Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts are Hollywood icons in their own right, but pair’s paths have never crossed – until now. In Wonder, they play Nate and Isabel Pullman, the parents of Auggie, a child with a facial disfigurement taking his first steps into the real world. Although their differing backgrounds – Wilson is known for comedy, Roberts her Oscar-winning turns – may at first make them an odd pairing, they play off each other perfectly as a wholly believable couple.
And they have that same chemistry off-screen. Screen Rant recently sat down with the duo to discuss their experience working together – and whether Julia Roberts agreed with her character about Wilson’s classic lookalike.
Jacob is one of the biggest child actors around. So, what was he like to work and what was he like to work with the prosthetic on, which is such a challenge for any actor, let alone when your ten?
Owen Wilson: Well, he was a different person when he would put the prosthetic on… how do you say that word, the prosthetic?
OW: The prosetic [sic]. So, yeah, when he had [it on], when he became Auggie you really, I mean it was a real transformation. We’ve been talking how it felt like we weren’t really with Jacob because, of course, he couldn’t just take it off between takes, so we never would see Jacob.
Julia Roberts: We don’t know Jacob at all, actually. We only know our Auggie.
OW: What’s he like?
He’s kinda cool, kinda cool. You two working together in this movie, this is a very kid-focused movie – they drive the plot, so you guys are there to support that. How was it like to convey so much – you have such integral roles in Auggie’s life but not as much screen time as maybe his sister – how did you go about making sure you got everything across?
OW: When I read the script, that’s what felt true to me – that you know the parents. They have, you know, some influence but when they’re at school, it’s like they [the kids] are kind of on their own and [I] feel like [that’s] what it’s like being a kid. So I loved that part of it.
One thing that really floored me about the film was how immediately it challenges preconceptions, right from the very start. And I don’t know if you guys had read the book beforehand but when you got the script, how did it challenge you? Because it does make you think about how you treat people, the film. How did that sort of make you go introverted when you were reading it?
JR: She’s written August in the novel as just so immediately honest and perfectly self-aware. Like, he says on the first page, he’s kind of describing what he looks like and the summation of that description is “whatever you’re now picturing, it’s much worse”. And I think that he is like a sage in boy’s body because he understands fully who he is and what he looks like and how he occupies space in the world, and I think that is a great launching point for this incredible story.
And one final question, do you actually think he looks like Patrick Swayze [in the film, Isabel says Nate looks like the late actor]?
OW: Is that in the movie?
It’s one of your scenes, they’re watching Dirty Dancing. Apparently you look like Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.
OW: No, but Andrew my older brother – someone said that to him one time.
JR: Well, Andrew was on set and so I was sort of pictuing Andrew and I was talking about you and I was thinking about Nate.
It all makes sense. It all makes sense. Thank you very much, you were both great. Very nice to meet you both.
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