Almost everyone is familiar with at least some of the work of John Hughes, the writer behind a number of classics in the ’80s and ’90s, including Home Alone, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Uncle Buck, and so many more. Hughes, however, was a notoriously private man. He retired from public life in 1994 and very rarely granted interviews up until his death in 2009. It’s not like he went into hiding, however. John Hughes simply returned back to his Chicago-area home and lived out the rest of his life.
It was during that period that Vince Vaughn befriended Hughes. Vaughn is from Lake Forest, Illinois, which is from where John Hughes hailed — many of his films were also set in the Chicago suburbs in towns like Lake Forest. “John was so special, and I had the fortune to get to know him really well,” Vaughn told his Dodgeball co-star Justin Long on this week’s episode of the Life is Short podcast. “Later in life, once I had had some success, I reached out to him just as a fan, and he was so gracious to me.”
“John did so much for me,” Vaughn continued. “He did so much for people, be it financially, giving to causes, and giving to people, and also with his time. He never took public attention for it. Like, when he passed away, there were some pen pal letters that came out,” Vaugh added. “A girl sent into a magazine … these letters that she had as an exchange with John. What she didn’t realize is that she was one of very many” kids with whom John exchanged letters.
Hughes also told Vaughn that, at the time of his biggest success, he had a hard time getting a lot of the films he wrote with female leads made. The studios would say, “Yeah, we can’t have a girl as the lead because men make the purchase choices. The men decide what to go to, and John said to them, ‘What house do you live in? There’s a lot of decisions being made by the women.” Meanwhile, John — “who was just a great listener and a great writer, wrote these terrific [female] characters whether it was Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, or Pretty in Pink.”
John was “always kind and connected, and he never lost that sense of being a child,” Vaughn added. One of the many surprising things that Vaughn learned about Hughes was when he went to his funeral and “so many people came in and got up and spoke about how much he meant to them. There was a young Black man who … didn’t have a father figure. John took him under his wing, so much so that he took the kid to all the Blackhawks games with the family. John would take him to vacations in Europe. He became part of the fabric of the family.” Vaughn said that the kid, who is now an adult, spoke at length about how he has had a successful life and a family of his own because of the lessons he learned from Hughes.
“He did great things in his life because he was a beautiful person,” concluded Vaughn, who also stresses (correctly) that there hasn’t been a better teen movie made in the 35 years since The Breakfast Club.
Vaughn is currently promoting his body-swap horror flick, Freaky, currently in theaters.
Source: Life is Short with Justin Long