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December 15, 2011  | by: Dania McDermott

Unless you’re a raving admirer  — or pop culture enthusiast — you probably don’t remember the first time you saw Vince Vaughn.  If you did, you’d envision a much different man. And when confronted with his current image, you’d be left with no other option than to stammer the obvious: “What happened, Vince?”

Before sharing top-billing in big budget blockbusters with fellow funnymen like Owen Wilson, the actor spent his early days playing a host of memorable supporting characters – like a cocky quarterback in 1993’s football favorite, Rudy.  But his ability to stand out wasn’t owed entirely to a commanding presence and characteristically fast-paced speech. Standing well over six feet with delicately chiseled features, the Illinois-native possessed looks that were as striking as his burgeoning acting chops.

That’s right: Once upon a time, Vince Vaughn was hot.

Vince Vaughn = Hot

Vince Vaughn = Hot

And not the uber quaffed, prettier-than-his-girlfriend kind of hot – his was the edgy, potentially dangerous brand of hotness affectionately deemed that of a “bad boy.”

Guest spots on after-school specials and established hits like 21 Jump Street showcased an even younger Vaughn, who, Jew-fro withstanding, showed immense hottie potential at the tender age of nineteen.  But being cute at 19 is hardly an accomplishment; Vaughn’s real sex appeal was immortalized later, when he appeared in 1996’s cult hit, Swingers.

Swingers (1996)

Swingers (1996)

Playing opposite off-screen pal Jon Favreau’s apprehensive character, Mike, Vaughn’s portrayal of Trent, the consummately self-assured friend, makes full use of the actor’s handsome face and impressive stature, the trusty equation of good looks and jerkish charm cementing his bawdy appeal.

Hot = Vince Vaughn

Hot = Vince Vaughn

Of course, Vaughn’s obnoxiously endearing turn in Swingers was a rightful point of praise among critics, overshadowing the opportunity for his ruggedly smooth sex appeal to be propagandized like other actors who were making waves at the time.

But if people found Vince Vaughn sexy, it didn’t matter. At least not as much as his ability to be creepy.

Between the breakout success of Swingers and his current status as comedic box office champ, Vaughn’s career entered an interesting impasse: In 1998, he played the role of a serial killer in two films, Clay Pigeons and Psycho. And in 2001, he terrorized John Travolta and his family as a murderous ex-con in Domestic Disturbance.

It was the era of “Dark Vaughn,” a period in which only viewers with a real taste for danger could ingest his sexiness (which, despite making some sinister turns, remained firmly in tact).

But it wasn’t all serial killers and scariness for Vince fans. Within two years of seeing him dressed in his dead mother’s threads on the big screen, HBO viewers cooed at his intentionally amusing performance as “hunky agent” Keith Travers on Sex and the City.

Carrie Bradshaw Dug It

Carrie Bradshaw Dug It

And with roles in expressly comedic films like Zoolander and Old School following closely thereafter, the actor’s niche in Hollywood was again repurposed, bringing him back to his successful origins: Vince Vaughn, the funny guy.  By the end of 2004, Vaughn appeared in Starsky & Hutch, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – major hits that not only established a new brand of comedy, but a new brand of Vince.

Uh Oh! (2005)

Uh Oh! (2005)

Sharing top-billing with Owen Wilson in 2005′s equally (if not more) successful comedy, Wedding Crashers, two things became imminently clear:

1. Vaughn would soon receive top-billing in a string of ill-conceived and therefore less successful movies, and;

2. While still reasonably attractive, the actor was beginning to look a bit rough.

Appearing hefty and tired compared to a few years prior, Vaughn had two options at this point: He could either hit the gym and get a few facials, or continue to eat as he pleased, talk shit, and party. He chose the latter.

And in a repeat performance of the seemingly irrelevant sex appeal he first donned, if people thought Vince Vaughn let himself go, that too didn’t matter.

An affront to everything we’d ever been told about Hollywood, it seemed that the less attractive he looked, the more successful he became. He was asked to gain weight for The Break Up (2006), and given his recent role in The Dilemma, as a man burdened by the knowledge that his best friend’s wife is cheating, we’re sure the bags under his eyes were a selling point during the film’s casting.

Sure, receding hairlines, thicker waistlines and under-eye bags are common among American men his age. Trouble is, Vince has long abandoned “ordinary” — he’s an A-list actor, and we want him to look the part. For our sake.

Obligatory Then & Now Shot

Obligatory Then & Now Shot

But unless the haggard expression and flabby physique he’s acquired somehow begin harming his comedic reign, there’s little chance that Vaughn will ever go out of his way to be hot again — there’s simply no reason to.

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