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Luke Wilson on The Wendell Baker Story

Published May 9, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of ThinkFilm.
Luke Wilson is the youngest Wilson brother, so he sort of follows in his brother's footsteps. Owen paved his way in Hollywood by writing his own scripts as well as taking acting projects. Luke has had a successful acting career too, but he only now decided to try writing and directing with his own project, The Wendell Baker Story. He still got help from oldest brother Andrew, who co-directed the film with him.

Luke Wilson on Wendell Baker


"We didn’t really have a planned way to do it," said Wilson. "It just kind of worked out where I would block the scenes out with the actors, and Andrew and Steve Mason, the cinematographer, would kind of work out the shots. It was never the kind of thing were I had one idea and Andrew had another and we kind of had to take ten minutes to figure it out. If anything, I feel like we kind of moved a little faster in doing it that way because I would be able to block it and he’d be able to lay it out and figure out what shots they were going to do. And I can be rehearsing at the same time with them. Yeah, I think it worked out pretty well."

The story has con man Wendell Baker get his first legit job in an old folks home, and team up with local residents (Seymour Cassell and Harry Dean Stanton) against the corrupt staff. Wilson hopes the films of his family can help bring more attention to these Hollywood legends.

"That kind of came about for me like I’ve worked with Seymour Cassel on Rushmore and he kind of looks like your grandfather and he’s like, ‘Let’s go out. It’s half priced drinks Ladies night at Sharkeys.’ And you’re like, ‘Huh? We have to be up at six, Seymour.’ ‘Yeah, I know, I know. We gotta get going now.’ I mean, the guy would have more energy than I did and still very vibrant to put it mildly. And then you think about all that these guys have been through and I just always like that they never got beaten down by life. And it’s not like they haven’t had hardships or ups and downs over the years. They have been in the biz since the '40s and the '50s and Seymour’s been in prison and things like that, to where, yeah, I felt like I had a lot to learn from them and it always kind of made me be upbeat and that helped me with the character of Wendell who is an upbeat guy and just kind of being around those guys."


The Wendell Baker Story The Wendell Baker Story


The Wendell Baker Story The Wendell Baker Story

The film may open more doors behind the scenes for Wilson, but he didn't do it to become an actor/director. "We never wanted to direct or I never wanted to direct. I mean, I was always kind of interested in writing. I have only done that one script. I have another one done now and another couple of things I’m trying to work on, but that’s really fun when it’s kind of going well. But it can also make your heart sink when you run out of steam or can’t seem to break through the story and you give it to somebody and they say, ‘It doesn’t make sense.’ I think we just had fun in the producing of the movie like making the call to Will [Ferrell] to do the movie, or in finding a cinematographer like Steve Mason and you just get lucky and it’s so exciting to think about all the people we’ve read about from Hal Ashby to Peckinpaugh to Martin Scorsese like working with the same people again."

Though directing wasn't his first priority, Wilson didn't sit back on his laurels either. "We knew we that didn’t want to do the conventional like one master over the shoulder and then a tight shot. We knew wanted to do like a lot of oners, just because we know that’s what we like, like Woody Allen movies and things like that. So when you do have a close up it can have a little more of an impact and that’s where Steve Mason was really helpful, the cinematographer, to tell us certain times what you have to get just to make it work. And that you can’t always do that. You can’t always just have a master, just the one shot and move on. You really need it for the story and to keep people kind of interested. So, that was really helpful to have something like that."

The Wendell Baker Story opens to theatres on May 18th.

For the trailer and more movie info, go to The Wendell Baker Story Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.


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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of ThinkFilm.
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