In movies like Wedding Crashers and Swingers, Vince Vaughn talks a mile a minute. Offscreen, he’s a man of decidedly few words – especially when it comes to his girlfriend Jennifer Aniston. Vaughn rarely gabs about their year-long relationship, even to pals. “He’d rather talk about sports and beer,” says one.
Until Oct. 16, that is, when he reacted chivalrously to tabloid reports that he and his costar in The Break-Up had, indeed, broken up. In London filming the comedy Fred Claus, Vaughn, 36, phoned his lawyers, who issued a statement saying the actor was “the partner of Jennifer Aniston” and would be filing a “legal complaint” against The Sun, the Daily Mirror and the New York Post, which ran stories alleging the pair were on the rocks. Furthermore, “Ms. Aniston and Mr. Vaughn had not ended their relationship either at the material time [of the articles] or since.”
Translation: Jen and Vince are still going strong. Across the pond, Aniston, 37, was denying a rift on Oprah, telling Winfrey, “No, no,” when asked about a split and adding sweetly that Vaughn was “a regular guy.” For the two stars, who are famously reluctant to even acknowledge their relationship publicly, such declarations are practically Shakespearean love sonnets. And they come even as the pair weather an extended period apart. (Vaughn will be in England filming through December, while Aniston has been at home in L.A.) “Vince and Jen are fine despite the distance,” a friend says of the couple. “Don’t believe the hype.”
So was there any truth to rumors of trouble in paradise? At least one friend of Vaughn’s does say the couple experienced a “cooling off” period late last summer over where to take the relationship. Still, they are now making it clear that they’re hanging in. And they are not thrilled by rumors about the so-called “mystery blonde” Vaughn was photographed embracing in London Oct. 8.
British tabs spun the snapshot into an indiscretion, but Vaughn was actually just giving a goodbye peck to Kate Pakenham, the happily married producer of 24 Hour Plays, an Old Vic benefit that Vaughn had participated in that day. Says an Old Vic source: “This is causing some degree of hilarity around the office.”
Clearly, Vaughn wasn’t laughing. “The suggestion that he was having a passionate embrace and kiss, or has ever been unfaithful to Ms. Aniston, [is] false,” said his attorneys. Aniston pal David Arquette also defended Vaughn, telling L.A.’s KYSR-FM the rumors were “complete horse doo-doo.”
That sorted, Vaughn and Aniston are keeping busy while apart. Vaughn was the life of the 24 Hour Plays afterparty, staying past 1 a.m. “He seemed quite happy,” says a guest. Ditto for Aniston, who enjoyed a lively dinner Oct. 10 with Oprah Winfrey and four pals at Chicago restaurant Japonais and then lit up an Oct. 16 L.A. bash for Room 10, the short film she codirected with friend Andrea Buchanan as part of the Glamour Reel Moments series. “The whole night, she was surrounded by a circle of people,” says a guest. “She looked really, really happy.”
Obviously, a full schedule suits her. Aniston will take part in a 24 Hour Plays benefit in New York City on Oct 23. And though Vince is away, she’s also got a new friend in her life: Dolly, a 5-month-old German shepherd. Initially, Aniston told Oprah, her corgi-terrier mix Norman “was not into it.” But her beloved Norman, she said, has had a change of heart: “Now he’s in love.”
• By Jason Lynch. Bryan Alexander, Lisa Ingrassia and Lycia Naff in Los Angeles, Simon Perry and Courtney Rubin in London, Lauren Comander and Barbara Sandler in Chicago and KC Baker in New York City