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By Heather Wadowski | December 28, 2001

You can currently be seen playing opposite of Gene Hackman in two films, Beyond Enemy Lines and The Royal Tenenbaums. Was it purely coincidental that the two of you are starring in two movies at the same time or was it planned? ^ Gene liked me in Shanghai Noon and recommended me for Beyond Enemy Lines because he already agreed to do it, so they hired me for that. We (Owen and Wes Anderson) had always wanted him for The Royal Tenenbaums and Wes finally persuaded him during Beyond Enemy Lines to commit to the movie.
I heard that Gene actually turned down the role for Royal Tenenbaum three times before he finally agreed to play the part. Did you persuade him while working on “Behind Enemy Lines” to do The Royal Tenenbaums? ^ No. By the time I met him in Slovakia he had already agreed to do the movie.
So do you consider Gene Hackman your adopted father now? ^ No, he’s not. The reason I was really excited to work on Beyond Enemy Lines though was because of Hackman, but we didn’t have much stuff together because he’s on the ship and I’m behind enemy lines and we’re just talking by radio and stuff. Because of that we didn’t do a lot of stuff together.
Despite the fact you have starred in many films that people consider action movies, like Armageddon and “Anaconda,” fans of yours tend to remember you more for your comedic roles in films like Rushmore and Zoolander. Was one of your main draws to starring in Beyond Enemy Lines the fact that it was a serious action film? ^ Not really. The attraction was more with working with Hackman and then it just so happened to be this genre of a movie. It was a difficult movie to do though because I felt less in control, cause when you are doing a movie where you have lots of different scenes with actors or trying to be funny you kind of have a sense if it’s working. With this it was just having to rely on the director. You’d show up for work and you’d run through a landmine or you’d run through this and you just don’t know how it’s going to all fit together cause he has it all in his mind. It all comes down to whether or not he can make it exciting.
What was it like for you to participate in such grueling activities? ^ It was kind of like playing sports in high school. You geared up everyday to get your adrenaline rushing. That was kind of the feeling I had. That was the only thing I could relate it to because obviously I have never been in any type of combat situation.
It seems like Beyond Enemy Lines was a lot of hard work for you as an actor. Was there anything about the film that had you tempted to turn the offer down, or was its story and the fact you were working with Gene Hackman enough for you to say yes without any hesitations? ^ There is no way I could say no, but I think there was a way Fox could have said no. I don’t think I was the obvious first choice to do the movie, but I think it worked out okay.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of OWEN WILSON UNLIMITED>>>

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