Owen Wilson Biography
(born November 18, 1968) is an American actor and writer. He
is best known for his roles in buddy comedy movies. With the most distinctive
nose in Hollywood, Owen may not have the most chiseled looks, but his raw
comedic talent and easygoing nature have propelled him into stardom in a
relatively short time.
Owen Wilson was born in Dallas, Texas to Robert Andrew Wilson a PBS executive
and Laura Cunningham a photographer, both of whom were of Irish Catholic
descent. Owen is the middle sibling of three brothers: Andrew, the eldest, and
Luke, the youngest, who is also a well-known actor.
Owen Wilson attended the St. Mark's School of Texas before graduating from high
school at the New Mexico Military Institute. He was expelled from St. Mark's in
tenth grade after stealing his teacher's textbook in an attempt to help him
finish his math homework quicker. Afterwards, he attended the University of
Texas at Austin, where he met future collaborator Wes Anderson. Owen dropped out
two courses shy of a degree. He needed a math and a Spanish class to graduate.
In 1993, Wilson co-wrote and starred in the short film version of Bottle Rocket,
which was directed by Wes Anderson. After being screened at the Sundance Film
Festival, Wilson and Anderson were recruited by filmmaker James L. Brooks to
expand the Bottle Rocket short to feature-length for Gracie Films. The young
team of filmmakers were given $5 million dollars to make the film, about a group
of innocents who try their hands at being petty thieves. Although not a
financial success upon its release in 1996, the film became a cult favourite and
introduced Wilson's offbeat acting style to American audiences. Owen, along with
his brothers Luke and Andrew, moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting careers.
Owen landed minor roles in big budgeted movies very quickly such as The Cable
Guy which was directed by Ben Stiller
who was an early admirer of Bottle Rocket. After minor appearances in action
films like Anaconda, Armageddon and The Haunting, Owen got his big break with
the 2000 comedy action hit Shanghai Noon starring opposite Hong Kong action star
Jackie Chan. After the success of Rush Hour, producers thought the buddy formula
could work again with Jackie Chan being paired with a white man this time. And
they were right. The film was a success grossing nearly $100 million dollars
worldwide. However just like Jackie, it typecasted Owen Wilson as a buddy movie
actor that he hasn't been able shake off to this day.
Gene Hackman took notice of Owen Wilson's performance in Shanghai Noon and
recommended him to play opposite him in the 2001 action film Behind Enemy Lines
- it remained the only big budgeted film which Owen had a starring role that
deviated from buddy comedy roles that Owen has since embraced.
Owen returned to the buddy comedy genre in 2002 with the action comedy I Spy,
co-starring this time with Eddie Murphy
The big screen remake of the television series flopped at the box office but
brought much attention to Owen. He then reunited with Chan to make Shanghai
Knights (2003), teamed up with Ben Stiller
in the movie remake of the television
series Starsky & Hutch (2004), and partnered with Vince Vaughn
in the 2005 box
office smash the Wedding Crashers which grossed over $200 million dollars in the
Although he found initial success as a film actor after his turn as "Dignan" in
Bottle Rocket, Wilson remained a key creative collaborator to Wes Anderson's
next two directorial efforts. Rushmore was the two writers' second script, and
was partially based on Wilson's own expulsion from St. Mark's as a teenager.
Although he didn't appear in the film, he and Anderson acknowledged on the
Criterion Collection DVD audio commentary that Wilson has a sort of quasi-cameo
as Rosemary Cross's dead husband, Edward Appleby. The photographs of Appleby in
Ms. Cross's room are ones taken of Wilson as a boy.
In 2001, Wilson and Anderson wrote their third film, The Royal Tenenbaums, which
was a financial and critical success. The comedy featured an all-star cast,
including Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson
, and Danny
Glover. Wilson had a memorable supporting role in the film as a
Professor-turned-bestseller "Eli Cash." It earned the writing team an Academy
Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Due to his busy schedule as an actor, he wasn't able to collaborate on the
script for Wes Anderson's fourth feature, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,
which was ultimately co-written by filmmaker Noah Baumbach. However, Wilson
eventually did star in the film as Bill Murray
's would-be son, Ned Plimpton,
which was a role written specifically for Wilson.
Wilson's roles have varied between small, quirky comedy collaborations with
Anderson and bigger budget box office fare, including eight movies made with
comedic actor Ben Stiller
. He and Stiller along with Luke,
Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn
considered members of the Frat Pack. Owen is the first "Frat Pack" member to
receive an Academy Award nomination.
He has been in eight movies with Ben Stiller
, up to this date. They are The
Cable Guy(1996), Permanent Midnight (1998), Heat Vision and Jack (1999) (TV),
Meet the Parents (2000), Zoolander (2001), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Starsky
& Hutch (2004) and Meet the Fockers (2004).
In early 2005, Wilson rushed to the defense of his long-time friend and fellow
frat-packer after The New Yorker published a disparaging characterization of
Stiller's film performances, calling him "the latest, and crudest, version of
the urban Jewish male on the make." The esteemed magazine published a letter
written by Wilson, charging that the critic David Denby was a "bully" who
blithely dismissed all of Stiller's filmography with a touch of personal rancor.
In Wilson's words, he jumped to defend Stiller "not because [the article] was
good or fair toward my friend but exactly because it wasn’t."
His trademark crooked nose was caused by having his nose broken once in high
school and again in college during a flag football game at the University of
Owen Wilson dated Sheryl Crow back when
he was making the film Minus Man. The couple separated in 2000. He is also a big
Willie Nielson fan. Owen also enjoys playing Ping Pong and played a publicized
match against Regis Philbin on Regis and Kelly once.
- "Being in a bathtub with Jackie Chan, I don't know, it has a way of
bonding you I'll tell you that. I don't know if there are some weird
undertones. It was like we had met in Los Angeles and we didn't have that
much to say to each other but, after that bathtub scene, we were great
friends. What it really was was that when we'd play off each other, it
really was fun. We really did become friends". - on the bathtub scene in
Shanghai Noon (2000).
- "Sometimes I stop and think how strange this all is. Something that
began as a little idea in Austin, that Wes and I just walked around talking
about between ourselves, has turned into all this." - on how his career has
- Talking about his relationship with Sheryl Crow and his relationships
with women in general: "Going out with someone who's doing the same thing as
you, who's in the public eye, can be a problem... You want a break when you
come home. You don't want someone with the same issues as you maybe
reminding you of stuff you don't like in yourself. That being said, I don't
think being in the spotlight had anything to do with me and Sheryl not
working out. The story of our relationship is the same story I've had with
most of my relationships. I was lucky enough to find a great girl, and
because of my lack of... focus, the relationship went south."
- Wedding Crashers (2005) $10,000,000
- Starsky & Hutch (2004) $10,000,000
- Behind Enemy Lines (2001) $3,000,000
- Zoolander (2001) $2,000,000
- Shanghai Noon (2000) $4,000,000
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