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INT: Stiller/Wilson

03.01.2004

Hey, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are funny guys. They should work together. Oh wait, they have worked together – six freakin’ times! Despite their numerous collaborations, audiences haven’t tired of their on-screen chemistry and comedic rapport. Pair that with another cultural phenomenon that refuses to die – the whole retro seventies thing – and you’ve got studio execs drooling. Throw in Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and writer/director Todd Phillips, and you’ve got the most anticipated movie of this Spring, STARKSY & HUTCH.

Opening this Friday, STARSKY & HUTCH carries with it some pretty heavy expectations. All indications are that this could be Ben & Owen’s most successful collaboration yet. Then again, it could be another ISHTAR (a highly anticipated flick featuring two pretty decent actors, Dustin Hoffman & Warren Beatty). No matter how well the film does, I’ll still take Ben & Owen over Ben & J-Lo any day. The same goes for Ben & Jerry. I got a chance to talk to them recently at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey. They were laid-back and thoughtful – a far cry from the 20 minutes of comedy gold I was foolishly expecting. Nevertheless, they were both very cool. Here’s what they had to say about STARSKY & HUTCH.

Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson

Owen, why are you so attracted to buddy comedies -- because you seem to have almost carved a niche for yourself as almost a...

Stiller: The uber-buddy...

Wilson: Yeah, it does seem like I always...in buddy movies there are always sort of specific beats that you end of hitting and there's sort of the breakup and then getting back together and those scenes are always kind of funny for me to film.

Why were you so keen to do this?

Stiller: I just had a great time doing it, I loved the show growing up, it was one of my favorite shows as a kid. It was really different for me to be able to do this sort of genre, and it was a chance to get out of that genre a little bit and yet still do it in a way that made sense comedically. So it was just fun -- it was a fun time. I worked with Owen -- I love working with Owen, you know...

Owen, were you also a fan of the show?

Wilson: Yeah, that was the first cop show that I was into, was that and then 'Magnum P.I.,' then 'Miami Vice,' but 'Starsky & Hutch' sort of began it.

How much of this film is parody?

Stiller: I don't think we ever looked at it as a parody. I think our characters take it pretty seriously in the movie. I don't think we're ever doing jokes that are commenting on the genre – I know that, for me, was the way to look at it was that these guys are in a serious movie.

As far as the script is concerned, how much leeway did you have to do interpretation and improv?

Wilson: I think (the writers) did a good job. Todd met with Vince and me before filming and we would talk about the script and he would go write up new stuff based on whatever ideas we might have come up with.

Ben, what made you decide to bring the 'Do-it' character back?

Stiller: For years, actually, we were looking for a way to do that. To tell you the truth, originally in ZOOLANDER, the part that my dad played was going to be that character with me playing that character, but we could afford to do it with the visual effects, so we changed it. But it's been one of those things that I've wanted to do for a long time.

So this was a character you’ve done before?

Stiller: I did it on the show about 10 years ago.

Did you put a lot of your own stuff into this?

Stiller: I guess so, I mean, Todd wrote the script and he did a great job and it's sort of his own tone and we...I guess that's what I thought was interesting because I think ZOOLANDER was obviously more of my own sensibility and this was working with Todd's sensibility, but I think Owen and I brought whatever it is we are as people to the characters -- but it's through Todd's eyes.

Ben, were you nervous to meet the original Starsky, Paul Michael Glaser?

Stiller: I was nervous, yeah, definitely. I got to sit down with Paul before we started shooting. He was great. He was so supportive and really into the idea. He had seen Owen and I do something on the Oscars a couple years ago and had thought we had good chemistry in it and got behind the idea of us doing the movie. He was just totally supportive. That really made a difference to me, it kind of gave me the freedom to go off and do whatever.

Can you talk about the voice you're doing for MADAGASCAR?

Stiller: It's kind of very similar to my own voice. It's going very well. I mean it's an interesting process in terms of doing that. Are you talking about what the process is like?

What made you interested in doing a family film?

Stiller: I now have a child, so...when I started working on the movie, my wife was pregnant. The child is now 2, when the movie comes out my child will be 3. It's one of those processes that goes on so long that, as you go along with it, you sort of... I think those kind of movies, once you have a kid you have a whole new appreciation for them because you see how much your children enjoy them. I think that was the main motivation for me to want to work on it.

Owen, what voice are you doing in CARS?

Wilson: It's a voice kind of similar to my own. The character that I play is a car, a race car that is kind of talkie and is going to learn his lesson and Paul Newman is going to do a voice in it -- we had a lot of great people doing voices in it.

How long have you been working on it?

Wilson: They take forever to do, so it's been a couple years now and I think it's going to be a least two more.

Have you seen any of the animation yet?

Wilson: Just stuff that they showed me when I went in, but it won't be the final stuff.

Stiller: I've seen animation on mine.

Did you have any input on the look of your character?

Stiller: No. You just look at what they do -- it's incredible what they do, how they approach it. It's mind boggling to me, the process that they go through.

How much time did you have to spend in the water for the new Wes Anderson film, THE LIFE AQUATIC?

Wilson: It was one of those things like every movie that's always kind of a big crisis –  “Oh, you need to go over to Italy and you gotta go and do all this diving. You're going to have to go get certified, but you can't be certified in America, it won't work there...” And then you go over there and you hardly do any diving.

Stiller: So the Italians are really tough on the certification?

Wilson: Yeah (laughs)

Why is that film being shrouded in such secrecy?

Wilson: I wasn't aware that it was. I play a guy named Ned Plimpton... (Ben leans over and whispers in his ear) Oh, ok. You know what? I'm not going to be able to talk about it, someone has advised me that if I answer that question, in a court of law, they can prove that I had knowledge. (laughs) No, it's kind of inspired by Jacques Cousteau and Bill Murray plays a Cousteau character. It's not that secret. I play Ned Plimpton. I fly for Air Kentucky and I may or may not be Bill's son.

In this movie, how committed were you guys to the period detail? And do you think there is a difference between the '70s cop show and something today

Stiller: Yeah. I watched a lot of the episodes just to get inspired, to get a vibe for what they were doing and I think the feeling of a lack of irony or cynicism; characters take themselves really seriously and what they do very seriously and sort of not worrying about political correctness as much as we do now, their attitude towards women and ...

You have cameos in ANCHORMAN, starring Will Ferrell, and DODGEBALL, with Vince Vaughn.  There seems to be this little circle of actors, where you're always in each other's movies.

Wilson: Well, I think that the first time I worked with Ben was on THE CABLE GUY. And then he sent me and Wes a really nice note about BOTTLE ROCKET. He liked that movie and I liked being in THE CABLE GUY and it's just sort of people that you get along with and have the same sort of sense of humor. So Will is in this movie I did in Austin with my kid brothers -- yeah, it does seem like there is an overlap, and I'm getting ready to be in a movie with Vince Vaughn. The movie that Vince and I are doing is called THE WEDDING CRASHERS. I didn't write it; Luke wrote it and my older brother directed it in Austin, it's called THE WENDELL BAKER STORY and Luke plays that character and Will Ferrell plays someone who is kind of competing with him for this girl, Eva Mendes.

Friendship between the two cops made the TV show distinctive, can you talk about how you played with that for the adaptation?

Stiller: Yeah. (The TV show) I think, was based on their relationship and their chemistry. In the original show, they really did look after each other and cared about each other and I think the humor came from them enjoying poking at each other. I think in this movie, we had to find our own relationship and adapt the movie to that, because I think that was the key for the show working was that it worked on the basis of their relationship. So I think our relationship is a little bit different, so we sort of adapted it a little bit towards that. The idea of having the movie be about the beginning of their association, so you could have a little more tension -- that was something I think we had more of than they had in the show.

Ben, what made you think Owen would be the perfect Hutch?

Wilson: Oooh...

Stiller: Well, after a couple of other people fell out and Brad Pitt was unavailable...

Were you at all concerned that this would evolve into just another buddy comedy?

Wilson: I would say that I was more afraid that it would be just this big of spoof, that you can't really hook into the story and that it would be sort of like a skit, making fun of stuff. So it was nice when I saw the movie to see that it is funny and we have funny stuff, but it there is stuff that kind of, I thought, kind of works and a lot of that is having Vince Vaughn as the villain, who is every time we cut to him instead of having some kind of stock villain, it was somebody who is charismatic and fun to watch and doing funny stuff.

Stiller: I think there's a whole vibe to the movie that I find sort of... I find it hard to describe and we had a hard time to hone in on when we were making the movie when you talk about the tone on it -- the idea of those things that you're talking about, the generic aspects of the buddy comedy, the aspects that might make it seem like a parody or whatever, I felt like the idea was always to ride the line where you embrace all those clichés because that's what it is, and yet to find a reality in it where you care about the characters, but also, the clichés are that it is the most generic Starsky & Hutch plot that you could find. And that's the thing that works for me on that level, that it is that and it is hard to describe it, but yet it is fun to watch that if you have an affinity for what the show was. And Vince brings his brilliant persona.

Wilson: Jason Bateman is really funny...

Stiller: Jason Bateman is great.

What does Vince add?

Wilson: In this movie, he kind of gives what could be a tricky part of the story -- because it's the villain and he makes it into a believable...and more than that, because it's Starsky & Hutch, it's a funny kind of take on it.

What is it about each other that keeps drawing you back?

Stiller: I don't know. We just enjoy each other's company and have fun working together and I think as long as people allow us to work together, it'll just keep on going -- I think.

Wilson: But I think even if people didn't allow us, I'd like to think that we'd be in the Marina doing community theater.

What kind of play would that be?

Wilson: It would probably be maybe a one-man show, and Ben would play a supporting role.

Source: JoBlo.com

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