Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn & Peter Billingsley: Friends & Frequent Collaborators

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Favreau, Vaughn & Billingsley

Term Life
Focus World

Crime thriller Term Life will be released in limited theaters and on VOD on April 29. Based on the 2011 graphic novel by A.J. Lieberman and Nick Thornborrow, Term Life stars Vince Vaughn as a criminal father who is trying to dodge the various people who want him dead in order to make sure his life insurance will pay out for his daughter (Haliee Steinfeld). The film is directed by Peter Billingsley – yes, you know him best as Ralphie from A Christmas Story – and features actor/director Jon Favreau in a supporting role. What you probably don't know is that Vaughn, Billingsley, and Favreau are friends and frequent collaborators, and Vaughn and Billingsley are production partners in Wild West Films, which releases many of their collaborations (including Term Life).

Vaughn met Billingsley when they co-starred in the 1990 CBS Schoolbreak Special TV movie The Fourth Man, a movie about a high school student who abuses steroids. A few years later, Favreau and Vaughn first met on the set of Rudy, the popular 1993 biopic about the Notre Dame football underdog. Favreau had a supporting role in the movie as Rudy's close friend, while Vaughn had a minor speaking role as one of Rudy's teammates. The three actors/filmmakers have been working together ever since, collaborating on both small projects,  huge Hollywood blockbusters, and even Favreau’s popular film talk show Dinner for Five (which Billingsley co-produced).

The three have been working together ever since. Before Term Life, here are some of the trio’s most memorable collaborations with one another.

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Swingers (1996)


After striking a friendship on the set of Rudy, Favreau and Vaughn starred in this low-budget comedy about out-of-work actors navigating through Hollywood and acting as wingmen for one another in their love lives. In addition to starring, Favreau wrote the script, which was widely acclaimed and launched Vaughn's career as a big-name actor. Swingers is still regarded by many as one of the classic comedies of the 1990s.

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Made (2001)

Artisan Entertainment

Made is something of a "spiritual sequel" to Swingers, but this time Favreau wrote, directed, and produced the film in addition to starring alongside Vaughn. Vaughn and Billingsley also produced the film with Favreau. In this mafia comedy, Favreau plays Bobby, a down-on-his-luck boxer and construction worker who agrees to serve as muscle for a mob boss for some quick cash. He brings along his unreliable friend Ricky (Vaughn), he causes him nothing but headaches. Though not as successful as Swingers, Made is a solid directorial debut for Favreau.

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Elf (2003)

New Line Cinema

The Will Ferrell Christmas comedy Elf has become a holiday classic, and it’s no surprise that Favreau, who directed the film, cast Billingsley in the small, uncredited role of the elf foreman Ming Ming. After all, Billingsley himself is the star of a classic Christmas movie, and perhaps his appearance lent a little extra holiday magic to the film. Perhaps that’s one reason why Elf became such a critical and commercial hit.

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The Break-Up (2006)

The Break-Up
Universal Pictures

The Break-Up, a romantic comedy about a couple going through a disastrous break-up starring Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, was a huge hit when it was released in the summer of 2006. In a casting decision that shouldn't surprise anyone at this point, Favreau was cast as Vaughn's character to best friend. Vaughn co-wrote the story for the film and produced the movie with Billingsley. Billingsley also appears in a small role in the film.

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Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man
Paramont Pictures

The huge success of Iron Man proved that Elf was no fluke for Favreau as a director of box office hits. It’s fair to credit Favreau for laying the groundwork for Disney’s multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. In addition to directing Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in this superhero blockbuster, Favreau also portrayed Stark's chauffer/bodyguard Happy Hogan in the movie while also serving as an executive producer. Also serving as an executive producer was Billingsley, who plays the small role of a scientist in the movie.

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Four Christmases (2008)

Four Christmases
New Line Cinema

Though not as a big of hit critically or commercially as Elf, Four Christmases brought Vaughn, Favreau, and Billingsley back together again for another successful comedy. Vaughn co-stars with Reese Witherspoon as a couple who are forced to visit both sets of their divorced parents' families for the holidays despite their desire to avoid them all. Favreau plays Vaughn's brother, and Billingsley appears in a small role as an airline ticket agent (he also served as executive producer).

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Couples Retreat (2009)

Couples Retreat
Universal Pictures

After working as a producer on many of Favreau and Vaughn’s projects, Billingsley finally made his feature directorial debut with the comedy Couples Retreat. Of course, he brought along Vaughn and Favreau to not only star in the movie, but to co-write the screenplay about stressed-out couples who go to a resort for therapy only to discover it's not what they expected. Like The Break-Up, Couples Retreat was a box office success.