Owen Wilson Interview – ‘The Internship’ – “You don’t wind up at military school because you are a perfectly behaved child, but I wasn’t like a juvenile delinquent or anything.”
Owen Wilson, 44, stars in The Internship, along with his buddy Vince Vaughn, with whom he starred in Wedding Crashers. The quirky comic actor has been in such blockbusters as the Meet the Parents franchise, Zoolander, Starsky & Hutch, You, Me and Dupree, Marley & Me, and Midnight in Paris. Owen lives with long-time girlfriend Jade Duell, with whom he is raising their son, Robert, born January 2011. He was formerly in an on-again off-again relationship with Kate Hudson (during a time he allegedly attempted suicide), and before that, was in a relationship with Sheryl Crow.
Q: What is this about you and Vince Vaughn that makes us laugh? We see a picture of you and he’s towering above you.
He’s got me by half a foot maybe. I don’t know. It’s probably just kind of an energy you get. Some people you get revved up when you are around them. And with Vince, you’ve got to be revved up because you know he’s going to be revved up. So it’s almost like trying to keep up.
Q: How is your digital world?
It’s funny. I’m still thinking about Bottle Rocket, (laughter) because I am thinking about the passage of time and because people have been asking me that today, like, do you feel like a dinosaur? Do you feel relevant? It’s odd. And I’m like, what do you mean, of course. But you realize that if they are asking it…. (laughs)
Q: Presumably you do not feel like a dinosaur in your 40s?
I didn’t today, until I have been getting hit with all these questions, but no, I don’t. Age is just a number.
Q: What kind of kid were you?
A little Owen. I was slightly mischievous, but Tom Sawyer type trouble. You don’t wind up at military school because you are a perfectly behaved child, but I wasn’t like a juvenile delinquent or anything. I was kind of normal, getting into trouble and stuff, but part of it was being the middle of three. There’s also a syndrome with the middle child. You don’t have a clear role I guess. So, yeah, there’s an element of, ‘Get a load of me!’ (laughs) But all my brothers, we all had some similar trouble in school. We were a handful for our parents. But, yeah, where I grew up was great.
when you were a child?
Well I didn’t think movies were possible. You would see movies and love movies, but the possibility of being an actor and working in Hollywood would have sounded ridiculous. People would have laughed at you. So I probably thought I would have done what my dad did, go into advertising or something, or writing.
Q: What if your son says in twenty years that he wants to become an actor?
Well geez, I think it would be hard. There will always be movies but it just seems like in the entertainment industry the odds are stacked so much against you that it seems like that could be kind of difficult. You would be dealing with a lot of rejection. And it’s something out of your hands, being an actor, how people respond. You can work all you want, but people might just not like what you are doing. But if you wanted to be like a cinematographer and to me, as a parent, you probably want to protect your child from being hurt.
Q: What kind of Google tools do you use?
I am not super computer literate so I still haven’t figured out how to do the map type stuff. Oh wait, that’s not true, I was able to do it on my IPad when I was just in Paris. I could type in something and sort of trace the route that I was going to take. I was in San Paolo and at the Formula One race and I was Googling and stuff.
Q: Are you tech savvy to a certain extent?
No, I wouldn’t describe myself as that tech savvy but I would like to become more tech savvy.
I want to be relevant. (laughter)
Q: It’s nice to be old school and not tech savvy these days; it’s almost like a white tiger.
Yeah, I know.
Q: What makes you happiest? Do you have hobbies? What’s fun for you? You make other people laugh so much.
Thank you. I like going to the ocean and surfing. I love competition, games like ping pong or tennis, or let’s see who can throw rocks and hit that tree over there, and maybe from growing up as one of three boys, I love backgammon, dominos, I can get into any type of games. I notice with even my two year old, I will look forward to the time when he can kind of start to play stuff, but so I have fun doing that. Aren’t those questions always a little bit like those Playboy centrefold questions, like “turn ons” (laughter), I like the ocean, sunsets, candlelight dinners.
Q: Are you a good loser?
I am. Well I did have to make a rule because I had thrown my tennis racket which was very babyish behaviour. But I think I am not one of those people because I know that type of person who is so competitive, they can’t do things because they don’t like losing but if you were a little bit better than me at ping pong, I would want to play you, cause it’s the challenge. So, I am certainly not scared, I don’t mind losing. It’s actually more satisfying than if you could beat somebody who is a little bit better.
I was talking earlier about my dad when he started off on his own, somebody telling him he will be surprised where help comes from, and the place that he thought he could rely on for new business and they actually didn’t hire him. I think that’s sort of like a good thing that you will be surprised where help comes from in your life, and being open to the idea of having a sort of mentor. Mentors, and the idea that you can’t dismiss anybody. I do agree with Mark Twain quote that there’s no such thing as a boring life, every life has a comedy, drama and a tragedy. And the idea that you do need help, everybody, we are social, a human animal.
Q: Of course girls love funny guys. Do you think that’s automatically true?
Well it does seem like the one characteristic that everybody gives themselves credit for, is a sense of humour, and so yeah, everybody likes to laugh, but I wouldn’t describe myself as…. I wasn’t like the class clown in school or anything, but yeah, if you can get laughing with anybody, that’s usually a great sign. So if you can get laughing with a girl if you are on the same page about something and I think they say that laughter releases endorphins, and if it’s someone that can genuinely make you laugh, that feels really good. It’s just sort of a case by case thing. (laughter)
Q: What makes you laugh? Bill Murray?
Yeah. Will Ferrell definitely makes me laugh. And Vince, it doesn’t even have to be in movies, just real life, Vince kind of gets on a roll, and it’s very unique.
Q: Do you believe laughter can heal a broken heart or the soul?
Laughter? Well weren’t we talking about endorphins and stuff? Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to like Patch Adams, (laughter) God forbid I get diagnosed with some serious illness. I think I would rather have a really good doctor, the doctor is kind of incompetent. Like, ‘hey what’s this, this stethoscope?’ I think I am going to choose the more sober, serious doctor. But for sure, laughter is a way to sort of cope with life and of course that’s a huge thing.
Q: Do you like cerebral humor more than slapstick?
Well I would like to think that I have a very sophisticated sense of humor, but I know that sometimes I can be flipping through the channels and it can be like that show Americas Funniest Home Videos or I’ll start chuckling when I’m watching Beavis and Butthead and you realize that however witty or urbane you think you are, you still kind of respond sometimes in spite of yourself sometimes to that kind of humor.
Q: Is there anywhere where you wouldn’t cross the line?
Yeah, there might be things that you could joke about with a friend that really knows you, that maybe you couldn’t say, just because things are sort of politically correct, you don’t want to be cruel or kind of mean. And you see the way humor kind of changes too, so something that they could have had in the 70s, a funny scene that wow, that wouldn’t quite work today.
Q: So do you sing along in a car?
Yeah. I can sing.
Q: What songs do you sing along to?
Well, it depends what’s playing on the radio. I can get into Eagles songs playing or Guns and Roses, but I don’t have a good voice. And you would never catch me singing if you were riding with me. But if I were by myself, or if the music is loud enough where you can’t hear my voice, I will sing underneath it. Or if my kid is in the car, I might sing to try and make him laugh.
Q. What is the last thing you Googled?
Yeah, I guess I Google ESPN to kind of check the scores and things and or some kind of news item and it’s almost like a personal thing like Googling, I would think it’s a slight invasion of privacy to Google somebody before you went out with them. But now I realize that people do that. They do Google you. But I would still feel that it’s like, if we were going to go out for a drink and I was like, let me Google this girl, (laughter) it would be kind of creepy. Like you shouldn’t be doing that, but I guess in this age you are supposed to do that. You should, because I will have somebody say to me, oh yeah, they will tell me something and oh, okay.
Q: Have you ever had a date where you were an asshole like you are in the movie?
I don’t really have that side to me where I would find it hard to be mean to somebody so I couldn’t do that, but I am sure there has been times unintentionally where I have been probably thoughtless or somebody has perceived something that’s dumb, but I can’t imagine doing something mean.
Q: The movie is also about second chances. Did you ever happen to be in the same situation?
Yeah. I think that with, I got (laughs) like a second chance in high school in which they didn’t kick me out of school, but then later in the year they did kick me out of school. So I think everybody needs second chances, because nobody is perfect so you are always going to be making mistakes, but I think the question is really a second act. There’s not many people that get to have life to kind of doing one thing and then start something a little bit later in life and be successful, and glad or fulfilled by it. So I haven’t had that chance because I managed to do okay in this. But maybe at some point it would be fun to try something else. But yeah, I have been pretty lucky though with, I have fun doing what I am doing.
Q: What does it mean to you to work once again with Vince?
It seems to me that, well with Wedding Crashers, that was a movie that we had, we were exhausted when we were finished because we worked really hard and we were always kind of pushing each other to try and make the scenes as funny as possible, or as good. And then it was nice when the movie came out and people responded to it. So I guess it was just nice that you are going to kind of work with somebody who is a friend and you are going to have some good laughs and sort of be inspired to kind of try to do good stuff.
Q: When was the last time that you saw the sunrise?
I’m trying to think of where I had been awake to see the sunrise from the night before. I can’t say I see a lot of sunrises. I should probably be going to bed earlier and waking up to see that. I guess when I was in Paris a few weeks ago, I had to get up early to catch my flight and when I got up it was like a little bit of snow, and the streets are kind of empty and Paris looks very beautiful particularly, and sort of empty.
Q: What do you like the most about Paris and how did that impression change when you were making Midnight in Paris?
I know when I was making the movie, I was thinking like gosh, wouldn’t it be great if this movie did well? Because then I feel like I would always be almost welcomed in Paris and I would be like an honorary citizen. And then the movie got a good reception, and I hadn’t been back until a month ago when I went back and it was nice going back, and you see people that are like, we saw the movie and we are here because we saw the movie and at the hotel that we filmed, they always have the movie on a 24 loop, so then you encounter people that are almost irritated by it, (laughter) like, ‘Jesus, you again?! We have been watching you non-stop, we can’t get away from you!’ (laughter)
ENDS/VIVA PRESS 2013