Posted on Monday, June 1st, 2015 by Germain Lussier
The career of mega-star actor Vincent Chase can be traced back to a single word: “Mentos.” Mega-agent turned studio head Ari Gold saw the fresh-faced young Queens actor in a commercial and instantly knew he’d be a star. Fast-forward 15 years and Chase, who has become one of the most notorious, controversial and famous actors in the world, is starring and directing in the first film Gold has put together as studio head. Hyde is a modern day, cyber retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde story that has gone way over budget for the first time director and threatened the career not only of Gold, but Chase as well.
How did Chase get to this point? How does an actor in a Mentos commercial become one of the most polarizing and popular presences in Hollywood? We’ll tell you, going from his first major studio film Head On, to his Sundance darling Queens Boulevard, his James Cameron mega-hit Aquaman, moving into a producer role for Medellin, a Martin Scorsese driven-comeback in Gatsby and so much more. Join us for the insider ride through the entire Hollywood career of mega-star turned first time director Vincent Chase.
Chapter 1: Head On
Though many had seen Vincent Chase in small roles, in Jag and in A Walk to Remember, his first major film was Head On, co-starring Jessica Alba. The film was a hit, grossing $18.6 million on its opening weekend, second only to the Pixar squirrel movie. It also, according to Chase’s best friend turned defacto manager Eric Murphy (who spoke with /Film) was the reason Chase brought his friends to Los Angeles. “I think Head On was when Vince probably thought ‘You know what? I need a little help out here,’” said Murphy. “When Head On hit, Vince kind of made his mark and thought, I need an entourage.” Variety hated the film, but the New York Times praised it, calling Chase the next Johnny Depp.
The actor, however, knew this was only the beginning. Before the film opened, he, Murphy and his agent Ari Gold knew he needed to book his next film. Gold liked Matterhorn for Chase, an action film described as “Die Hard in an amusement park.” Murphy read the script and, as we’ll see, more or less made the decision for Chase that the film wasn’t for him. In turn, they turned down a $4 million pay day. Colin Farrell ended up taking the role.
Upset at the potential mistake, the first of the random windfalls that would guide Chase’s blessed career happened. Josh Weinstein, a then aspiring agent who was Gold’s former assistant and something for a rival, gave Murphy a script called Queens Boulevard. It was raw, it was emotional, it was based on Chase’s hometown. This had to be Vincent Chase’s next film.
Enter Billy Walsh, a fresh, hot director off a major award at Sundance, who the producer of Queens Boulevard set to meet with Chase and Murphy. The director and star hit it off and despite obvious tension between Walsh and Murphy, they decided to move forward with the project. There was one problem: Walsh told Chase and Murphy he wanted to rewrite the script.
Upon reading Walsh’s rewrite, Chase and Murphy were taken back. The director had added a homosexual encounter into the film both felt was largely out of character for Chase’s role. Walsh urged them to trust him – that this scene would make the movie – and reluctantly, the duo agreed. If Walsh felt the scene was best for the movie, Chase would do it. Turns out, however, Walsh was just testing Chase’s trust. The scene was a fake, and a lifelong friendship was born.
Before production could start on Queens Boulevard, Chase had one more big hurdle to overcome – his relationship with Murphy. The long time best friends were just getting their feet wet in Hollywood and Murphy wanted to make things official. He wanted to be Vince’s manager. This lead to a rift between the two until, finally, Chase realized Murphy was one of the few people in the world he could trust. As they boarded the plane to New York to shoot Queens Boulevard, they agreed to the deal.
Chapter 2: Queens Boulevard
“Queens Boulevard was just a guy trying to flex his artistic muscle,” said Doug Ellin, Chase’s long time advisor, who spoke to /Film. “I think he’s a guy who really wants to do good work and there are people like that out there. Like a Daniel Day-Lewis, who can do things whenever he wants. I wanted Vince to be that kind of guy.”
Returning from filming Queens Boulevard, agent Ari Gold told Chase he’d already got his next project hand picked: Aquaman. Chase didn’t want to be a superhero but Gold explained the actor needed to raise his profile, and his bank account, after several months on a small indie film set. “Ari Gold had the great quote where he said, ‘You do one for you, then one for them. Queens Boulevard was our attempt,” said Murphy. The manager had just the project to fill both those quotas: the Pablo Escobar biopic Medellin. Unfortunately for Chase, shooting Queens Boulevard after Head On instead of a studio picture hurt his marketability a bit. Gold broke the news that Tom Cruise was circling Medellin and Chase should do Aquaman. The actor remained understandably reluctant.
The script for Aquaman was by Andrew Kevin Walker, the writer of Seven. Murphy really liked it, as did Chase, but this was 2005 not 2015, and they were still reluctant. Did Chase really want to be seen on the big screen in spandex? Warner Bros.’ then desire to shoot three back to back sequels, and pay Chase $5, $7 and $12 million respectively, did change his tune though and Chase agreed to play Aquaman.
At that time, Aquaman didn’t have a director. A few days later, someone was interested: James Cameron. This was huge news for Chase, but the problem was Cameron reportedly wanted Leonardo DiCaprio for the role. Gold called the studio and found out that Cameron loved the script but didn’t know who Chase was.
Murphy and Gold both made it their goal to get Cameron a screening of Chase’s latest work, Queens Boulevard, only to be stopped by the director. Billy Walsh decided he didn’t want anyone to see the movie before Sundance. Still, the hustle of Murphy and Gold paid off and got Cameron interested in Chase. He decided to fly to Sundance to see the film.
In Park City, before Queens Boulevard screened or Cameron made a decision, Murphy ran into Harvey Weingard, legendary producer and studio executive. On the spot he offered Chase a surfing movie that shot in Australia three weeks later for $3 million dollars. Their money problem was, hypothetically, solved but the boys from Queens had a dilemma. Should they take the guaranteed money or role the dice and try to make a James Cameron film?
Never ones to take the easy way out, Murphy and Chase agreed to Weingard’s terms, and then changed their minds hours later. This made Weingard extremely mad and had a legendary meltdown, minutes before Cameron was to see Queens Boulevard.
The Sundance premiere of Queens Boulevard went well but, afterwards, Chase’s long time friend and driver Turtle told him Cameron left 10 minutes into the movie. This, as you’d expect, did not sound like a good sign until Murphy’s phone rang. James Cameron loved what he saw in the first ten minutes of Queens Boulevard so much, he wanted Chase to play Aquaman. It was a moment that would change Chase’s life forever.
Among his first duties as the new Aquaman, Chase would have to go to Comic-Con with his co-star, Mandy Moore, to reveal their roles to the world. What was particularly interesting about Cameron’s choice to cast Moore opposite Chase was the pair previously worked together on A Walk to Remember. On that set, Chase developed a bit of an unhealthy obsession with the actress and the director was actually forced to shut down production on the film for a day. Though Chase struggled with reuniting with Moore for this massive film, and almost decided to quit because of it, the two eventually figured things out and production on Aquaman began, aimed at a Summer 2006 release date.