Luke Wilson: He Used To Push Lawnmowers. Now It’s The Wryness Envelope – Brief Article

Luke Wilson: He Used To Push Lawnmowers. Now It’s The Wryness Envelope – Brief Article – Interview

Edward Burns

EDWARD BURNS: Lucas! How you doing, man?

LUKE WILSON: Good. How’s it going, Eddie?

EB: Good. So I want to ask you about your new movie. The Royal Tenenbaums. I know you’ve worked with Wes [Anderson, the director] and your brother [actor/writer Owen Wilson] twice before, on Bottle Rocket [1996] and Rushmore [1998].

LW: You’ve done your homework.

EB: [laughs] I have. Did it feel weird to show up on the set this time with Wes and your bro, and all of a sudden you’ve got Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller and Gwyneth Paltrow with you?

LW: Yeah, it was incredible. It felt like we–well, mostly Wes and Owen–had capitalized on the chance we got. But I’m sure it was the same for you after The Brothers McMullen [1995]–you get people who are there because they really want to be.

EB: Have you found that these smaller films are your best professional experiences?

LW: Definitely. Although I had a lot of fun working with Martin Lawrence on Blue Streak [1999].

EB: You told me once that your brother, who also co-wrote Rushmore with Wes, was upset that every time someone gives him a compliment on that movie it’s regarding a line you wrote.

LW: I wrote about two pages of what Wes and Owen considered corny jokes–but they were all gold.

EB: [laughs) Were they more willing to tap into that gold of yours on Tenenbaums?

LW: [laughs] Not really. But I’ll tell you, it’s fun just to feel comfortable enough to make suggestions.

EB: I find that when you give some actors the green light, they turn it into gold. And there are others who you give a little room to, and you get a four-page monologue.

Stanley Tucci was fantastic at that on my latest movie, Sidewalks of New York. He’s a writer and director, yet at the same time he’s a great actor who knows how to make a scene better.

LW: What’s the basic plotline of Sidewalks?

EB: It’s about six New Yorkers who are connected through some sort of sexual liaison.

LW: And who is your character?

EB: Surprisingly, I play the Irish guy from Queens whose dad was a cop. I’ve never tapped into that guy before. [both laugh) He’s making a lot of money as a television producer, yet he’s miserable. He wants to be a writer, but how does he walk away from a nice-paying gig?

LW: Speaking of jobs, you landscaped growing up, didn’t you? I loved landscaping.

EB: Did you landscape, too?

LW: Yeah. Sometimes, when the weather is just right, I think about calling my old boss.

EB: To see if you can get behind the mower. [both laugh) But we should get back to Tenenbaums. Who’s your character inspired by, Bjorn Borg?

LW: Exactly. That was Wes’ idea. He wanted him to have that classic Fila look from the ’70s: the headband, the beard.

EB: The beard is great.

LW: Yeah, the beard was major, a two-month excursion. Have you ever had one?

EB: I just tried to grow one and I went about two weeks with it, but it itched like hell.

LW: You’ve really got to commit to it. It itches like hell for a while and then, the next thing you know, you’re just a pair of eyes. It was the first major physically altering thing I’ve done for a part. It was nice to have it when I wasn’t at work, to have something that kept me thinking about my character.

EB: So you haven’t really told me what Tenenbaums is about.

LW: Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston are Upper East Side parents, with three talented children. Ben Stiller’s character is a great businessman from an unusually early age, Gwyneth Paltrow’s is a playwright, and I’m a great tennis player. Early on Hackman abandons us, and each kid, as we get older, begins falling apart. It’s a comedy, but it’s got some serious overtones to it.

Edward Burns is the writer/director of Sidewalks of New York. Opposite: Luke Wilson wears a suit by BURBERRY.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Brant Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group