By David Hennessy
“It is certainly the biggest thing I’ve done in the states,” Dublin actor Simon Delaney says with certainty of his latest project Delivery Man, starring Hollywood star Vince Vaughn and Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother. Ireland’s latest shooting star Jack Reynor is also among the cast.
In this remake of a 2011 French-Canadian film named Starbuck, Vaughn plays David Wozniak, a slacker who is constantly disappointing his girlfriend and family with his lack of responsibility. However, David gets a rude awakening when he learns that from some sperm donating he undertook to make money as a young man, he now has 533 children who are eager to know their father.
Simon is well known to Irish and British audiences from his starring roles in popular comedies such as RTE’s Bachelor’s Walk, Sky’s Moone Boy and dramas such as The Fall and Roy. Previous Stateside roles have seen Simon appear in The Good Wife and Kiefer Sutherland’s Touch. Delivery Man sees him play the brother of The Internship and Starsky and Hutch star Vaughn in a film where family is very much central to its theme and message.
“This has been the first movie that I landed on and it was a not bad one to be the first one: A Disney and Dreamworks feature so it’s definitely a step up and hopefully it carries me forward on this amazing journey that I’ve been on for the last couple of years. It was a real eye opener and great experience.”
A comedy with a good heart, Delivery Man shows Vaughn playing a different kind of role to what we are used to seeing him play in films such as Wedding Crashers or Dodgeball: “It’s a different side of Vince that people are seeing in this because he’s not the everyman goofball person he’s played through his career. This is kind of a different edge to him, he shows an emotional side and there’s no doubt about it: His shoulders bare the brunt of the movie but he’s broad shoulders, he’s six foot six. He’s well able for it, do you know what I mean?”
His character may have struggled with responsibility but was Vince always a leader to his fellow cast members, making sure they were comfortable and being approachable when the cameras weren’t rolling? “Absolutely and I think you have to be, particularly with a movie like this because it is such a big ensemble piece. There’s no time to be diva-esque and throwing strops when you’ve got to have relationships with so many people.
“The director Ken and himself had a very, very strong relationship. They trusted each other very much. That’s bore fruit now in the fact that Ken is directing his latest movie so they’re working together again. That relationship was solid and then Vince’s relationship with all the rest of us was very solid. He was approachable and he was very open to talking about a scene before you shot it and if you wanted to try something different, he would always do it. It’s a great way to work when you’re doing a movie like that.
“I was always a fan of Vince and obviously to play his brother then was kind of like when I did the movie with Sean Penn (This Must Be the Place): It was kind of daunting. It’s that thing of: ‘Jesus Christ, these lads have been there, done that and worn the t-shirt’.
“Most of my stuff was with Vince so I met him then for the first time before we started shooting and he’s just a really nice guy, down to earth, a father and we had all that in common. He loves the Irish connection so there was plenty to talk about and I learned a lot from him too. I try to take the approach where you go into a job and try to take something from it and I definitely learned something from Vince just in terms of improv and just getting yourself ready for a scene and just watching these guys work. It’s great for you because it develops you as an actor.”
Did things ever get surreal for Simon on set? “Yeah, the first day we were rehearsing. We had a lot of rehearsals for the basketball sequences in the movie, some of which were left in and some of them weren’t, but in walked in Vince, and Vince is a big sports nut anyway, ready to go and I said to myself: ‘I just met Vince Vaughn, three minutes later I’m playing basket ball with him, this is why I’m actor. Because one day I dress as a tomato and the next day I dress as a village pries and the next day I work with Vince Vaughn’. It is quite surreal. You do have to catch yourself but then you have to snap out of it and do your job because you’re there to do your job. And it is nerve racking, it really is. You’ve got a crew of 250 people and you just got a card from Steven Spielberg wishing you the best on your new movie and you’re going: ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph, this is the real deal’. Surreal is definitely the word to describe the experience, it really is.”
Was it easy for Simon and his screen brothers Vince Vaughn and Bobby Moynihan to build a chemistry? “Yeah (it came easy), it just seemed to work. Actually, that was kind of bizarre, the three of us could, particularly myself and Bobby pass for brothers, it’s kind of frightening. I remember Bobby’s girlfriend was onset and she spent an hour or two with us and at one point, she said: ‘Jesus, you guys. Are you sure your fathers weren’t in the same places?” Because it was uncanny, our mannerisms, our characteristics and of course we look like each other but again, the casting was obvious. Look at Vince. They needed two Adonis like people to play his brothers… and they ended up with me and Bob!”
What are Simon’s thoughts on a young actor called Jack Reynor that everyone is talking about? “Never heard of him,” he jokes. Everyone has heard of Jack from his award-winning display in What Richard Did and then landing the lead role in the forthcoming Transformers 4. “Transformers, yeah? Bizarrely enough, I was over there auditioning for the movie the first time I saw What Richard Did and then a couple of weeks later, I find out he’s in the movie. It’s bizarre because it’s such a small parish here and then the fraternity of actors within that parish is even smaller and everyone knows everyone so I’d heard of this guy. People always said: ‘Yeah, there’s something about this kid. There’s something special there’. And then I saw What Richard Did and he just blew me away in that.
“I remember we met that first day at that read through and I thought it was the first time we’d met and he said ‘I remember ringing you a a couple of years ago. I was gonna head over to LA and I was gonna ring you about agents and about all that kind of stuff. I rang you, we spoke, we were gonna meet for a cup of coffee in LA..’ But I couldn’t make it. Something happened so we were supposed to meet, we didn’t but we met on Delivery Man. Me playing his uncle of sorts, I’m far too young to be his uncle but carry on, and now we’re all trying to hang on to his coat tails, he’s just gone stratospheric.
“We all knew when we were shooting Delivery Man that he had done a couple of screen tests and auditions for Transformers so we all kind of knew he was in for it and every day we would say: ‘Any news, Jack?’ And then when he was actually on set one night, Michael Bay called and he stepped off set to take the call and everyone was looking through a window, like eager fathers awaiting the birth of their new son, and he came back in and said: ‘I got it’. There was a little bit of a party that night, let’s say.
“He pretty much went straight into it after Delivery Man. He went to China and he’s been on it ever since. He must be miserable though: What a job, travelling the world playing the second lead behind Mark Wahlberg for a giant three picture deal: Miserable. You feel sorry for him. He’s got nothing going for him: Good looking, great personality, really nice guy, he won’t go far.”
Of course, Simon is joking when he says that as he is full of admiration for what Jack has achieved: “He just went out there (to Hollywood) and said: ‘I’m gonna try it’. It just goes to show you these things happen. If you’ve got passion, commitment, enthusiasm and talent, you can do it and Jack is the poster boy for that ad campaign at the moment and good on him.”
Delivery Man retains the same director and writer as the original film in Ken Scott and Simon believes this decision has a lot to with its success: “The difference between most remakes and this remake is that they retained the original director and writer which is unusual for Hollywood, they normally bring in a bunch of writers and a director. That was invaluable to us on set because nobody knew the story better than Ken.
“The way the business has gone, people seem to have an image that the only money to be made in Hollywood now is either in remakes or franchises and it’s kind of true. There’s a saying out there at the moment that it’s easier to finance a €200 million movie than a €5 million movie because if you’re gonna be investing in a €200 million movie, the chances are it’s gonna hit for ya because it’s either a franchise or a remake or something based on a book. It’s getting harder to make indie movies. That’s just the way it’s going. If they ever remake some of the big movies and someone rings me up and says ‘do you want to do it?’ You would bite their arm off because you’ve got to feed the kids.”
Asked if he has any new year’s resolutions or hopes for 2014, Simon says: “Personally and professionally, just to keep moving forward in terms of the US and keep working here. On a non- selfish scale, I just hope that we, the Irish people- We need to get a grip of this country and get a grip of the people who are running it because they’re running it into the ground. I hear it every day when I do the school run and you’re talking to parents and it’s just we need to get this thing sorted out and I don’t know if the people there at the moment are the right people to do it but that’s another interview completely. I’d be afraid I’d say something I’d regret.”
Watch a clip of the film here:
For the full interview, see the January 4 edition of The Irish World.
Delivery Man is in cinemas on January 10.