Back in the race
Owen Wilson, the voice behind Lightning McQueen, on the making of Cars 2
Owen Wilson has won great acclaim for his memorable turns in mainstream and independent films. His string of box-office successes includes Midnight in Paris, Marley & Me, Night at the Museum, Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, Wedding Crashers and You, Me and DuPree. In an interview, Wilson speaks about his second outing in Pixar's Cars.
What made Cars so endearing?
I think Cars and the other Pixar films are so popular because they take on universal themes and tell them in a unique way that feels personal with almost a handmade quality. Their films are different from everybody else's. Pixar seems to care about getting it right.
What kind of director is John Lasseter?
Cars was his passion project, so it was exciting to have him at the helm again. There's so much enthusiasm when he's directing me in a session that you'd think it's his first movie. He dresses a bit like a kid — he's always in one of those Hawaiian shirts with cars on them. He seems like someone who would fit in working at Disneyland, but you get off the ride and the guy's the head of maybe the most successful animation company ever.
Who are some of the new characters in Cars 2?
The filmmakers do a great job of populating this world with great new characters. One of the fun things about the espionage world in the movie is you have all these cool gadgets for the spies. It makes it that much more exciting. You've got Finn McMissile, who's voiced by Michael Caine — which just feels right. Holley Shiftwell is voiced by Emily Mortimer. And the Gremlins and the Pacers are the bad guys. Mater gets me involved in the World Grand Prix when challenged by Francesco Bernoulli, a Formula Racer voiced by John Turturro. He's my number one competitor. He's very cocky and somebody you want to beat, but he also has that European flair to him.
What's new for Lightning McQueen in Cars 2?
When the movie begins, I'm happy just to be in Radiator Springs and I get to spend time with Sally and everyone. The big change for my character is he's learned his lesson in the first film. He's now a lot more grounded, but Francesco gets him stirred up and back into the competitive mode.
What is the story of Cars 2?
Mater is like one of those overgrown puppies that you love, and has such loyalty and love. But he kind of drives me crazy, too. His heart's in the right place, but in trying to help, he just creates more chaos.
Mater has never been out of Radiator Springs so I invite him along for this adventure. So we're going global — we're visiting England, Italy and Tokyo for the World Grand Prix. Along the way, Mater becomes entangled in a little intrigue — international espionage — people mistake him for an American spy. So we're not just racing around the world, we're trying to save it.
What do you think of the Cars 2 world?
I'm excited to see the way they've “car-ified” Tokyo, London, Paris and Italy. I think it's going to be amazing. I know when John Lasseter was showing me the stills — the drawings — they were so beautiful I wanted to take them home and hang them on my wall.
Are you a fan of cars and racing?
Growing up in Texas, there's always a love affair with cars and I think one of the things that inspired John Lasseter is that he loves cars.
As a kid, I'd make up a list — if you could have five cars, what would they be? I love Aston Martins and the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” and Ferraris — from the '50s especially — are really amazing. I drive a Prius, but maybe that's not as exciting as some of those cars.
The spectacle and the sound of Formula 1 racing is something unbelievable. I also became somewhat of a racing fan after meeting some of the NASCAR racers on the first film.
Send this article to Friends by