By far, the most laid-back interview room I’ve walked into this year was Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson teamed up to talk about their new animated family comedy, “Free Birds.”
Wilson plays Reggie, who is an oddball in the turkey world as the film opens. He lives on a turkey farm, and he is well aware of what the endgame is regarding their existence. He knows that they are served as food, and he knows that Thanksgiving is the great enemy. When he is picked to become the Presidentially Pardoned Turkey one year, he goes home with the President and his little girl and settles in for a life of comfort, learning to love delivery pizza and television.
That’s when Jake (Harrelson) shows up, a big strong dumb turkey who has a plan and a crazy story to tell. His crazy story turns out to be right, though, and he and Reggie steal a time machine with one explicit purpose: go back in history and stop the Pilgrims from making turkey the centerpiece of the original Thanksgiving.
It’s a big silly idea, and Owen Wilson seems like the right call to voice Reggie. It’s the sort of role where you want a Woody Allen type, the brainy nebbish who is hyper-aware of his situation. Wilson sounds like Wilson in the movie, but for some reason, Woody Harrelson doesn’t sound like himself at all. I’m used to Harrelson’s voice always pretty much sounding like Harrelson’s voice. I like him a lot as an actor, but I wouldn’t call him a chameleon. Harrelson doesn’t vanish into roles. Like Wilson, he’s a guy who has made a career out of developing a very specific persona. Harrelson plays a broader range of roles, but there’s still a type that they’re casting him for in most cases, and that’s fine. That’s how actors make a place for themselves in the industry. You don’t want an Owen Wilson type. You want Owen Wilson. You don’t want a Woody Harrelson type. You want Woody Harrelson.
They both seemed to be particularly relaxed when we spoke about the film, and happy with the end result. I’ll have my review of it on Thursday, but for now, check out these guys and also take a look at the conversation I had with the delightful Amy Poehler.
“Free Birds” opens just in time to make your child hate the upcoming holidays aka in theaters everywhere on Friday.