Q&A: Owen Wilson And Ed Helms Of Father Figures

In Father Figures, you play twin brothers who find out as adults that the father they grew up believing was dead is very much alive. Having grown up with brothers yourselves, did your real-life relationships inform the dynamic between Peter and Kyle at all?

ED HELMS: Yeah, absolutely. Peter and Kyle are sometimes at each other’s throats, but beneath that is a sort of soft underbelly of love and affection. That certainly was the dynamic with my brother.

OWEN WILSON: I was one of three boys, and there were always shifting factions when I was growing up. So, Kyle and Peter’s relationship felt quite familiar. And Larry [director Lawrence Sher] has a twin brother, so he had a unique insight into the dynamic between these guys.

In the film, Peter and Kyle’s mother, Helen, is played by Glenn Close. What was it like working with an acting legend like Glenn?

OWEN WILSON: You expect her to be a great actor, and Glenn doesn’t disappoint. But I especially enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know her.

ED HELMS: Glenn is really quite the bon vivant. I really loved her spirit and joie de vivre.

You also had an amazing ensemble playing the guys’ potential fathers – like J.K. Simmons, Ving Rhames and Christopher Walken. How was it getting to work with them?

ED HELMS: They were all great. We all make a lot of assumptions about what actors may or may not be like, based on what we’ve seen them do in movies or TV. People even do this to me – assuming I’m a certain way they imagine me to be. But when you work with someone like Christopher Walken or Ving Rhames or any of our co-stars in this movie, it’s fun to get to see their human side.

One of the possible dads they meet is American football superstar Terry Bradshaw – playing himself. How does that go for the guys, and how was it working with a sports icon like Terry?

ED HELMS: It was super fun. I love that scene. Terry is a hero to both Peter and Kyle, and he immediately takes a shine to Peter, who is a little gruff and has an angry edge, while Kyle is so effortlessly charming that most people would instead connect with him. So, that was a really fun dynamic to play. Peter is super excited to have all that attention and affection from Terry Bradshaw, and it was great for me to just enjoy that because Terry is such a hilarious and warm and gracious guy.

OWEN WILSON: I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and our football team – the Cowboys – was the arch-rival of Terry’s team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. And I remember the Cowboys’ heartbreaking losses, many of which were due to Terry’s incredible skills.

One of the funniest scenes in the film is when Peter and Kyle are arguing and there’s a hitchhiker [Katt Williams] in the back seat screaming because a train is barreling down on their car. What was it like being in the midst of such a complex, large-scale sequence?

OWEN WILSON: It was intense. On top of this huge, dramatic stunt – with a real train hitting a real car – and all the coordination and logistics that goes into that, we were dealing with a lot of other factors, including some bad weather. I always find it so cool to get another window into how these big, crazy scenes come together. Sometimes I still feel like a little kid wondering, how did they do that?

We also had a lot of emotion to play in that scene, which is hard to do at three in the morning, when it’s raining and you’re cold and tired [laughs]. But, it’s all just part of the magic of making a movie.

You guys spent quite a bit of time together in the car when you were filming. Was that a bonding experience in any way?

OWEN WILSON: That’s one of the things I had a lot of fun with on Father Figures. Each morning, I’d be going to work and thinking about the subject that Ed and I were going to explore that day. What world problem were we going to solve [laughs]? That might have been a problem for our director. Ed and I had too much to say to each other, and Larry would sometimes have to get us back on track!

ED HELMS: Every day was like being on a road trip with someone you like. It was fun. I mean, we’re shooting a road trip movie, and we did have to spend a lot of time confined in a car. Thank God it was with Owen.

Any memorable moments while you were filming on the road?

ED HELMS: Yeah, it was during one of our driving scenes in the suburbs of Atlanta. As usual in these kinds of scenes, we were being trailed by a caravan of support crew and suddenly, some guy drove by and just started screaming at us [laughs]. Maybe he was upset we were holding up traffic. And you know what? He had a good point. But there was something about his attitude and his anger that made us chuckle a bit.

What do you hope audiences around the world will take away from Father Figures?

OWEN WILSON: I hope they’ll be entertained – that they’ll go along for the ride and enjoy the story and have a good time with the two brothers and their journey.

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

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