He's just come off "Dodgeball" and his next release is called "Thumbsucker," so one might assume that actor Vince Vaughn's latest is another over-the-top comedy.
But "Thumbsucker" is in fact a drama, one whose story — that of a compulsive high school student (played by newcomer Lou Taylor Pucci) who is ignored by his busy parents and turns to his debate coach (Vaughn) and orthodontist (Keanu Reeves) to help kick his thumb-sucking habit — is one that hits close to home for Vaughn.
"When I was a kid, I had learning disabilities," Vaughn disclosed recently. "Being someone who was confronted with that when I was younger, I was really drawn to the film for that reason."
In "Thumbsucker," due later this year, the troubled teen's school prescribes Ritalin for his learning disabilities, and though his parents don't understand the diagnosis, he is given a daily dose. The movie focuses on the boy's journey of "sort of being doped up," Vaughn said.
Vaughn added that he is against using medications for all youngsters with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a learning disability which is thought to affect as many as 5 percent of school-age kids in the U.S., according the to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI).
"You're sort of just numbing that person so there is not a problem every day in school," he explained. "But you're not necessarily helping that person to attain information and learn things."
Ritalin is the most frequently prescribed treatment of ADHD, according to the NCADI.
"I was very fortunate that my dad refused to let me take any of the medication that they wanted to put me on," Vaughn said. "And I think a lot of times, kids whose parents don't know any better get on it. Maybe in some cases it can be helpful, but it's always a rough thing to have people be doped up as they're growing, processing and learning."
Aside from "Thumbsucker," Vaughn has half a dozen other films in post or pre-production on his plate, including another dramatic feature due out this year called "The Sky Is Green," a chronicle of a 1980s record entrepreneur during the rise and fall of the West Coast hip-hop scene.
He's also completed "Be Cool," a sequel to "Get Shorty," and has a supporting role in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Vaughn is keeping his comedy reputation alive with "The Wedding Crashers," which he just shot with his "Starsky & Hutch" co-star Owen Wilson.
"There has definitely been some crossing going on," Vaughn said about working on multiple movies with actors like Wilson, Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller. "The thing of it is, it was nothing really planned or premeditated, it was just one of those sorts of things that just happens."
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