Chicago got a taste of Hollywood at Monday's local premiere of "The Break-Up" at the Music Box Theatre, and from the massive crowd that gathered to glimpse stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, it's clear the city is ready to make a long-term commitment to Tinseltown.
Gathered across the street on Southport Avenue hours before Vaughn, Aniston and others behind "The Break-Up" arrived, fans were desperate to get a look at the pair whose rumored relationship has been making headlines and coining the name, "Vaughnifer." Many of the screaming fans came prepared with umbrellas, though the rain mostly held off and people got much greater use out of their cameras and cell phones.
A variety of familiar faces turned out for the event: Former Bears Steve McMichael and Richard Dent walked the carpet, and Rex Grossman was seen walking out of the theater after the film. Secretary of State Jesse White and Gov. Rod Blagojevich were also on hand, with the governor receiving a mix of cheers and boos.
Fans didn't recognize screenwriters Jeremy Garelick or Jay Lavender--of course, neither did we--though actor Justin Long, who plays Aniston's coworker in the film and can also be seen in ads for Apple computers, received plenty of squeals from the crowd. Long snapped photos with some fans and talked about working with Vaughn, with whom he also starred in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story."
"He's the best. He's been like a mentor, like an older brother to me," Long said. "He has a lot of fun but he knows when to be serious. He's a serious actor, even when he's doing comedy. It's not all goofing around. He understands that it's not just getting laughs. It's playing in reality, and he does that better than anyone I know."
Director Peyton Reed then told us about the movie's attempt to be an "anti-romantic comedy," with Gary (Vaughn) and Brooke (Aniston) breaking up early on in the film and struggling to live comfortably together in their apartment.
"The movie chronicles not the blossoming of a relationship but the flowers falling off the tree," he said. "We were able to shoot the movie pretty much in order so I think it really helped the actors know where they were in the particular journey in the relationship. It is tricky. They're at odds for so much of the movie, you've gotta know that there's a real love and affection between them."
The film also has affection for Chicago, and Reed emphasized his efforts to capture the city.
"We were able to shoot almost wherever we wanted. In the way that Manhattan is a character in those Woody Allen movies or Baltimore is in "Diner" or something like that, I really wanted Chicago to be that kind of character in this movie," he said. "It was really about capturing a part of America that doesn't see as much film time as L.A. or New York does.
"And these characters are really a product of Chicago. These aren't characters who would live in New York or L.A."
When Aniston and Vaughn arrived about five minutes apart from each other, the screams were deafening, and the crowd quickly rushed closer to the red carpet, pressing up against the gates to snap photos and belt "I love you, Vince!" as loud as possible.
Aniston walked the carpet first; the two were never close enough to be photographed together. Their answers to reporters' questions were barely audible over the hooting and hollering, but we did hear Buffalo Grove/Lake Forest native Vaughn praise the people of Chicago and their support of the film: "Chicago, baby, the people got so much passion," he said.
Not wanting to ask the same old questions about making the movie and filming in Chicago, we asked Aniston if the staff at Wiener Circle--the Lincoln Park hot dog joint known for its staff that will talk trash as long as you're willing to send it back their way and for which she professed adoration on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"--treated her the same way they treat the rest of their customers: terribly.
"They weren't really that mean to me, but I came at a quiet hour of the day when they maybe weren't doing that," she said.
In terms of big, Hollywood-style premieres, Chicago was relatively quiet before "The Break-Up" came to town, but hopefully the fervor outside Music Box won't be the last time this city gets to toast a film shot on our own turf.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun