Twitter exploded over the encounter after journalist Timothy Burke shared footage of it, along with the message, “I’m very sorry to have to share this video with you. All of it, every part of it.”
As is the case in our divisive political climate, any celebrity getting friendly with Trump or with someone from his family will face the wrath of those who oppose the president’s alleged corruption and his controversial actions and rhetoric, and that was exactly what happened to Vaughn Monday night.
Many proclaimed their intention to “cancel” Vaughn and to never again watch “Wedding Crashers,” a still beloved rom-com that’s easy to get sucked into if it pops up on cable TV.
“Vince Vaughn has been cancelled,” one fan tweeted, while another said, “Whelp … that tells me all I need to know about Vince Vaughn.”
Another person called Vaughn “#complicit,” tweeting: “Shaking the hand of the man who colluded w/foreign leaders against his own country, instituted a law that lead to kidnapping & deaths of young children, recklessly brought America near to war & resulted in the deaths of 176 ppl shot down in retaliation.”
But predictably, Trump supporters pushed back against the “cancel” calls, saying any American should be honored to speak to the president. They also decried “the Left” for being intolerant of people who have different political viewpoints.
“He’s a brilliant actor and he’s having a conversation with YOUR President,” tweeted one.
Vaughn probably was being more than just cordial to Trump; he likely was enjoying a conversation with a politician and one-time entertainment personality with whom he shares ideological positions.
As CNN correspondent Kate Bennett and others noted, Vaughn has been vocal about his conservative politics.
“The actor has long been documented as one of the most demonstrably rightwing stars in the predominantly liberal enclave of Hollywood,” wrote The Guardian writer Guy Lodge.
Describing himself as Libertarian, Vaughn supported Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, and Rand Paul’s 2016 bid.
More controversially, Vaughn invited a Twitter pile-on in 2015 when he spoke out in a British GQ interview against gun-free school zones and against banning guns in general. He claimed that school shootings only occur in schools that “don’t allow guns.”
He furthermore said, “Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat.”
Unfortunately for Vaughn’s profile, his GQ comments came the same year he starred in the critically maligned second season of “True Detective.” Expectations were high for the second season of “True Detective,” and Vaughn and his die-hard fans seemed hopeful that a starring turn on the HBO noir crime drama would lend his career the same jump-start given to Matthew Mcconaughey when he starred in the series’ acclaimed first season.
But Variety and other outlets called Vaughn’s “True Detective” season one of the worst shows on TV that year. Vaughn’s hopes of re-entering the celebrated screen actor pantheon, with the prospect of Emmys and Oscars, seemed to end.
That’s not to say Vaughn has not continued to work as an actor and producer. In fact, he has kept busy as he has shifted away from being the leading man in benign comedies into projects that foreground his politics and cultural views, as The Guardian said.
For example, he collaborated with the conservative firebrand Glenn Beck to produce the documentary series, “Pursuit of the Truth,” for Beck’s Fox News-esque network The Blaze, The Guardian reported. Vaughn also was executive producer for Netflix’s “F Is for Family,” an animated series that focuses on “a loud-mouth white guy” in the 1970s who laments the rise of “political correctness,” as Vox explained.
Mostly, Vaughn has gained notice for starring in the violent exploitation films that are helmed by director-writer-heavy-metal-musician S. Craig Zahler. These cultish “unwoke racist fantasias,” in the words of writer Scott Tobias, include the nightmare prison film, “Brawl in Cell Block 99” in 2017 and last year’s bad-cop thriller, “Dragged Across Concrete.” In the latter, Vaughn co-starred with right-wing provocateur Mel Gibson.
Critics like J. Hoberman and Manohla Dargis from the New York Times said that Zahler’s films espouse a mix of Breitbartian “white male grievance” that is expressed by the “casual” bigotry of both their heroes and villains, along with “old-fashioned American anti-authoritarianism — with its hatred for rules matched only by a love of guns.”
Vaughn’s films with Zahler are known to appeal to Trump supporters, which again means no one should be surprised about Vaughn’s chumminess with the president Monday night.
As debate continued on Twitter over Vaughn’s presidential tete-a-tete, it extended to arguments over whether Vaughn should still have a career in Hollywood.
“He’s revealed himself to be a fascist and enemy to democracy. Hollywood already knows. This will hurt him with the general public and his ‘fans,’” tweeted one user.Certainly, some people will “cancel” Vaughn over his Trump connection, if they haven’t already because they don’t like his politics or because he made some pretty bad movies and starred in that painful season of “True Detective.”
But Vaughn has continued to have a career in Hollywood, and probably will continue to flourish in his particular corner of the industry, this week’s Twitter storm not withstanding. His career just isn’t want it was — but that can be said for many former A-list actors as they age and as the industry changes.