Vince Vaughn is the first to tell you that his new film, The Cell, is more style than substance. In fact, when the Swingers actor first read the script ? which finds him and Jennifer Lopez venturing into the mind of a deranged serial killer ? he was lost.

"To me, it didn't make a lot of sense story-wise," he says of the visually stunning thriller, which opens tomorrow. But then Vaughn met with the film's director, Tarsem (best known for directing R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" video), and he was able to connect the disturbing dots. "He was so specifically passionate about his vision that he actually had to put paintings up as sort of a starting-off point," he marvels. "I thought it was original and pioneering in that way."

And like his role in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Vaughn knew going into The Cell that "the actors were there to serve the effects. But I think that the effects are different than a lot of special effects. They are so original that it leaves a stronger impression on you than big explosions or more realistic violence. It's almost like a great art-house film."

The Cell marks the first time Vaughn has worked with Lopez, and he admits that he had preconceived notions about his headline-grabbing co-star. And for all intents and purposes, those perceptions were confirmed. "I have to tell you this about Jennifer, I think that she's a great actress," he says. "Selena and Out of Sight and all the stuff I've seen her in... I think she's very good. So I was excited [to work with her]."

Vaughn didn't ask Lopez for any tips about working with her rapper beau, Sean "Puffy" Combs, with whom he co-stars in the upcoming film, Made. But for his part, Combs more than cut it as a thespian. "He did a really good job," Vaughn says of the artist's big-screen acting debut. "Sean's a really hard worker and a really ambitious guy and he was always there on time."

Then again, Combs didn't have to endure the kind of torture that Vaughn did in The Cell. In fact, in one scene, the actor's FBI agent character literally has his insides ripped out. "That was a pain in the ass," groans Vaughn of the sequence, which no doubt will have audiences squirming in their seats. "We had to shoot that for about two days and redo it over and over. I kept saying to Tarsem, 'You don't understand. I haven't [had my] coffee and I'm not happy.' "