INTERVIEW: Actor Luke Wilson on being with the “Middle Men”

Luke Wilson's presence in American film is as constant and reliable as it is unlikely.  The 39-year-old Dallas native can be seen on-screen this week in "Middle Men," a drama by filmmaker George Gallo (screenwriter of "Midnight Run") about the creation of the Internet porn industry, centered on a fictional character named Jack Harris (based on the movie's producer Christopher Mallick).

Wilson made his feature film debut starring in Wes Anderson's first feature, "Bottle Rocket," acting alongside his older brothers Owen Wilson, the movie's co-writer, and Andrew Wilson, a co-producer.  He had no aspirations to be an actor (and no training, either). Yet he, his brothers and Anderson somehow managed to make a short film version of "Bottle Rocket" that caught the attention of TV and movie producer James L. Brooks ("Terms of Endearment"), who shepherded the movie through the studio pipeline with its original cast and filmmakers, birthing several careers in the process. Since then, Wilson has carved out a niche playing what might be called "the Luke Wilson Role," a category that alternates between supportive boyfriends or husbands in female-driven star vehicles and well-meaning, often slightly bewildered second leads that don't get the girl (this used to be called "the Ralph Bellamy part").

But there are other sides to his talent. Wilson has a world-class goofball deadpan,  displayed in the Mike Judge film "Idiocracy" and in the Will Ferrell comedies "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and "Blades of Glory."  He also has a dark intensity, memorably showcased in Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums," in the western "3:10 to Yuma" (in which he savagely tortured Russell Crowe), in the independent film "Henry Poole Is Here" (in which he played a depressed hermit whose neighbors see the face of Jesus in a stain on his wall), and now in "Middle Men," a comedy-drama about the intersection of technology, sex and capitalism.

Salon spoke with Wilson about Method acting, typecasting, his brother Owen's recovery from a 2007 suicide attempt, his reunion with "Bottle Rocket" costar James Caan, and his continuing amazement that a guy like him could have come this far.


Actors, Interview

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