Warning: Spoilers Ahead
For most of his career Vince Vaughn has made us laugh. But in season two of HBO’s “True Detective,” we see a different side of the actor and the change up comes at a perfect time in his career.
In “True Detective,” Vaughn plays Frank Semyon, a shady businessman who intends to go on the straight-and-narrow (or so we think) with his plan to create a high-speed rail system through California. However, when his legitimate business partner is viciously murdered, Semyon has to return to his dark past to find out who killed him.
The move to TV comes when Vaughn has hit a speed bump in his movie career.
Vaughn hasn’t had a hit in years. His latest movie, “Unfinished Business,” had a worldwide gross of only $US13.6 million. Prior to that, he starred in a string of flops including “Delivery Man” and “The Internship.“
But Vaughn in “True Detective” is dark, twisted, and has the perfect delivery to play a tough-guy villain. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise for Vaughn fans who love watching him play the dickish, short-tempered friend in films like in “Swingers” and “Made.” He’s also played the “bad guy” in “Anchorman” (and its sequel) and “Starsky & Hutch.”
If you dig deeper into his filmography, you may recall Vaughn’s forgettable evil performances as Norman Bates in the Gus Van Sant 1998 shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho” and a step father in 2001’s “Domestic Disturbance.“
But the difference with “True Detective” is that he’s coming into a popular show known for having incredible performances. Both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were nominated for Emmys for their starring roles in season one.
Vaughn has big shoes to fill. For season two, show creator Nic Pizzolatto needed an actor who could pull off playing a character full of complexities in his personal life and profession, but also be able to hold his own opposite co-stars Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch (all playing police officers).
It turns out, Vaughn was the perfect choice.
The actor uses his dry whit to deliver on-the-mark sarcastic replies when talking to his underlings (not to mention great stare-downs with Farrell), and wows in one of the most chilling moments so far at the beginning of the second episode.
While laying in bed looking up at a water stain on his ceiling, his Semyon character gives a two-minute plus monologue on how the stain reminds him about his childhood abuse from his father.
The chocked-up whisper and tearing up as he recounts the horrific episode from his youth as the camera looks down on him from the ceiling is up there as one of the best performances Vaughn has ever given.
The scene leaves the viewer with the notion that Semyon is completely twisted and as the episodes progress his actions only confirm that.
It’s hard to say if we have a “McConaissance” building for Vaughn (the term used for season one star Matthew McConaughey’s recent evolution from relationship comedy stud to Oscar winner). But to see Vaughn shine in a role like this should make his fans optimistic that the actor is turning a corner in his career.
Season two of “True Detective” begins June 21 on HBO.
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