Why we must hail Hollywood’s unsung smiling man Owen Wilson?


Hollywood is a complicated place. And nowadays, an equally interesting one. Mega budget movies continue to be unfurled on big selling weekends to ring cash registers.

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At the same time, the stars lead far more scrutinized lives than before. Not that famous figures like Clint Eastwood, Rock Hudson and Betty Davis weren’t hounded in their heydays but today’s stars are a product of PR and cash-rich publicity.

Insecurities run rife as new competition emerges. There are the new guys -Gerard Butler, both Ryan’s ; Gosling, Reynolds, Robert Pattinson, while the experienced hands and old blokes are still going great guns. The wonderful Tom Hanks, the mega Robert Di Niro, the electrifying dudes- Ralph Fiennes and Denzel are very much around. Leo has finally picked up an Oscar. Kevin Spacey is more than just a movie star, a regular on small screen wonders. John Cusack has lessened hanging out on Hollywood sets and has assumed an ‘activists’ role.

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But, you don’t need to be a monk to fathom that in all it’s hype, drama, and ecstasy, Hollywood is actually turning a place where everyone is ‘acting’ and perhaps sticking to an increasing trend of ‘movie franchises’. Tightly structured action-packed narratives, so much a part of high-end graphics drama, are stealing the thunder of story-lines running on simple albeit acting-driven roles.

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In times marked by “Inception”, “Shutter Island”,  and “Gravity”, we keep seeing ‘Transformers’ series or the “Bourne” series or even “Pirates of the Caribbean”. This isn’t a scathing attack. It’s an observation that it isn’t acting alone that is running Hollywood but more of sci-fi paraphernalia.

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Stuff like “You’ve Got Mail”, ” When Harry Met Sally”, and in recent times, “Music & Lyrics”, ” Lucky You”, ” Little Miss Sunshine”, or “Begin Again” or “Marley and Me” is more of a throwback to the kind of cinema that hardly gets made nowadays.

Hollywood’s ever smiling and less celebrated star

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And that’s where hitherto less visited enigmas such as Luke Wilson, Greg Kinnear, Steve Zahn, Ben Stiller, Stanely Tucci, Zack Galifianakis, Daniel Bruhl shine bright.  A certain Owen Cunningham Wilson too belongs in this league. Owen who turned 48 on November 18 is a mellow warrior and for all intents and purposes, one of the least complicated guys that are around. A sorted guy who likes to keep things simple, Wilson is one of the rarities in this PR conscious image who addresses the media offering nothing but pure version of things. There’s no inkling for hype nor for attention.

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Owen Wilson = Wow

A man of few words, Owen’s ‘Wow’ has stood out not only as the most profound cinematic expression but for the glowing niceness about him, confirms him as a good guy!  There’s always been a familiar Owen ‘wow’ when in doubt, flabbergasted, outrageously surprised or perhaps coming out of fogginess to embrace the truth. So much of a relief to finally have a star amidst us who doesn’t believe in shenanigans.

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Truth is, the Texan, a famous collaborator with Wes Anderson, elder brother to Luke thinks of himself as a trouble maker. Wow, nothing could be further from the truth. An obvious discovery upon re-visiting many of charming characters – The Darjeeling Limited, Midnight in Paris, She’s Funny That Way, Bottlerocket reveals there’s more to his talent than meets the eye.

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Ever the charming lover, marked by a certain sense of vulnerability, Owen Wilson, truth be told, has mastered the art of staidness on the big screen whilst dealing with a heady cocktail of feelings- confusion, love, eccentricity or passion- essaying all with his trademark simplicity. Not many leading men around who seem like the good guy living next door; one who parties hard but not to prove a point, who loves a good laugh and a great conversation, marked by wit and self-deprecatory humor. He’s the more subtler, restrained albeit trippier Hugh Grant. Owen is the bloke who’d be buying his buddy a pint of good lager on his off day and even attempt a few odd golf swings to lift spirits of the sullen, knowing well his skills are better off outside the 9 hole course.

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There’s a very original zeal about funnyman Owen Wilson. His soft pauses, completely dazed and confused expressions and that cute irritability point to an originality about him that’s hard to find in contemporary movie culture. As the ‘unwanted’ Dupree who overstayed his welcome at Carl’s place, the least likely bodyguard Drillbitt protecting kids whilst completely sucking at his job, Owen brought us more than just a chuckle at the expense of his quaint acting, uncomplicated humor and cuddly wackiness. In Wes Anderson’s ‘The Darjeeling Limited’, he was a bit over-caring as the eldest brother. And as the intern in a precarious situation at Google in ‘The Internship’ moved us to laughter and impressed as the unabashedly flirt in ‘Wedding Crashers’. In all of these, Owen’s subtle maneuvering of his characters was marked by a calmness and feel good quality, that is a rarity nowadays.

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It is his sincerity to come across as a guy, often caught in interesting but laughable situations and ever the reckless energetic dude who wants to get things done that makes us believe in the world where Owen reigns, albeit vicariously. Interestingly, he is, at the moment, the only actor who can carry his hair uncombed. A gentle talker, he isn’t your highly dependable Oscar-winning material but he promises enough substance to end a tough day sporting a bright smile. Never rubbing his character onto others’ face, he’s got a believable, sorted air about him. As troubled writer Gill Pender in Midnight in Paris, Owen delivered an ace, a typically understated one as the guy caught in between mixed feelings; that of being stuck with wrong person, his burning love for Paris whilst wanting to live it all despite enduring a ‘writer’s block’.

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The sense of tension that an Owen Wilson character builds up on the screen often shares a comfortable space in the skin of a guy who just couldn’t care less and Wilson has mastered the shape shifting turnstiles that his characters bring to the screen with effervescent ease.

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Picture, the director who unabashedly sleeps with rising actresses in She’s Funny That Way. Cool, calm and easy-going, Hollywood, thanks to Owen has an air of simplicity in an age where actors behave like petulant children to get the extra bit of attention and footage. If you do a quick understudy of the diverse shades of Owen’s characters even in lesser successful outings such as ‘The Big Bounce’ or ‘Are you here’, then you’d find perhaps he’s among the very few lads out there who can be quite the good looking rascal and an a$$hole with a good heart! And for that, he deserves so much of the credit that never comes is way and so much of it is credited to his unkempt hair.

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For being the best man who can land the groom in  jeopardy to also being someone can carry a micro-budget movie on his shoulders alone, here’s saluting the under-rated charm and talent of Owen Wilson.

Dev Ty

Unflustered, laconic, withdrawn, scrappy, un-idealistic, bored, self-loathing midnight turd who believes the world looks beautiful when people smile

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