
It was a different level of pressure. You are making something that has got to make it all over the world. At the beginning of production they make the director sign this piece of paper and at the bottom it says I dunno, '51 million blah blah dollars'. You sort of look at it and go, 'what's this?' And they go, 'it means nothing Tom but we want you to sign it'. So it means nothing but you want me to sign it!? Ok ! It's just a kind of statement of intent. We were giving you 51 million dollars and you are gonna give us a fun movie. That's the deal and they send you out there.
Obviously it's different, I mean if you're into movies and it's what you wanted to do all your life is pretty exciting; I mean it really is. There's just so much activity, there are so many more scripts and projects to talk about and to choose from. Then when you get to do them hopefully they've got the budgets and they've got the distribution. That is much tougher when you're outside the Hollywood system. So on one level I just wanted to have this experience and find out what it was like; can I make a hit Hollywood movie? Before I turn my back on Hollywood and go and make art movies? Am I capable? Can I prove it to myself? Ok I'm gonna see before I dismiss it - I loved it.
LF: So what's up for you next?
TV: I don't know, there are a couple of things that actually predated this one. There's a Harrison Ford drama from the producers of Erin Brockovich; a real life story, which would be nice. And there's another project through Adam Sandler's company.
We'll see what happens; even this movie, which was green lit, and had movie stars wasn't officially green lit until virtually the day we started shooting. I mean these things are never happening until you are actually there doing it.
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