Vince Vaughn stars in the upcoming comedy-drama Delivery Man, a story of affable screw-up David Wozniak who discovers he’s fathered 533 children through anonymous donations he made to a fertility clinic over 20 years ago. When 142 of his children file a class action lawsuit to reveal his identity, David must decided whether or not to come forward.
Days before production wrapped last December, we stopped by the Delivery Man set, where we watched Vaughn shoot a heartfelt scene and got a chance to chat with some of the cast as well as the film’s director, Ken Scott.
Here’s what we learned on set:
1. This film has a lot of connections to Canada.
For one, it is a remake of Ken’s French-Canadian film called Starbuck, which saw domestic box office success when it hit theaters in 2011. Later, it caught attention in the American film festival circuit and, eventually, the eye of Steven Spielberg, who scooped up the remake rights. Now, the American version even stars How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders, a Vancouver native, as Vince’s on-screen girlfriend.
2. Brooklyn apartments in movies are not really in Brooklyn.
The movie’s main character, David, is supposed to live in Greenpoint, the northernmost neighborhood of the New York City borough. But the set for his man-child apartment — cluttered by skateboards, skis and skates, brimming with VHS tapes and CDs, and dotted with marijuana plants, which David grows to boost the bare-bones income he earns working for his father’s butcher shop — is situated in an ambiguous building squished between midtown Manhattan skyscrapers. Filming did take place in Brooklyn proper, though from Williamsburg to Windsor Terrace, as well as other locations across New York, including Staten Island and Bear Mountain in the Catskills.
3. Vince alludes to Benjamin Franklin off the cuff.
“I think Benjamin Franklin said, ‘House guests, like fish, start to smell after three days,'” he said, referencing a scene in which the son who has been living with him, Viggo, (Adam Chanler-Barrett), moves out.
4. All the actors who play David’s children are under drinking age.
“The kids are all between 18 and 20,” Ken said. “So, it’s very exciting for me as a director to be working with people like Vince Vaughn, but also be working with these young kids, some of them who are on set for the first time. And they bring their energy and they have their scenes. They are really excited to be there. We have all these kids that great to work with and that are very talented, and people will discover most of them.”
5. Vince needed a change from comedy.
Old School, Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers, Couples Retreat, The Dilemma, The Internship — Vaughn has racked up comedies on his resume over the past decade. But of recent, he was ready for a change of pace. “I do think you wake up at some point where you maybe… for me anyway… you’ve done a similar kind of film for a while or stuff that’s kind of in the same [vein],” he said. “You feel like, ‘I don’t have something fresh to do.’ I can’t say that I made an effort to try to do other stuff but I’m open to it…. I did start to feel like I was not as motivated to do the similar type of stuff that I had been doing.”
6. New York City was the perfect for this film.
“In a story of 533 kids all living in the same city, New York really felt like the best place to tell the story to make it as credible as possible,” Ken said. “They live in all these different neighborhoods, and New York has all these different neighborhoods. If you see a kid that’s living in Chelsea, rapidly you sort of get a feeling of what this kid is about. If he’s in the Bronx, it’s another thing. So, it’s rich visually, but it’s also very efficient in storytelling perspective.” Vince agreed. “One of the reasons I wanted to do the movie was if we shot it [in New York City], because I felt that this story really lends itself to a place that has a lot of different neighborhoods, a lot of different lifestyles, and [the city] certainly has that,” he explained. “Then of course just visually, the energy of the city is tremendous and it really infects the particulars of our family being from Greenpoint, culturally where we’re located, and then also David’s curiosity about the kids to travel to different places that he might not on a day-by-day basis go into.”
7. Modern-day improv may be misunderstood.
“When I did improv in Chicago, where Second City and all that came out of, where all those guys came out of before there was a Saturday Night Live, it was a real craft that was understood,” Vince said. “You were not just getting up and doing a scene and saying something crazy…. You were connecting concepts and telling a story with a beginning, a middle and an end…. To me, improv is really listening. It’s really being in your character and committed to being able to react to what’s happening. I love to say the lines and I don’t improvise as much as people think, but our style would be that if you have what’s scripted, sometimes it’s fun to see if there’s a different way, a fresh way, to get to the same thing. But some people think that improv is, ‘What’s the craziest thing I can say? What’s the most shocking thing I can say?’ But it has nothing to do with the story.” And in the director’s opinion, Vince is as good an improvisor you could ever imagine. “We did it a few times, and I was very impressed,” Ken said. “I was very, very, very impressed by what he can do just spontaneously.”
8. Almost all dialogue between Vince and John Favreau in The Break-Up was improvised.
“About 90%,” Vince recalled. For example, the bar scene in which Gary (Vince) and his best friend (John) discuss putting a hit out on his ex’s date. “The whole concept of him thinking that I was trying to have him put a hit out and he was winking but he knew that in the scene, I had to come at a different place of getting a message and he wasn’t tracking that,” Vince explained. “We did it many different ways. That just happened to be one of the ones that was funny. But the reason it works so well is that it also tells the story and it’s what the story wants to be at that time. If it was just him rambling about a concept that was interesting but it wasn’t advancing the story, then it wouldn’t be as funny.”
9. Vince and Chris Pratt bonded — big time.
“Chris asked me to go out one night just to hang out and talk, so that was good,” Vince said (Chris plays Brett, David’s best friend and lawyer). “We went out and just talked about stuff. He’s a new father himself and…we just talked about our backgrounds, hopes and fears and where we’re at and what we thought of the state of affairs of the worlds and all that kind of stuff. It’s kind of nice to have that because you’re more comfortable around somebody…. He’s really funny and he’s very genuine and he works very hard and I like him as a person. He’s really humble but also his work matters to him, so we had really fun. It was fun doing the scenes with him.”
10. Just like the rest of America, Vince quotes Anchorman.
When a reporter asked if his character Wes Mantooth or his mother would appear in the Anchorman sequel, Vince said, without skipping a beat, “Dorothy Mantooth is a saint.”
Delivery Man is due out Nov. 22. Check out the trailer, below.