How to Fear Less: Vince Vaughn (#243)

“Fear is more crippling than the actual consequences.”

– Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaughn (@WildWest) is one of the most prolific actors, writers, and producers in the world. He’s acted in more than thirty major motion pictures that have gone on to gross more than 1.7 billion at the box office. He is largely credited for redefining the R-rated comedy with his performance in the 2005 hit Wedding Crashers, which set the record for highest grossing R-rated comedy at the time. He is — and will continue to be, I expect — one of the most sought-after leading men in Hollywood.

As a listener to this podcast, Vince reached out with his production company Wild West to see if we might do a TV show together. The result is Fear{less} with Tim Ferriss — “less” is in parentheses because the objective is to teach you to fear less, not to be fearless. More details about the show can be found at Or, if you want to watch the entire first episode with performance artist David Blaine (@davidblaine), you can see it here or visit [Ed. note: First episode with David Blaine now redirects to YouTube.]

I had the chance to catch up with Vince at Vulture Festival in New York City. In this conversation, we get into stories of his early beginnings, how to negotiate, his cold-calling career, and important decisions he’s made as a producer, an artist, and a businessperson. I had a blast doing this, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#243: How to Fear Less -- Vince Vaughn

Want to hear another podcast with a comedian, actor, and director? — Listen to my conversation with Jon Favreau. In this episode, we discuss his writing process, daily routines, how to create films that redefine categories, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#71: The Master Creator - How Jon Favreau Went from Swingers to Elf to Ironman to Chef

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • How Vince and I initially connected. [09:21]
  • Vince talks about childhood and early lessons he learned from his parents. [11:09]
  • Vince asks a lot of questions. Where did his curiosity originate? [15:19]
  • I share the traumatic experience that kept me from learning to swim until my thirties. [16:43]
  • Vince shares a traumatic experience from his high school days and what it taught him. [19:37]
  • The role of sports — particularly wrestling — in Vince’s development. [22:08]
  • On the process of developing grit. [27:33]
  • Vince talks about his young life as a telemarketer. [28:25]
  • My first job out of college was smiling and dialing. [33:11]
  • Did an academically disinclined Vince become class president in high school as a form of graduation insurance? [35:46]
  • Vince talks about sharpening his acting chops with improvisational legend Del Close. [40:13]
  • What separates good improvisation from great improvisation? [42:53]
  • Why did Vince decide to leave Chicago for Los Angeles? [44:43]
  • How did Vince make ends meet early in his acting career? [49:23]
  • Priceless lessons in hustle from an underprivileged friend. [50:03]
  • Vince Vaughn’s fight club. [54:07]
  • Advice for beginning actors coping with rejection. [56:55]
  • What is screen testing? [59:15]
  • Microfailures as an inoculation against rejection. [1:01:49]
  • Maintaining motivation by “always going back to white belt.” [1:02:17]
  • Why this podcast is an anomaly. [1:03:42]
  • How did Swingers come to be? Was it strictly scripted or heavily improvised? [1:05:27]
  • Was there ever any doubt during the filming of Swingers that the project would be completed? [1:12:41]
  • On working with and learning from Steven Spielberg. [1:16:41]
  • Why does Vince think Wedding Crashers was such a success in spite of its R rating? [1:19:04]
  • What made The Break-Up different from other movies Vince had done up to that point? [1:22:59]
  • Reassurances and tactical practicalities learned by looking over Vince’s career. [1:26:55]
  • Finding tone in storytelling. [1:28:58]
  • What Ben Franklin understood about expanding comfort zones and the art of the hustle. [1:30:42]
  • “Fear is more crippling than the actual consequences.” [1:35:29]
  • What would Vince’s billboard say? [1:37:15]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:38:39]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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23 Replies to “How to Fear Less: Vince Vaughn (#243)”

  1. Tim,

    Been listening to your podcast for over a year. This one was near and dear to my heart. Swingers came out when I was 22 and just got divorced after a 6 month marriage to my college sweetheart. The story resonated in several ways: just trying to start a career, just lost a girl and had no clue about approach women outside of the safe area of college. I didn’t feel alone after watching it.

    Vince’s movies have always had impact on me. Working as a manufacturers’ representative to hear him talk about his Dad’s experience pitching toys was fantastic. In many ways Vince is a voice of a generation. His characters have a great authenticity. After listening to the podcast his curiousity, questioning and listening skills are amazing. Thanks for the great work and fantastic show.

    1. Robert,

      Wow that’s so neat that this movie that was difficult for him to actually make helped you feel less alone in life 🙂 I didn’t think of it like that. I do agree that Vince is unapplogetically authentic though.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment

      Clay Steadman

  2. Vince Vaughn is fantastic. Always thought he’d be the perfect actor to play the famous conman Titanic Thompson.

  3. If the objective is to “fear less” then please call it FEAR LESS and stop with the stupid not made for TV name.

      1. I have tried watching it on Chrome and Safari – there is no video that comes up just a blank video box? Would love to watch it – any suggestions?

  4. Listening to Vince Vaughn’s recollection of prank calling karate studios to challenge the Grand Master to deal with his “emotional dragons” made me remember why his comedy disrupted movie norms when Swingers was released.

    I also loved the interview with David Blaine on your new show Fear{less} Capitivating interviews lead to dramatic and intriguing entertainment. Thank you Tim and Vince for daring to be different.

    1. Shawn,

      I was cracking up about those prank calls! How hilarious is it that he was willing to work on his comedy all the time, even for an audience of one. He just like to do funny things and that’s why he is so good.

      I love the way you phrased that “captivating interviews lead to dramatic and intriguing entertainment” well said! And I totally agree 🙂 thanks for taking the time to comment

      With gratitude,

      Clay Steadman

  5. Hey Tim,

    Just wondering now that you have started the TV show, will you stop doing the podcasts or at least taking a hiatus? I have not been able to watch the show but it appears from the commercials to be similar to the podcasts. I love the podcasts and hope they are not going anywhere!

  6. Wow! That was awesome 🙂

    How interesting that both of you found such value in wrestling. And how crazy is it to hear Vince talk seriously for a couple hours.

    Idk about everyone else but I got crazy excited about fear{less}. It was as if one of my close friends landed the show, very interesting. Congratulations Tim! Way to hold off until the right TV deal came.

    What I loved about this:

    1. Vince’s emphasis on downtime to listen your true self

    2. The fear is greeter than the consequences

    3. Both Tim’s and Vince’s passion to help more people really shined

    4. How interested Vince is in other people

    5. The little unedited flaws in both guys to make them more real

    Possible Suggestions:

    1. Maybe a conpetition on the interviewee’s call to action for the audience (like the trip around the world for person in the class that contacts the most hard to reach person from 4HWW)

    2. Maybe add some photos from the interview on this page to spark some more interest (or a photo of you choking Vince out)

    Wow that’s it lol, serisously so pumped about this whole thing! Great job both of you and thank you for taking the time to do this.

    With Gratitude,

    Clay Steadman

    PS: Wedding Crashers is my all time favorite movie haha

  7. The quote you are pondering this week from FIVE BULLET FRIDAY I think is another great reason wrestling/grappling are great for people:

    “When your sparring partner scratches or head-butts you, you don’t then make a show of it, or protest, or view him with suspicion or as plotting against you. And yet you keep an eye on him, not as an enemy or with suspicion, but with a healthy avoidance…. You should act this way with all things in life. We should give a pass to many things with our fellow trainees. For, as I’ve said, it’s possible to avoid without suspicion or hate.”

    — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.20 (Found in The Daily Stoic)

  8. Thank you for the interview with David Blane. It was excellent. And how awesome that Vince Vaughn is involved. He’s amazing. Thanks again. You rock!!

  9. Hi Tim,

    How active are you during your fasts? As far as physical/exercise activity. I am working my way to fasts longer than 72hrs, but I am feeling fatigue particularly in my knees on the tail end, and I can only assume it’s because I work at a gym 4-5 days a week, along with traveling with the band I am in. A lot of moving around 7 days a week. I’m still doing research for myself to find what works, but I wanted to get some feedback from you.

    Tools of Titans and 4 Hour Body have been big tools for myself in the past few months.



  10. Love these kind of episodes, not merely because Vince is famous: you don’t often see what’s behind a widely popular actor in terms of how they think (about life, career, etc). Kudos to both. Great interviews are often more a conversation than an actual interview!

  11. Thanks Tim and Vince. Some great stories wheeled out here! Vince and selling for orphans, and I valued hearing more insights on Tim’s early cold-calling and corporate experience. Micro failures, and importance of them – noted! And I wanted to say Tim that that your writing and angst around “jack of all trades and master of none” resonated deeply with how my head works. I loved that episode back in the day…

    To share with all this is podcast in-betweenisode #19

  12. Well said about fear is more crippling than the actual consequences. I used to fear about presenting in front of many people during my younger years and it really affects on how you do things.

  13. Unfortunately, I didn’t really gain much insight from this interview, it just seemed like two guys having a chat about stuff.

    Don’t understand all the celebrity fawning comments on here.

  14. Hi Tim.

    I’ve long been admirer of your work and interviews.

    This interview with VV was really one of your best.

    I’ve been a massive fan and admirer of VV for such a long time so it was joy to get to hear you guys riff.

    I want to say a massive thank you for brining such awesome inspiration.

    I’ve been struggling a lot lately.

    Both physically and thus mentally.

    So having these conversations was a God send.

    Thank you Thank you Thank you.

    Keep it up.

    Much love and peace,

    Marty W

  15. I like how this podcast twice has completely changed my perception of actors.

    First Arnold and now Vince. I had respect for them before, but a whole lot more, when I heard them talk about their fears, challenges and past.

    Having clocked in 60+ of your podcasts and read almost all your books (Four Hour Body is still unread, for some reason), I hope you continue to do these podcasts.

    May I suggest Ken Robinson as a guest?