When you talk to Owen Wilson on the phone, there’s a point in the conversation in which you kind of forget he’s a famous person and the interview kind of evolves (or devolves, depending on your perspective) into something that more resembles two people who just decided to hop on the phone that day and talk about their favorite movies. At least, that’s the only way I can think of to explain how the following includes Wilson’s insights on everything from Goodfellas to The Deer Hunter to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
Wilson is an interesting interview in that he displays such a sense of curiosity in the questions he’s being asked that, at times, he seems to be the one asking the questions. Wilson is promoting No Escape, a movie about a family trying to flee a foreign country that has just experienced a coup. When I compare the tone of the film to something more out of the horror genre than action, Wilson earnestly wonders why I think that and then starts talking about Raiders of the Lost Ark and Platoon. It was then I realized, oh, really anything could come up. (At one point, Wilson deconstructs the idea of if his 4-year-old son, Ford, realizes if his father is the voice the the lead character from Pixar’s Cars series, Lightning McQueen. What follows is the most adorable The Manchurian Candidate reference of all-time.)
It’s probably not a big surprise that Wilson is such a movie fan – this is someone who co-wrote movies like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums with Wes Anderson – but it may come as a surprise that Wilson really isn’t a big fan of comedies, especially when you think about how many comedies he’s starred in over the years. But Wilson does explain why one of his favorite movies is Punch Drunk Love, which is why he was so excited to star in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice last year. (And he didn’t really understand what was going on in the plot, either.)
In recent interviews, I’ve seen people ask you about being in an action movie again, but No Escape plays more like a horror movie.
That’s funny, I wouldn’t think of it as a horror movie, but maybe some of the emotions that it stirs, being a parent, those are horrific situations to find yourself in.
But when I think of an “action” movie, I think of fun explosions. This has imagery I’d more likely see in a horror movie.
So you thought the visual style led to that? That’s interesting.
Well, there’s a scene in which we see people in the movie executed in the street in the same vein we might see in a true horror movie.
Yeah, yeah. Like, sometimes in an action movie, I guess it can feel like a cartoon type of violence.
Right, where an audience might even laugh.
I love Raiders of the Lost Ark and people are getting killed in that movie, but it doesn’t seem like it; it doesn’t seem quite real. So, when that guy takes out the sword and does all the tricks, and then Indiana Jones just takes out his gun and shoots him. So he kills him, but it doesn’t really seem like it.
And it’s hilarious.
Yeah, it’s actually one of the funniest scenes in the movie. So if these filmmakers had done that movie, I guess they’d make it where you see the blood come out.
I’m probably making too big a deal about this.
No, no, no. If you’ve been unlucky enough to see violence in real life, just a fight on the street or something, it is always pretty shocking and scary. And it can sometimes bubble up out of nowhere – yeah, it’s scary.
I should probably say “horror vibe” as opposed to “horror movie.”
I’m sorry if I keep talking…
No, you’re supposed to…
But I’m thinking about it, too. I don’t want to be in a position to be blowing our horn about the movie because that’s not my personality, but if it does sort of make the violence seem more scary and real — if the movie is sort of able to pull that off — that can be pretty interesting when I’ve seen other movies that do that. So when you see – and, obviously, this is nothing like Platoon — but when you think about a horrific scene… I remember seeing that scene where they go into the village and they end up burning the village down, but Charlie Sheen comes in as, I think, it’s actually Matt Dillon’s brother, Kevin Dillon?
Yeah, Bunny! First, John C. McGinley comes in, “Come on, Bunny, let’s go. No one saw anything.” And he’s looking at the kid who just doesn’t understand, I think he might even being handicapped. And you just hear the sound of the mom talking and the language is so different than English, and it drives him some sort of crazy with some kind of blood lust. Then Charlie Sheen comes in, and he starts going crazy for a second, then kind of stops. Or the scene in The Deer Hunter with Russian roulette…
That scene gave me nightmares.
You see Christopher Walken’s face and that’s horrifying.