The first True Detective trailer has arrived, and Vince Vaughn’s haunting stares suggest his character has some serious psychological baggage.
When Vaughn was announced as the one of lead parts in the new instalment, alongside Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell, there was a mixed response from fans on Twitter, with lots of excitement but also some concern that Vaughn is too ‘rom-com’, too silly and not dark enough to star in what was last season, a bleak and often harrowing show.
But those concerns, while legitimate, might be an underestimation of Vaughn’s talent. It’s true that some of his recent films like Fred Clause, Couples Retreat and The Dilemma have been… well, “lightweight” is probably the kindest term. But there’s a much darker, sharper side to Vaughn that we saw before he did the hugely successful Wedding Crashers and became Hollywood’s go-to rom-com guy.
In 1998 drug-smuggling thriller Return to Paradise, Vaughn plays a limo-driver who faces a dilemma involving life, death and morality. There is some serious angst there and not a dodgeball in sight. Watching that, it’s clear that Vaughn has an edge to him that we don’t see much afterwards. The same goes for Clay Pigeons in which he plays a serial killer. No mediocre comedy there either. And even in 1996 movie Swingers, which is ostensibly a comedy, we see him as a character with a cynical approach to the opposite sex.
The truth is, it was always going to be difficult to imagine anyone taking over the True Detective roles from actors as brilliant as Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. But then it wasn’t always clear that McConaughey, star of How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, would be so good at the dark stuff, either. Remember Failure to Launch? The Wedding Planner?
It also makes a difference that the set-up is different in the next series. Rather than two detective partners like Rust and Marty, Farrell will play a cop and Vaughn a career criminal “in danger of losing his empire when his move into legitimate enterprise is upended by the murder of a business partner.”
Vaughn’s ‘nice-guy’ aura mixed with his ability to play darker, haunted characters might just be perfect for his new True Detective role as a criminal trying to create a facade of respectability.