Here Are Vince Vaughn’s Best Pre-‘True Detective’ Dramatic Roles

A prolific actor with a career spanning more than 25 years, Vince Vaughn started out playing bit parts in China Beach, 21 Jump Street, and a pair of after-school specials on CBS and ABC. Relatively early on, Vaughn’s star rose and he gained tremendous attention for playing Trent, the arrogant, smooth-talking ladies’ man in the Jon Favreau-scripted Swingers back in 1996. While he’s played a number of different characters since then, he’s still most often recognized from movies like Wedding Crashers, Old School, and The Internship, all variations on his most notorious, and quoted, character.

As Frank Semyon in the highly anticipated second season of HBO’s True Detective, however, Vaughn may be looking to reintroduce himself as a serious dramatic actor. But before he gets the chance to do that, let’s look back at some of his decidedly less-comedic roles.

Jamie O’Hara – Rudy

In Vaughn’s first movie role (aside from his work as an uncredited extra in For The Boys), he plays an arrogant quarterback with a fondness for bullying. While not the most sympathetic of characters, he does manage to add a bit of humanity along with his sense of entitlement, resulting in a believable display of frustration.

Wayne Westerberg – Into The Wild

Sporting a goatee and looking slightly unkempt, Vaughn portrays a rational everyman who tries to talk Christopher McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch) out of his grandiose idea to retreat into the Alaskan wilderness. “What people we talkin’ about?” he asks McCandless, while he alternates between mocking and embellishing his youthful, idealistic impulse.

Russell Durrell – A Cool, Dry Place

A grounded portrayal of a single father trying to balance life with his son and his career as an attorney after being abandoned by his wife. Throw in his work as a basketball coach and a love triangle set in rural Kansas and you’ve got one of Vaughn’s more earnest performances.

Norman Bates – Psycho

Taking on the difficult task of portraying one of cinema’s most infamous characters, Vaughn puts his own subtle spin on Norman Bates, making him much more anxious and quivering than the Anthony Perkins original. While Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake was largely written off as unnecessary, this added nuance to the character is worth noting.

Lester “The Molester” Long – Clay Pigeons

In this frontier noir murder mystery with one foot firmly in the black comedy genre, Vaughn shines as Lester “The Molester,” a serial killer with a high regard for his newfound friendship with Joaquin Phoenix’s Clay. With just the right amount of disarming charm to mask his sociopathic tendencies, he manages to play it over-the-top while still coming off as believable.

John ‘Sheriff’ Volgecherev – Return to Paradise

Vaughn plays a limo driver who is guilted into returning to Malaysia to face punishment and help a friend who took the fall for a pile of hash that was found in their beach house two years prior. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s a scene in the film where Vaughn tries to comfort his friend that may be his best bit of acting.

Rick Barnes – Domestic Disturbance

A run-of-the-mill thriller starring Vaughn as the stepdad who’s not what he appears to be. His cold, piercing delivery could give us an indication of what we’re likely to see in True Detective.