The talented actors mused on growing up, finding a silver lining in struggle and their charming relationship with one another.
Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern sure have been busy lately. With nearly a dozen projects between the two of them, the venerable actors have been pushing themselves to new prolific extremes. The “True Detective” star has outdone himself in 2017, with two films already released and another four in post-production. Dern is no different, playing the lead in two films this year and acting in three TV shows, two of which involve starring roles.
Taking the time out of their busy blockbuster-fueled schedule, the two acclaimed actors recently starred in the more nuanced dramedy, “Wilson.” The Daniel Clowes-adapted film tells the story of the misanthropic cynic Wilson (Woody Harrelson), who has recently discovered that he has a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara) with his estranged wife (Laura Dern). Hoping to reconnect with both and finally find happiness, Wilson sets off on trying to do so with hilariously gauche results.
The Knockturnal had the opportunity to sit down with the eccentric Harrelson and the charming Dern to discuss the film, its inclusion of improv and the political potential of the nihilistic Wilson.
Luke Wilson to Harrelson: You Belong on Celebrity Hoarders
From Nicolas Cage’s strange obsession with shrunken heads to Tom Hank’s one with typewriters, there are a few celebrities in tinseltown that are known for their hoarding qualities. While some may have bizarre gothic voodoo collections like Cage’s or historical ones like Hank’s, others simply don’t know what to throw out and feel a sense of nostalgia for it all. Harrelson seems to fit this latter category.
“My buddy Owen [Wilson] tells me that I should be on an episode of Celebrity Hoarders,” revealed the actor. Harrelson went on to say, “there are boxes just everywhere. It isn’t really that I’m hoarding–even if it seems like it. It’s that I have to go through and decide what to keep and what to throw away.” Explaining how exactly he’s found himself living in a pseudo-storage unit, the two-time Academy Award-nominated actor explained, “when I go on location, eventually everything that was on location ends up back there in a box. And I don’t ever look in no box [laughs]. I don’t want to look in that box.”
The actor finally conceded, saying “Yeah I think I may be collecting too much stuff and eventually my day will come when I can’t even walk in the house.” It’s just too bad that the TV show that Owen Wilson was describing doesn’t exist because I think everyone would want to see just what Harrelson kept from his “Zombieland” or “Kingpin” days.
The Endearing Relationship Between Dern and Harrelson
When you have the talented likes of Laura Dern and Woody Harrelson on your set, one need not worry as much about extracting the best from your actors–they already do it every time. And with the comic experience behind their belts, both Dern and Harrelson were given the freedom to improvise and create their own perceptions of their characters. And the fact that the two had already worked together previously made it all the better.
The charmingly effervescent Dern explained, “Woody and I worked together twentyish years ago so I’ve been carrying my love of Woody all along [laughs],” to which Harrelson riotously looked up to the sky with closed eyes, extended his arms and slowly pronounced, “this could be the night!” After confessing she can’t think of the word to finish her sentence, Harrelson bemused, “you’re censoring.” The wily Dern agreed, replying “I am censoring. Yeah, I was thinking about you and I realized I should censor [laughs].
Expanding on the Comedy Through Drama
Comedy is hard a hard sell–particularly when it doesn’t appear genuine. But with a little injection of levity, the humor of the situation becomes more nuanced, detailed and realist. This metaphorical tightrope walk between the two genres is a skill that the talented Dern and Harrelson excel at, creating touching moments that leave one understanding the breadth of their character’s dispositions, no matter how drifty those emotions might be.
Explaining his philosophy behind cinematic humor, the elucidatory Harrelson said “For a movie, it’s the drama in it that makes the comedy. If it wasn’t dramatic it wouldn’t be comedic. All the shit that happens to us in this movie is terrible. It’s struggle but it’s funny.” Speaking to Wilson and Pippi’s blunt truthfulness, Dern concluded, “I think the more we can allow our filterless self to find some balance, the better our civilization can be.”
A Forthright America: Wilson For President
The ability to say what’s on one’s mind seems to be a breath of fresh air for many Americans. From Trump’s brazen twitter banter to controversial comedians like Doug Stanhope who tell it like it is, American culture has embraced the idea that being filterless is a good trait. And films like “Wilson” certainly welcome that sensibility.
“If I’m at Disneyland and I’m throwing away my kid’s plastic drink, I want a Wilson to say, ‘What the fuck are you doing?! Throw that away in the recycling bin!’ I like that!” said Dern. The charming Harrelson couldn’t resist shouting, “Wilson for president!” as an affirmation of Dern’s beliefs that constructive confrontation is not necessarily a bad thing. Dern concluded that, “I think the more Wilson’s we get, the better off we’ll be.” While that may not necessarily be true, it certainly does feel refreshing and funny to have unfiltered thoughts come careening through pop culture.