Cars veteran Wilson shuffles gear change
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.