How we met: Guy Ritchie & Matthew Vaughn

Y. Veronica Blake
Saturday 19 June 1999 23:02 BST

Guy Ritchie, 30, grew up in Fulham. He left school at 15 and worked at Island Records. Five years ago, despite being dyslexic, he began to write a film script. The result, `Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', which he also directed, was released to much acclaim. He won the `Evening Standard' award for Most Promising Newcomer for his directing

Matthew Vaughn, 28, was educated at Stowe and University College, London. He worked for a producer in Hollywood before teaming up with Guy Ritchie to set up a production company, Ska, in London. It them took 15 months to secure backing for `Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'. A second comedy, `Diamonds', is in production

GUY RITCHIE: I met Matthew in 1995 through a friend of mine who owned a Champagne oyster bar in Soho. Matthew told him he was a producer, so my friend told him a few lies about me and my script. Matthew called me up and said he was interested, and two days after I sent him the script he rang to say, "We'll make this film." For the next two years we both dropped everything to concentrate on making it.

Vaughn's quite an interesting character. Straight away he looked like someone who could do the job; he's got very thick skin. I had loads of fits on set that he didn't react to in the slightest - he'd yawn halfway through!

The most important ingredient in our friendship is that we both have the same goals, although I'm more creatively motivated and Matthew is more business- minded. It's a good balance. We can brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other. I wouldn't say he inspires me but he's a very good sounding board. He doesn't mince his words, which I like - I'm not sensitive about things like that. If he thinks it's a crap idea and I think it's a good idea, I'm not bothered if he doesn't agree. I'll still go ahead and do it. But most of the time we agree. We also have the same taste in films - Badlands, La Dolce Vita, Cool Hand Luke, Tombstone.

We don't argue about women. He's got a girlfriend, I don't. I'm too busy at the moment, but I'm perfectly happy with that. Birdwise that's not a problem, not at all. When we sold a few copies of the soundtrack, Madonna rang saying she loved it and ask if she could release it on her label, Maverick. She wined and dined us a few times in Hollywood. But the press got it wrong about her. It was Matthew she fancied, not me, and he's fancied her rotten for years.

Vaughn does know his way around Hollywood. He puts on his business cap when he goes over there. I wasn't over there for long, although I'm sure I'll make a film there at some stage. We work better under pressure; I fancy a bit of pressure. I don't want to get too fat. When we did Lock, Stock, we worked really hard together and we were both on set most of the time, which is where we both like being.

At the weekends, we used to go shooting. The three of us - me, Vaughn and Vinnie [Jones] - share a common love of country pursuits. We also love fishing. I'm not a squire but I do like my country pursuits. I'm not that familiar with the leisure activities surrounding the industry. I don't know that much about it. I've still got the same old pals and they're not part of that set.

MATTHEW VAUGHN: I met Guy through a friend who was involved in financing the business side of a restaurant. The chef was Ed Bains, a mate of Guy's. Ed told me about this friend of his who'd co-written a brilliant script with Peter Shaffer, and that I'd got to read it. That was on a Friday. I spent the weekend with a friend in the country and read Guy's script. It was all over the place. It had no ending and no real structure, but it was a diamond. The roughest diamond I'd ever come across but I loved it. It had so much energy and was so strong, funny, clever, new and original.

I rang Guy and he acted out scenes over the phone to me and brought it to life even more. Then we met up and he told me he wanted to direct it, which was like a shot through my heart, because getting a first-time director off the ground is a pain. So together we went through the long tortuous route of trying to get the film made, which was hell on earth but eventually paid off. Filming is like living with someone: you either end up hating each other or loving each other. With us it was the latter.

We've got the same goals, which helps, and we share common values, like not putting up with bullshit and being able to sense it a mile off. Guy's got even less time for it than me. We're not interested in getting knee- deep in claret. We're basically country lads.

We've become very good friends and we've got a lot of common interests, which is quite surprising. It turns out that our families have mutual friends: it's a very small world we live in.

Guy can be emotional, so can I, but I hide it better than him. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. I keep them very deep down. I can ride the wave better than him sometimes, but things can get to me as well. Being a producer, you have to deal with all the problems but you have to appear as if nothing panics you. We've had the odd fight but nothing too serious and it's never come to blows - I'd be out the door before that was going to happen. I'm not stupid, look at the size of him!

The only thing that ever pisses me off about Guy is his memory. I say to him, "Look, do this" and he goes, "Yeah", but then 10 minutes later he's forgotten totally. There have been times when that's created a lot more work but, you know, it's not a major complaint, and it hasn't got in the way of our friendship. My memory's got a bit worse since knowing him - I had the best memory in the world until I met Guy.

From the day we finally went into pre-production on Lock, Stock, it's been a barrel of laughs. We all got on so well. Guy and me could share a flat if it was big enough. I can see our friendship and working relationship lasting for many years. We've both got long-term views. We've discussed money and what we do when it comes in. We both know quite a lot of people who've had a lot of money and blown it, so we're going to try and learn from their mistakes.

We share that hunger to succeed but we're not going to be too changed by success. It wouldn't really change what we're doing, our attitude, or even our lifestyle that much. You have to think big. It's a cliche that you'll land higher if you aim higher. Both Guy and I like the idea of either being a huge success or giant failures. We don't want to be in the middle ground.

`Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' is now on video

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