”It was just to make my friends laugh and submit something to my agent,” says Jon Favreau, 30, who wrote and polished Swingers for three years before he scored backing from Miramax. The story — about wannabe actors foraging for ”babies” in Hollywood’s grooviest hangouts — takes off from Favreau’s real-life booze cruises, when buddy Vince Vaughn made everyone hoot by inventing mock Rat Pack jargon.
”We weren’t getting acting jobs, so our focus became being funny at the bars for the girls. That was, like, our job,” says Vaughn, 26, who plays the smooth-talking but caddishly insincere Trent.
Now employed in Swingers, the boys and their singular lingo are as catchy as a conga line. ”The first time I heard ‘money’ used, Spike Lee was saying it. He was calling Michael Jordan ‘money’ in this Nike commercial,” Favreau explains. ”But it wasn’t until I met Vince [on the set of 1993’s Rudy] that somebody else was using it.” In Swing-ese, women are honeys or babies (”Totally, straight up Sinatra,” Favreau says); to be thwarted is to be shaqed (”Like O’Neal, ’cause he’s a big defensive player”); and cool guys are rounders (”Someone who’s not square,” says Vaughn, who explains it’s a term from country music).
”The whole thing was to make it look like GoodFellas, but when you hear what they’re talking about, they’re geeks,” says Favreau. The lingo almost got shaqed when early backers didn’t get it. ”It was the first thing everybody wanted to change,” says Favreau. But he stuck it out — even rebuffing a $3 million deal so Vaughn could play the knavish character he inspired. Now the boys have really hit happy hour: Vaughn’s costarring in Steven Spielberg’s sure-thing The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2, and in February, Miramax shoots the pair in their sophomore effort, The Marshal of Revelation, about a Hasidic gunfighter. (”I don’t think there were any, but if there were, they would have been very good,” says Favreau.) Everything’s money. Except their love lives. ”I’ve dug myself such a hole with Trent,” Vaughn sighs. ”This thing’s gonna kill me with girls.”