“Delivery Man” is a heartfelt comedy about the complexities of life, seizing the day and becoming the person you are destined to be. Written for the screen and directed by Ken Scott, the film stars Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders. David (Vaughn), the eldest of three sons in the Wozniak family, works for the family’s Brooklyn-based meat business with his fathers and brothers, but he’s a constant foul-up, albeit a loveable and likeable one. His past comes back to haunt him when he learns that the anonymous donations he made to a fertility clinic years ago under the pseudonym “Starbuck” have produced 533 Wozniak descendants, resulting in a paternity nightmare.
At the film’s recent press day, Vaughn, Pratt and Smulders talked about their new comedy, what drew them to their characters, how they tapped into their own personal experiences for inspiration, their familiarity with the original Canadian movie their film is based on, the most affecting scenes in the film, how being parents in real life has changed them, and their upcoming projects. Vaughn also discussed how his own arc of maturity has paralleled the characters that he has played throughout his career and why he’d be up for doing another wild and crazy kind of film again.
QUESTION: You’re starring in a remake of a Canadian movie called “Starbuck” and telling the exact same story. What was your take on the character and did you watch the original film or intentionally avoid it?
VINCE VAUGHN: Yeah, I saw “Starbuck.” What was interesting to me was the director, Ken Scott, wrote the movie and also directed it. He’s a very passionate director and storyteller, and I think he was passionate about that script and telling that story, and then he was very passionate about telling that story to this audience here. And that’s my big question when I first heard about it, because if it was a different director or just a concept that they were trying to roll off of, I would have been less interested. But in meeting Ken and just the place that he works from, I feel very grateful that I met a director like that who is such a great storyteller. When you see the film, you really see a lot of Ken’s DNA in the movie. One of the things that I really love in the film is that nowadays a lot of times you’ll have something be just a comedy or just a drama, or just sentimental, and this under one umbrella is really unpredictable. From one scene to the next, you don’t know if you’re going to laugh or be tense. It was a compliment to Ken and that’s what I was most excited about being part of.
Q: Did you meet David Wozniak?
VAUGHN: It’s a fictional story.
Q: Oh, it is?
VAUGHN: Yeah. No, it’s something that he came up with and that he wrote, although there’s been stories that have come out where people have had similar experiences. But it was really a non-traditional way to get at the heart of a lot of human situations.
Q: For all three of you, I was wondering if there’s something in the movie that you personally relate to either with your character or with a different character?
COBIE SMULDERS: Okay. I was pregnant in this film, and I’ve been pregnant in my life. So that was a big one going through that again. The fake belly was a lot easier to have, but just dealing with the similar emotions that come with that was a very relatable thing for me.
CHRIS PRATT: I really like my mom in real life. This character has a difficult relationship with his mom. So that was something dissimilar. My mom is really cool. Also, I’m a new father. I don’t know what it’s like to have a whole troop of rug rats running around, but I know what it’s like to have one kid, and I know what it’s like to miss a little sleep and feel like you’re … You know, I know what it’s like to be a dad. So, there’s a little bit of that.
VAUGHN: Yeah, I mean I think as an actor the best thing you have is your imagination. You’re not going to have all the experiences, but you draw on the things that you know. So I think you definitely use the things that you’re familiar with to your advantage.
Q: The movie shows your first reaction when you find out that your girlfriend is pregnant. In real life, what was your own reaction when you found out that your wife was pregnant the first time and how was it the second time?
VAUGHN: I was thrilled. I had made a conscious effort. I got married a little later in life. Hence, we were excited to try right away, and thankfully my wife was able to get pregnant right away. Then the second one we were trying on this movie actually. So there was a day it was around Christmas that my wife came to me with a Christmas ornament with the families, and there was an extra like person in a Santa hat and a Christmas ornament, and that’s how I found out, which was great. I was really excited both times, thrilled to have impregnated my wife at this point. It’s more about me being proud of the fact of my own ability. I was very happy.
Q: How would you have reacted if an old girlfriend from 20 years ago suddenly said, “I have a 20-year-old son?”
VAUGHN: I haven’t been presented with that, but I think what’s nice in the movie is — I think what’s great about the character of David is his capacity to love. I feel like it’s impossible for him to resist trying to reach out and have a connection. I think that’s nice.
Q: In the film, we see you transition from someone struggling to even get yourself together into this guardian angel who then starts to become a cheerleader for your children. Could elaborate on how parents do that and how your character did that especially given the type of character you had?
VAUGHN: I think what happens is he’s presented with this circumstance, and he approaches it wanting to be all things, and then is presented with the actual reality of that. My job was made so easy with both Cobie and Chris because a lot of my character is taking information about how they see me, or the character I should say, and kind of these points of view. There is a nice relationship between the characters in the film, but there are also real points of view about the character. So I felt like it was easy coming to work with both of these guys, having them really say things, and you’re really just reacting to that.
Q: You had mentioned that in the movie you don’t know whether you’re going to laugh or you’re going to be touched. There’s a little bit of comedy. Three’s a little bit of drama.
VAUGHN: When I say, “touched,” I mean emotionally, not that someone in the movie will come up and begin to touch you.
Q: Thank you for that clarification.
VAUGHN: Just to be clear because sometimes things get lost. I didn’t always know if I was going to be touched or not.
Q: Do you see yourself delving into more of a dramatic role maybe in the future because it kind of touched you a little bit. Is that something you want to do?
VAUGHN: I think for all actors, it’s fun to do different things. I don’t know how you guys felt, but didn’t you guys enjoy that each day kind of required something a little bit different?
SMULDERS: Yeah, I think that especially with our relationship it was either we were like screaming at each other or we were very much in love. So we got to play a lot of different degrees of things.
Q: You end up having a huge family. Are you guys from big families, small families? How would that feel if your family grew a thousand times over?
PRATT: I’m from a good size family. I’m the youngest of three, and I’ve got a lot of close cousins, and family has always been very important to me. I don’t know if it grew like that. We would probably just take them all in. No, my dad would probably just put them all to work is what would happen.
SMULDERS: My parents divorced when I was young, but my father remarried, and so from my family I have two sisters and a brother. Then I have two step-sisters and two step-brothers. I have a bit of a Brady Bunch thing going on. So, yeah, it’s huge. It’s a pretty big family.
VAUGHN: That’s a big family.
VAUGHN: I have two older sisters and we’re very close. Yeah, we’re all very close. I think if you can survive the trying to kill each other and come on the other side of that, as you get older, at least in our case they’re probably my best friends now.
Q: Vince, much of your career you’ve been known for being the fast talking guy that gets away with things, and you start that way in this movie. But over the last few years you’ve transitioned from things like “Wedding Crashers” to “Couples Retreat” or a movie like this where you’re taking on family responsibilities. Can you talk a little about that process of making that kind of arc or transition in your career? And do you think that you would do another more wild and crazy kind of film again, or do you think that’s in the past?
VAUGHN: No, I’ll definitely do something more crazy, but I think part of it is your age, and different roles present themselves to you. Change is what you play I think at 23 to some degree than what you play at 43. So, for me, it’s more about tone. I think I started off doing more dramatic and character stuff and had a lot of fun. Then we are going early to the party with some of the old school and those movies, which is great. Then, now for me this movie particularly has been really great because like I said I think it is more dramatic, but I think it also is very funny and also a lot of different things. I think of the scene with the daughter where you are wondering what decision to make, or the boy in the wheelchair. It’s just what the circumstances are, but I think with the journey for Chris’ character, you really get a good feel of the back story of how he’s been perceived by his family. He’s a very loveable guy, but he’s kind of overwhelmed with these kids and his life. And, for Cobie, you see such a strong character that is really embarking on a big decision with someone who’s not fully there. I like that in this movie you have all of those different things. But I would definitely do another kind of more outlaw or comedy again depending on what that story was.
Q: Vince, do you feel like your own arc of maturity has paralleled the characters that you have played? What can you say about where you are now?
VAUGHN: I don’t know about that. I don’t know. I feel like, you know, I guess that different things come to you, and at different times in your life you’re drawn to different types of material. For myself, I feel like this director, this material came at me at a time when I was really wanting to do something different, and kind of return to stuff that I had done younger. So I was grateful I would say for the opportunity where this movie was concerned, and to get a chance to work with these guys was really fun. I think we came to work every day really everyone believing in the material, which was great. And then, in the future, I’ve never been one to plan stuff maybe to a fault, but you just have to sort of see what comes your way and what you’re interested in at that time.
Q: Vince, a lot of the most affecting scenes in the film come from you working with the character that you mentioned in the wheelchair. How did you prepare for playing those scenes?
VAUGHN: Well, what’s incredible is that the gentleman who played that part is a professional actor. I think he does a tremendous job in the film of really portraying someone who is physically facing the challenges that that character is, but that was an actor that’s tremendous playing that part. But you’re always fortunate I think as an actor even listening, and having great actors to work off of is so helpful. Like I said, with both of these guys and with a lot of the kids in the movie, sometimes being the lead in the film your job is to sort of be present in those scenes, and react truthfully to what they bring. So sometimes when I’m getting moved or feeling things, it’s really being open to what the other actors are bringing to the table.
Q: We see how just the very thought of being a parent changes him on the inside, and I’m curious for you guys, once you became parents, did you feel like that, too?
SMULDERS: Yeah, I mean you become responsible for a human being, and a lot of people talk about how they’ve never felt love like this before. You hear all these things before you have a child, and they’re all kind of true. And, yeah, I think it’s just dealing with the overwhelming responsibility of like I’m the protector of this child that affected me the most.
PRATT: Oh, yeah, you can’t help but change when you have a kid, and for me it was just a sense of I didn’t feel like anything was missing in my life and it wasn’t. It all came at just the right time, and now if I am absent from my son, I do feel like something is missing. But before that I was very fulfilled and I was having a lot of fun, and I was sowing wild oats and doing the kind of things that you should do when you don’t have kids. Now, I’m just doing less of that, but I earned it, you know. I feel like just spending quiet evenings with my wife and son and sitting in bed in the morning and watching him marvel over the curtains opening or whatever little thing. That all feels really good. And so, I’ve changed because I’m impressed. What’s funny is the way I’ve changed is I’ve got a whole new window through which to see the world, and everything is exciting for me again. Things that I took for granted are exciting for me again, the way something feels or smells or tastes or how drawers open. I’m like, “Look at that, kid. That is actually really cool.” It’s like just a wall with a knob and then you pull it, and there’s a bunch of shit in there. What is that about? I wouldn’t take a minute to appreciate a drawer before my son.
VAUGHN: I think it’s true. You definitely get a whole world opened up to yourself with kids, and I think as a parent you try to enjoy them, and be happy and have fun. And you also try to figure out what’s the best way to be a parent to them and set them up to be happy in life and pursue those things. So, I think a lot of it for me goes to my relationship. I’m very fortunate with my wife. You realize how much the relationship when kids are young can suffer. And it’s important to make sure that you are able to spend some time with each other. As a father, the best thing you can do for the kid is to love the mom. Even as a parent, I believe that loving the mother is the most important thing. And even parents who maybe aren’t together I think that’s important for them as well to respect each other and to be kind to each other, because I think it does so much in who they would pick to be around, or how they feel about themselves. So I think sometimes how we communicate is important just as an example.
Q: Chris, you recently returned to the States. I’m curious how the acclimation has been because it seems like you’ve jumped right back into things, and also we’re seeing you play more diverse roles. Is there anything you’re kind of chomping at the bit to play?
PRATT: Well, to address the first question, yeah, the transition back has been really nice, and kind of what Vince was saying about making sure that you spend enough time nurturing your relationship. I spent three days in New York with my wife, just the two of us, which was really, really great. I mean we just had an amazing time, and made up for lost time. I wouldn’t be surprised if nine months from now Jack has a brother or sister maybe. No, but we had a good time and it was great, and like what Vince said, it’s really important to nurture that. So that really helped with the transition. I think coming back from London to L.A. is a lot easier than going from L.A. to London in terms of the time change, because it just gives you a few extra mornings to sleep in and then you’re back on time.
Oh, and one thing, you know, it’s weird as actors because I mean we’re fortunate in the group of people who have to spend time away from their families. There are men and women serving overseas who certainly have it a lot harder than we do, and there are jobs that take people away from the families, and that’s a reality with some jobs that you have. One thing that’s really difficult I find is the transition, because not only do you have to learn how to transition to living on your own again, there’s a transition that happens learning how to live with somebody again. You know, I’ll be home and I’ll be on my computer, and I’ll think, “Oh, should I be in the other room where she is because is that what’s supposed to happen when you live together? Or is it okay for me to be here checking my e-mail in this room?” It’s like you just don’t know.
So there’s a little bit of a transition period that happens going away from your loved ones, and coming back in. But the transition period has been great, and I went back to work on Parks and Rec, which is an awesome family that I really love to work with and so that’s really nice. Then, in terms of the second question, I just want roles, and you said roles that I was chomping at the bit to play. I don’t know. Yeah, all of them. I just want juicy ones that all taste good and I’ll chomp away, but there are good roles, and I want to work with great filmmakers. I want to work with great actors. I’ve learned a lot from working with Vince on this movie. A friend of mine once told me that it’s really important to always pick somebody just to watch because you’re going to learn something.
I learned so much from watching Vince not only just in terms of acting and being professional and being sharp on set, but also how to treat your fans when they approach you and stuff. I mean anywhere this guy goes he gets recognized, which is something that I don’t necessarily have. I’ll get recognized from time to time. But really Vince can’t go anywhere without being confronted by people who just really love him. That sounds like it would be really great, but I think after a while that can be overwhelming, and I never once saw him treat somebody poorly. He treated his people really well. We were in Madison Square Garden with thousands of people, and they all knew who he was, and that’s where he gave every single one of those people a little moment, a little piece of himself. I think that’s something I’d aspire to do. I just want to work with people who are going to keep teaching me like this one.
Q: Cobie, this is two-part. This is the last season for “Mother.” Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like on the set knowing that this is coming to an end? But during the time that you’ve been on the series, you’ve also managed to do several movies, including this one. Do you know what you’re going to be doing next? Are you going to focus on film or are you interested in doing another series?
SMULDERS: The first part yeah it’s very emotional. Everyone is soaking it in. I’m really grateful to have been employed for the last nine years, and they’re very accommodating. They allowed me to go and shoot this movie on a hiatus week, and during that, I think I missed a few days of production to fly to New York and work with this guy. So, they have been just amazing. But in terms of the future, to sort of piggyback on what these guys have been saying, I mean as actors you’re sort of open to new experiences, and I’d like to just try new projects. In terms of film or TV, it’s hard to say. I think it just depends on the project.
Q: Cobie and Chris, you guys have done a lot of similar projects in the past. You’re both on hit comedies right now. You’re both part of the Marvel Universe. I was curious if you guys bonded over that, or did you share any fun stories?
PRATT: I tried to. I tried to, but she’s ice cold.
SMULDERS: Yeah, no.
PRATT: It’s funny. It is true. I feel like we’re seeing a lot of each other.
SMULDERS: Yeah, but only like with this kind of stuff. I mean, I came in for like a second. The new Lego movie is coming out, and Chris is in it and he’s so funny and amazing. I just saw the new trailer, which looks so funny. I know, I have a few words, but he was in the room, and we just keep seeing each other at fun things.
PRATT: Yeah, it’s crazy.
SMULDERS: He’s a good dude. I do like him a lot. I was acting before.
PRATT: I feel the same. It’s crazy. We see each other so much, and I have a crush on her husband, Taran, a pretty hard crush on him. He’s amazing. So I’ve been really …
SMULDERS: And I on your wife actually.
PRATT: And we’re going to you know what?
SMULDERS: Dinner dates.
PRATT: Yeah, I think it is strange. We’ve been intersecting a lot, but I think that happens a lot. It’s really weird, and you guys probably feel this way, too. I think it’s for everybody who’s doing this. It’s a bit of a circus, isn’t it? I mean like all of a sudden you show up and you’re all in town together. And then you depart and you might never see each other again. It’s a weird thing, but I feel that with both these guys I had a good time, and I hope to pull into town and do my tricks and my faces with them again.
Q: Cobie, your character in this definitely challenges David when she says she’s right. She’s totally willing to be independent and take responsibility for this child. What draws you to play these strong, bad ass funny women?
SMULDERS: Because they’re the most fun to play. It’s also that Emma’s a very conflicted character as well because she’s in love with this man, and she just wishes that it wasn’t so challenging at times. And I think that especially at the beginning when you’re single and you’re just in a relationship with each other, it’s one thing. But then if you bring a kid into the mix, it brings up a whole other list of responsibilities. And so, it’s fun playing against that. I don’t know why I get cast as those type of women a lot, but they’re kind of the most fun to play, you know, and it’s also nice to portray strong women in media and to have young girls grow up watching them.
Q: Chris, in the scene that you share with Vince when you’re outside and your children keep coming into the sandbox, how many takes were there when the little girl kept smacking you in the face? Was it one or more?
PRATT: It was more than one. I feel like we did that a few times. I remember Ken Scott kept backing it up to like before she slapped me, and it was really cold out. I was like, “I think we got it. I think we got it.” It was hard. That little girl is a star. Those kids are all amazing, but that little girl in particular is such a special kid. I mean she was just so confident. I remember one time saying to her, “How do you feel? Do you want to run lines?” And she said, “I’m good.” I can just see her.
SMULDERS: How old was she?
PRATT: I think she’s six or seven. Maybe six, but all those kids were just really fantastic, and I think I broke [character] a couple of times because she was just great. She was great. Those kids were just terrific. They were great kids.
Q: The three of you have all been parents. How did your expectations about being a parent change by having somebody and seeing how that plays out, and what were some of those expectations?
SMULDERS: Well, I think one of the things that I have fought for a long time is I feel that what you grow up with or how you grew up is what you think is right. And I think for a long time I was trying to recreate that, but it’s just not going to exist in my life for my child because we have a very different lifestyle. So, I sort of combated that for a while, and it was kind of learning just to be able to go with it, and do the best for your child in each moment instead of trying to make it something else because I grew up in Canada. It’s pretty awesome up there, guys. So it’s just very different.
Q: There are some great moments in this movie about reflecting on your own family and parents. Can you talk about tapping into your own experiences for inspiration while you were making this movie?
PRATT: Oh, my dad is a big man, and I remember as a kid always wondering why the hell he tied his robe above his belly. Like what is the deal with tying it up here on top of his belly when most people would tie it at their waistline? I realized after being big in this movie and wearing a robe that was probably designed for Cobie that that’s just where the tie is. And when you have a big belly you have to tie it above there. So I saw myself in my dressing room wearing that robe with the tie tied where it falls naturally on top of my belly. I thought to myself, “Oh, my God, I just became my dad.”
VAUGHN: You know, for me I think as an actor you bring some of your own experiences which can make things easier. You build off of it, but your imagination is always the best thing you have as far as creating things I think specifically for what that character is going through. But you’re definitely drawing obviously upon things that you can connect to, and then you kind of mold the change that you’re making into something that’s right for the character. What I love about the film is that to me a lot of the movie is about learning to accept who you are. You have the pressures to be a bunch of different things, and we don’t all have all skills at all sides of stuff. But getting to be okay with yourself, forgive yourself, you know, love yourself, and bringing that to the table for relationships whether it’s with someone that you’re in love with, a romantic relationship or a family, parents, kids.
There’s a lot of that in the movie, and I feel as we all watch the film. And to the point earlier about hopes and fears, I think what’s great about the film is as a parent it does kind of deal with your biggest fears or hopes for kids. But I think as a young person they connect to the movie because it’s what is in front of everybody every day. It’s “Gosh, I’d love to be doing this or I want my life to go this way, but how do I did I find myself in this? How do I get out of this? How do I change where I’m at?” You know, I think that that’s something for all of us as we go through life. As you get older hopefully you get a little better at getting past the moments that aren’t your best, or getting out of situations that aren’t your favorite and trying to increase the things that you are enjoying.
Q: This movie is really multi-dimensional and multi-layered. There are so many things that you can pull out of it. In the film, your son Vigo called you out when you said there was a difference between real families and the Starbuck situation and he made you find the definition. Can you talk a little about that?
VAUGHN: To me, one of the things that’s so loving and warm in the film was that you have a bunch of people looking for a connection who are looking to be a part of something. There’s something really wonderful in the way that the film in a very kind of non-fluffy way takes that journey. I’ve received some really nice notes from people already, even some people in the industry, who have been adopted or had other experiences, and they really spoke and moved me in a way about how the movie spoke to them. And so, to me when I watched the film, I find the kids in the movie to be really positive and loving with all this life and joy inside of them. There’s something that feels really wonderful about that connection that they find and that they experience. So I think there’s that side of things and however you go through it in life is what we all go through. It’s nice to feel loved and also I think something that’s forgotten a lot is that it’s nice to have someone to love. That’s a great side of it as well.