Owen Wilson is fully aware he is the reigning king of buddy films. “I’m in, like, 93 buddy movies at this point,” he says.
It’s not his fault he’s so well suited for the genre. Or is it? Wilson has a formidable array of star qualities. The relaxed, slightly irresponsible demeanour of a Californian surfer dude. The casual charm. The easy smile. The impishly crooked nose.
His appeal stretches equally to both sexes. He’s the type of knockabout bloke men like to go drinking with. The sort of man women like to take to dinner and then to bed.
His record in buddy films is equally impressive. He teamed up with Jackie Chan in the hit Shanghai Noon (2000) and the less impressive Shanghai Knights (2003).
He traded blows and wisecracks with Eddie Murphy in I Spy (2002).
His main buddy, however, is Ben Stiller.
They did their best work as a pair of feuding male models in Zoolander (2001). They had a winning line in ’70s cop humour in last year’s Starsky & Hutch. The pair played battle of the potential sons-in-law in Meet the Parents (2000).
For Wedding Crashers, Wilson brings new friend Vince Vaughn into the cinematic cubbyhouse. Vaughn and Wilson play divorce negotiators who specialise in crashing weddings to seduce women.
They have a sophisticated array of cover stories and techniques to help them in their carnal quest. Wilson’s character pretends to cry and Vaughn tells stories to children, winning SNAG brownie points from their chosen women.
Wedding Crashers is a funny romp, thanks to a witty script and solid performances from Wilson, Vaughn, Australian Isla Fisher and a killer cameo by Will Ferrell. It reached No. 1 in the US after knocking Johnny Depp’s confectionary blockbuster from the top spot.
“We’ve finally caught up with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we’ve chased it down,” Wilson says.
He jokes that he did “a lot of research” for his role as a bridal Casanova.
“I thought it was important to bring an authenticity to the role and I needed to experience that,” he says.
“One of the producers used to crash weddings as a kid. That’s where the idea came from. It is actually something men believe: that women are easier to meet at weddings, that they are open and more agreeable.”
The film is filled with many classic and corny lines, delivered to breathless women. One uttered by Wilson’s character stands out: “They say most people use only 10 per cent of their brain, but I think we only use 10 per cent of our hearts.” It sounds like the sort of line that would work with women in real life.
“When I saw the trailer I stopped and thought about it,” says Fisher, who’s sitting next to Wilson.
Wilson: “We did that line like after we’d finished shooting the whole sequence. I was just sitting around in my trailer and thought up that and it was making me laugh. It’s the sort of thing you obsess about as a kid.
“I remember thinking, ‘You only use 10 per cent of your brain. If only I could get another 10 per cent I’d be like a supergenius.’
“I was thinking about that and then adding that 10 per cent of your heart thing and how it was so corny and stupid and went back and pitched it.”
Other ruses, such as being members of the Oprah Book Club, are laugh-out-loud-funny.
Wilson refers to a scene where they pretend to have attended the Lilith Fair music festival, which was cut from the movie.
“That’s the one with all of the women like [Canadian singer] Sarah McLachlan, all those girls singing together,” he says. “It was like Lollapalooza but all girls.”
Wilson has found another top film buddy in Vaughn. The pair bounce off each other a treat, Vaughn a livewire of funny quips.
“I worked with Vince a little bit on Starsky & Hutch, but it wasn’t until this movie that we got to be friends,” Wilson says. “That was one of the things that got me excited to work on this movie. He made me laugh.”
Wilson partly credits his success in buddy films to growing up in the middle of three brothers and going to an all-boys school.
“I think that what they sense in Wedding Crashers and what is a good part of a buddy movie is that a lot of the time you’re not telling each other how great the other person is and how much you support them, but a lot of the time you’re bickering,” he says.
“It’s being comfortable enough with the other guy to say, ‘I think you’re an idiot.'”
Empire magazine says Vaughn “hasn’t been this funny since Swingers”. There doesn’t seem to be any plans to break up the A-team of Wilson and Stiller, though.
“Ben was a little sensitive when I went to work with Jackie Chan,” Wilson says. “I talked to Ben the other day because he’s thinking about maybe doing another Zoolander.”
Fisher: “That’s like my favourite movie.”
Wilson: “It’s like it didn’t do very well in America when it came out but there’s a lot of people that really like it. Ben was telling me some of his ideas for another film.”
Wilson was great as male model Hansel.
“He’s the funniest thing,” Fisher says.
I quote Stiller’s famous line from Zoolander: “Is this a school for ants?”
“‘How do people learn in there?'” Wilson quotes back. “Ben has some wild ideas for another one. I hope we do do another one.”
Fisher: “That would make me really happy. Zoo Two!”
Fisher plays Gloria, a seemingly virginal girl seduced by Vaughn’s character Jeremy who becomes progressively more clingy and scary. Gloria is the former Home and Away star’s biggest Hollywood role yet.
“Does it feel like you already notice like in America more people come up to you and stuff?” Wilson says to her. “I always notice it.”
Fisher: “Yeah. Guys have been like … I haven’t been chatted up for years … but guys have been like chatting me up.”
Even though she plays a “stage-five clinger”?
Fisher: “Yeah, and how that’s appealing. How worrying.”
Among the funniest moments is a scene where Gloria snakes her hand onto Jeremy’s crotch at dinner and starts rubbing. Was that really Fisher’s hand?
“No, but I hear that the motion is slightly odd,” she says.
Did Fisher get to choose her stunt hand?
“No, I think I was doing something else that day.”
Wilson: “The magic of filmmaking: that they’re able to do anything.”
Does Fisher think women disapprove of the idea of men cruising weddings for sex?
“When I first read the script, I thought there was no redemption for these womanisers, that they get to have their cake and eat it, but then I’ve heard from so many of my girlfriends that they love it, that the men are so charming and loveable.
“I know that women love the film and love my character.
“So many women have come up to me and said, ‘I’m exactly the same as your character.'”
Wilson: “Are you serious?”
Fisher: “I am so serious. They say, ‘I’ve just got to give you a hug.’ And they hug me and say, ‘You know, I am exactly the same as Gloria.'”
Wilson: “That reminds me of reading an interview with Sting where he was talking of people coming up and talking about Every Breath You Take and saying, ‘We played that at our wedding!’ And the song is kind of dark and he’s like, ‘Good luck with that.'”
It’s like a stalker anthem.
Fisher: “Yeah, I was just thinking of the chorus: ‘I’ll be watching you.'”
Fisher also starred in Scooby-Doo (2002). There is a question great philosophers have pondered throughout the ages: is Scooby’s sidekick Shaggy stoned all the time?
“You’d have to ask the writers of the cartoon,” she says. “We did a family version.”
Wilson: “I think he was.”
Fisher: “You’d make a great Shaggy.”
Wilson: “I was a big fan as a kid, and looking back, they’re both very paranoid. You know, they’re always going ‘zoinks!’ And they’re always hungry.”
Fisher is engaged to Sacha Baron Cohen, otherwise known as English homeboy parody Ali G. How do they plan to keep wedding crashers out of their own wedding?
“The more the merrier,” she says.
Fisher’s not worried that Cohen will suddenly slip into his Ali G persona? That he’ll say, “With this ring I thee wed … booyakasha!”
She laughs and looks at me as if that’s the dumbest question she has ever heard.
I’ll take that as a no.