The crime drama Meeting Evil (currently available through Magnolia Ultra VOD prior to the film’s theatrical release on May 4th) follows John (Luke Wilson), a depressed suburban family man and recently fired realtor, who offers to help a stranger named Richie (Samuel L. Jackson) with his car. Upon doing so, John is quickly sucked into a nightmarish murder spree that forces him to go to any length he can to protect his family.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Luke Wilson talked about how he came to be a part of the project, that he had played golf with Samuel L. Jackson a few times prior to their working together, his attraction to the film noir feel of the film, playing husband to actress Leslie Bibb, and the most challenging scene to shoot. He also talked about shooting Season 2 of the HBO series Enlightened, from creator Mike White and starring Laura Dern, and how much fun it would be to get to reprise his role from the first film for Anchorman 2. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
LUKE WILSON: It was just one of those things where they got in touch with me. As a movie-goer, I really like to watch all different kinds of movies and, as an actor, I always feel like I could do pretty much anything, but a musical. So, it’s nice to get asked to do something that’s a little outside of what people might think is in my wheelhouse. So, the director (Chris Fisher) just got in touch with me. And, Sam [Jackson] and I had known each other, so we got along real well. Sam is one of those actors where he gets asked, “Do you want to work with this guy?” I feel like I probably got the okay from Sam, and then they asked me to do it. I got the chance to do something different, and work with Sam.
What was it like to work so closely with Samuel L. Jackson for this, and have to go head-to-head with him? Was he intimidating, at all?
WILSON: The only other person I could really compare it to was when I got the chance to work with Gene Hackman. They are such icons. You meet certain actors and it can be the classic thing where you’re like, “Gosh, that guy is a lot shorter in person,” or people just don’t live up to their screen image. And then, you get people like Hackman and Sam, where they really do live up to their screen image and they’re definitely not smaller in person, which is saying something. Physically, Sam is probably a couple inches taller than me. So, I definitely had that in the back of my head, going into it, where you have to concentrate and not be in awe of the person. But then, a testament to what a great actor he is, his icon status and all that stuff goes right out the window when you work with him. That’s due to just how good he is and his intensity.
WILSON: We really didn’t. As people know, Sam is just so busy and really into the work, in a great way. He was coming from something, and then going to something, so we really didn’t get the chance to rehearse. I can go both ways on rehearsing. I get a little lazy and don’t want to do it, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “Gosh, you don’t want to waste any good moments in rehearsal.” But then, it can be really helpful. For me, the thing I thought about on this movie was that we aren’t supposed to know each other and have no relationship. His character literally just shows up on my doorstep. That element, you’ve just gotta make work for you. Sam and I had known each other because we’ve played golf together a few times and gotten to be friendly, so it was nice that we knew each other, in that respect, and I didn’t have to tiptoe around him.
Was part of the appeal of this the fact that the reasons for what happens are kept pretty ambiguous?
WILSON: Yeah. To me, it had a film noir feeling, like an old movie from the ‘40s or ‘50s. There was a, for lack of a better word, melodramatic aspect to it that I really liked. It’s the classic story of the guy whose life is in turmoil, and he opens his door and there’s a guy who’s going to change his life, asking for help with his car. It just seemed cinematic to me, which I liked. It seemed a little otherworldly to me.
WILSON: Yeah, I did. That’s a good example of where rehearsing or knowing somebody could be helpful. You’re supposed to be married. But, Leslie is really easygoing and nice and good. She, to me, had a really good handle on the movie, too, with that melodramatic aspect where you don’t quite know what’s going on. I really enjoyed working with her. It’s just helpful, when you’re supposed to be old friends or close friends, or brother and sister, or married, to get along with the person, and she and I definitely got along. I really liked the way she worked. It’s the kind of movie where you wouldn’t fault somebody for being off and alone to keep the intensity. But, she was one of those people who you could just be talking to and having launch with, and then the next minute, you’re in this intense, emotional scene. She did it effortlessly.
You have some really intense and some really physical moments in this film. Was anything particularly challenging?
WILSON: There’s the one scene where Sam and I first meet and he starts the car, and the exhaust and backfire burns my leg. It was scripted that I would knock Sam’s hat off. I’m yelling at him and knock his hat off. And when we did it, I just yelled at him, and the director was like, “Did you forget to knock Sam’s hat off?” I was like, “No, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.” He had on this short, brown, old-style hat. It was just difficult, physically, to knock it off without hitting Sam. The next take, I did it and just boxed Sam’s ear really hard and was like, “Oh, boy!” And then, we got in the car together and Sam just looked over at me and was like, “Ouch!”
The physical stuff is difficult. It’s one of those things where it’s just harder than it looks. I remember the first time I did a movie where I had to have a gun and do something related to that, and I thought, “Okay, I was always a fan of Harrison Ford, but the guy really is great to be able to sell that kind of thing.” Even doing a scary movie, it’s hard. When you do a comedy, the goals are much clearer to me. You’re just trying to make a funny scene and a funny movie, and you can rely on the other actors and the director and the crew people, for whether or not they get a kick out of it. When you’re doing something like this, sometimes things can feel stagnant or too dramatic. I had to remind myself that it was going to be lit a certain way and there was going to be music, and all these other elements come into play that you have to remember. It’s not just you. There are these other things that help get the point across.
Do you have any idea what you’re going to be doing next?
WILSON: I’m doing the second season of the HBO show Enlightened, that I did last year. I think we’re doing eight episodes, and I just did one last week, directed by Mike White, who wrote and created the show with Laura Dern. That’s really fun. I’ve never done a show like that, and I’ve never come back to a show for another season. It’s really interesting to do that. And, I just like the people so much. It’s not just Mike and Laura, but really great crew people. It’s been really, really fun to do.
Having been a part of Anchorman, were you excited to hear that Anchorman 2 is going to happen, and are you hoping you’ll get to be in it?
WILSON: Somebody just told me that last week. I had forgotten that I’d lost both my arms, in the first one. It would be so fun to do it. I would love to do something on that.