I’ve been struggling to choose a favorite Irish American actor. It’s difficult to settle on just one. There are classic movie stars like Spencer Tracy and Gregory Peck. Then there is the “newcomer” Bradley Cooper, who has been rather vocal about his heritage, mentioning his Irish American father in more than one recent interview. And, of course, George Clooney would be an obvious choice – I have loved him since his stint on The Facts of Life in the 1980s.
The other day I saw this blog post from the always-lovely Emeralds, and I began to think a little outside the box. She told us about Irish American actor Vince Vaughn’s project, The Art of Conflict, a documentary exploring the political murals of Northern Ireland. The documentary is a Vaughn family affair: Vince produces and narrates the film and his sister, Valeri, directs.
After reading a few articles about the documentary and an interview with Vince and Valeri, I began to appreciate Vince Vaughn in a new way. Sure, I loved him in the 1996 film Swingers, and I laughed my way through many of his other efforts (including Old School, Wedding Crashers, and Anchorman), but I never considered Vince Vaughn one of my favorite actors. The way he explained his interest in the murals and the artists who create them makes me think Vince is right up there with my favorite Irish Americans in Hollywood.
What’s cool is that when Vince visited Ireland, just like thousands of other Irish Americans do every year, he came away with an appreciation of the entire island, with its complexities and contradictions. I think few tourists do that. He was struck by the gorgeous countryside and the friendly people, but became fascinated by what he saw in the art and the murals of Northern Ireland. Vince was intrigued and wanted to learn more about the people, the conflict, and the art.
It is always refreshing to see a Hollywood figure pursue something he or she is interested in, not for the fame or the attention. I am reminded of the hub-bub about Tom Cruise’s Irish ancestry several months ago. I know I need to let that one go, but there are so many other people in the entertainment business over here who feel a strong connection to their Irish roots in an authentic way. Like Vince Vaughn.
The Art of Conflict is available exclusively on Netflix. Here’s a clip: