Owen Wilson: The Elliot to Wes Anderson's ET?


In the aftermath of his recent suicide attempt, the media has focussed on Owen Wilson's relationship with Kate Hudson, and ignored the more interesting relationship between Wilson and director Wes Anderson. Wilson and Anderson were college roommates, got their big break together co-writing Bottle Rocket, and went on to collaborate on the scripts for Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, making their creative partnership responsible for three of the greatest comedies of the past quarter century. After Tenenbaums they stopped writing together, and Anderson's subsequent film Life Aquatic, a gorgeous, humorless exercise in the quirky use of the color turquoise, was a Paul McCartney level disappointment of a solo project. Being the sort of person who thinks too much about these sorts of things, I always suspected there was an element of truth in Wilson's character Eli Cash, probably the funniest and most resonant in The Royal Tenenbaums. Cash was an approval-seeking author who got addicted to drugs after becoming suddenly and randomly famous for a ridiculous novel ("Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is... maybe he didn't?"). The rumors of Wilson's drug use were already circulating at the time, so it wasn't a stretch to think that the character came from a place of truth, or possibly concern on Anderson's behalf. I was just reading an unremarkable statement issued by Anderson in the wake of Wilson's suicide attempt when I came across something that gave me the chills. It said that in Anderson's upcoming film Darjeeling Limited, a film Wilson stars in but didn't co-write, "Wilson plays a distraught man bandaged throughout the film who other characters imply has attempted suicide." Sort of creepy right? All of this might not add up to much more than a couple of coincidences, but while everyone's asking Kate Hudson if she saw the warning signs, it's worth noting that like any romantic relationship, a good creative partnership requires that you lay yourself bare. Anderson and Wilson had one of the good ones and both have seemed lost since it ended. The movies they collaborated on always told sad stories that ended on hopeful notes. The most hopeful ending I can think of to this sad story (and sad blog post, sorry, I'll try to make my next one about penises with mustaches drawn on) would be to have Anderson and Wilson collaborate on another script at some point down the road.

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