Cars vet­eran Wil­son shuf­fles gear change

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER - NEALA JOHN­SON

While record­ing his parts for Dis­ney-Pixar’s Cars 3, in which Light­ning McQueen is over­taken by faster next-gen rac­ing cars, Owen Wil­son thought a lot about one of his favourite NFL gridiron players, Brett Favre.

A record-breaker reaker in his hey­day, Favre strug­gled with in­juries, re­tired, then made an il­lad­vised come­back.

“Sports fig­ures, they’re e the ones where you see that story in the most ob­vi­ous way, where you can look at some­body and be like, ‘Oh, that’s not an old per­son, yet they’re no longer able to do the sport that they were so great at’,” Wil­son (in­set) says.

It’s only now that the film is com­ing out that Wil­son, 48, has started to think maybe he could be last year’s model, too.

“I felt it the other day do­ing the press jun­ket where they move you from ta­ble to ta­ble talk­ing with the jour­nal­ists,” the fun­ny­man ex­plains in his dis­tinc­tive Texan drawl.

“You know, I’m qui­etly talk­ing and they’ve got their lit­tle recorders out and there are some light chuck­les ... but at the ta­ble over from me, Cris­tela (Alonzo), who’s play­ing Cruz (the trainer tasked with get­ting Light­ning up to speed in Cars 3), her ta­ble would be laugh­ing, like they’re hav­ing the best time.

“It re­minded me of when I was do­ing Ar­maged­don — maybe be­cause it was one of my first movies and I was re­ally ex­cited to do the press jun­ket, I re­mem­ber my ta­bles laugh­ing it up, hav­ing a great time, and Bruce Wil­lis say­ing, ‘What are you guys talk­ing about?’ I felt like I’d moved over into the old vet­eran who’s just bor­ing my peo­ple while Cris­tela’s knock­ing ’em dead.”

As an ac­tor, Wil­son has lit­tle rea­son to fear be­ing lapped off the track.

He made his en­tree to Hol­ly­wood in his late 20s when he, broth­ers Luke and An­drew and friend Wes An An­der­son turned thei their short Bot­tle R Rocket into a f fea­ture. Now af­ter years play­ing the man­child in come­dies such a as Wed­ding Cra Crash­ers and Meet T The Fock­ers, or an ec­cen­tric pres­ence in An­der­son films such as The Royal Te­nen­baums and The Dar­jeel­ing Lim­ited, the fa­ther-of-two is sim­ply en­ter­ing a new phase.

In the wake of his Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion for Woody Allen’s Mid­night In Paris, Wil­son has taken new op­por­tu­ni­ties, rather than the easy route.

In the trippy In­her­ent Vice, he was a doped-out jazz muso turned in­for­mant. In ac­tion thriller No Es­cape, he was a fam­ily man caught in a for­eign up­ris­ing. And in the up­com­ing Won­der, he and Ju­lia Roberts are par­ents to a boy whose fa­cial surg­eries have kept him from at­tend­ing a reg­u­lar school.

“All of a sud­den I’m at the age, I guess, where I can play dad roles,” he says.

None of this ‘phase’ was overly thought out.

“It’s al­ways a lit­tle bit of a mys­tery to me how things un­fold; there wasn’t re­ally a grand plan — how could you?” Wil­son asks. “Be­cause you never know what movies you’re gonna have the op­por­tu­nity to be a part of. You’re at the mercy some­times of how other peo­ple see you.”

CARS 3 PRE­VIEWS TO­DAY, OPENS THURS­DAY

Light­ning McQueen in Cars 3.

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