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Sunday 3rd October, 2004
Matthew Vaughn moves out of the shadows cast by his cover model wife Claudia Schiffer and his famous collaborator Guy Ritchie with his directorial debut "Layer Cake". which opened Friday in the UK.
"I've made the right decision because it's a natural step for me to direct, but it's unnatural for me to have the association directors sometimes have of being pushed into the limelight," Vaughn said.

The 33-year-old native of Suffolk in eastern England produced Ritchie's first three movies, building his reputation on the success of "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch," and avoiding the critical smearing that washed over Madonna "Swept Away."

"Layer Cake" is a crime caper about a drug dealer trying to escape the London underworld in which he lives, and is largely styled on Michael Mann's Los Angeles thriller "Heat."

But rather than devote time talking about the creative process behind his films, Vaughn takes great pride instead in the financial returns he has made his backers, and names billionaire "Star Wars" mogul George Lucas as a role model.

Vaughn's obsession is so deep, in fact, that friends call his UK country home "Ska-walker Ranch," a play on Ska Films, the name of his and Ritchie's production company, and Lucas' California compound Skywalker Ranch.

"Lock, Stock" made about $80 million globally, including box office, video and other sources, and cost less than $2 million. Similarly, "Snatch" made about $150 million on a $15 million budget. "Layer Cake" cost about $7.5 million.

"A lot of producers don't give a monkey about the budget, they don't care if the film makes money, all they care about is they've got their fee and they've made another film," he said. "I think that's insulting. That's like a restaurateur who doesn't care about his food."

By putting down the ledger to move behind the camera though, Vaughn has made a bold business move, one that is virtually unprecedented. Many actors and directors become producers but it rarely happens the other way around.

"I'm trying to shatter this myth about directors," Vaughn said. "It's just film, a camera and actors in front of it. It's quite simple.

"I've never directed anything, and it's turned out better than I ever hoped it would. And it did prove my point that directing is about having a good script, a good crew, confidence, good actors and working as a team."

Though he has nothing lined up for his next project, Vaughn says he has held talks about being the director on the next James Bond film. His long association with Sony Pictures could help, as the Japanese-owned company is poised to buy MGM, the studio behind the Bond franchise.

He would welcome the massive budget, the chance to work in Hollywood -- and an opportunity to fade back into the shadows.

"The next film I do, I want to have a huge movie star because they do all this publicity stuff better than anyone else," Vaughn said. "I'm used to everyone looking at the person on my left or on my right and I feel comfortable with that, so bring on Brad Pitt for my next movie."

"Directing? Piece of cake dahling"

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