Sitting down with Stiller and Wilson

    There were 10 twenty-something journalists crowded around a table made for six in a suite at the Ritz Carlton. The 10 were made up in large part by college or small-time newspaper writers who acted like they belonged in a suite at the Ritz waiting for celebrities to sit and chat, careful not to bump awkwardly into their entourages. They had already seen Snoop Dogg and Vince Vaughn at the “Starsky and Hutch” press conference, but there was no question that the sit-down with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson was what they had all been waiting for.

    In “Starsky and Hutch,” Stiller plays an uptight cop who would pull his gun on a jaywalker opposite Wilson, who plays a good cop who doesn’t sweat the small stuff and doesn’t mind sticking up for a dirty bookie if the price is right.

    Stiller walked in for the interview three minutes ahead of schedule — almost unheard of for such events — while Owen was nowhere to be found. Stiller took a seat and got down to business. The first question he fielded was about working with Wilson for the fourth time: “He’s fun to work with. He’s always up to something.”

    Someone in the back chimed in, “Like right now.”

    Stiller, laughed, and chomped at the bait. “Exactly, you learn to take it with a grain of salt,” he said. “That’s Owen — he just sort of skips through life and things happen to him, and nothing ever really sticks.”

    Someone else offered up some help, “He’s a Teflon blonde.”

    Stiller agreed. “Exactly, he’s got a lightness about him, people love him”.

    Wilson sauntered in about five minutes later, toothpick in mouth wearing a Wrangler shirt as if he had woken up that morning and wanted to play cowboy. He immediately butt in with a joke about his tardiness, “Where are we? Let me tell you about this.”

    In the following minutes, Stiller answered questions about career choices, profanity in films, “The Ben Stiller Show” and even grew annoyed at the inherent insult he perceived in the in the question: “Do you think there is only one way to do comedy?”

    Meanwhile, Wilson checked out the wallpaper and the crown moldings in the room, taking it all in, like he was a college kid in the Ritz for the first time.

    There was a break in the string of questions to Stiller to ask Wilson if working with Wes Anderson was a safehouse for him. A moment before the question, he had caught sight of a DVD of “The Ben Stiller Show” that one of the interviewers had brought. He ignored the question, not rudely, but overwhelmed with curiosity at the DVD he had never seen before.

    The impatience grew and finally someone asked, “Which one of your onscreen duos contains the most of your off screen chemistry?”

    Stiller gave a canned answer, “There was a lot of truth in this one (‘Starsky and Hutch’).” Owen smiled and shrugged like the cowboy he was dressed as. A wry grin fell across the face of a few writers as they realized that there seemed to be much truth in Stiller’s answer.

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