Entertainment

Luke, Owen & Andrew Wilson: Three Texas Brothers Who Accidentally Became Stars

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Hollywood is full of talented siblings -- the Baldwin brothers, the Bridges brothers, Kate and Oliver Hudson, the list goes on and on. But Luke, Andrew, and Owen Wilson are some of our favorite success stories hailing from the Lone Star State. Though they've lived in Los Angeles for decades now as major stars, their journey to the top was really based on pure luck. You'd think in a house of boys there might have been one bad seed but all three brothers are not only close, but they continue to actively collaborate with each other to this day. 

Luke, Owen, and Andrew Wilson grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. Their mother was a photographer and their father ran the Dallas PBS affiliate station. From an early age, the brothers grew up with an appreciation for movies, but surprisingly they didn't discover this love at their own home. 

"I really loved TV as a kid," Owen told Texas Monthly, "but we'd have to go over to a friend's house to watch it. We'd watch the afternoon movie on Channel 11, where we'd see Planet of the Apes Week one week and Clint Eastwood Week the next."

andrew wilson
ASSOCIATED PRESS

According to their late father Bob, the boys were also incredibly creative, regularly putting on plays together. 

"They did short plays as the Farquhar Players," remembered Bob (the name coming from the street they lived on in Dallas). "I was generally the brunt of the action. They'd set up three stools, and one of the boys would play me driving the other two out to East Texas or somewhere, trying to whack the two in the back seat. It was nice to have them act it out rather than rebel."

The boys attended the elite all-boys school St. Marks, but troublemaking Owen was expelled his sophomore year for cheating. It almost seems meant to be because at the New Mexico Military Institute where he finished high school, he met a friend who would later introduce him to future filmmaker Wes Anderson. 

It was junior year for Owen at the University of Texas in Austin when he finally crossed paths with Anderson. The two quickly discovered they both had a deep appreciation of movies and by the next semester, they were roommates. 

"I was a big movie fan," said Owen, "but I didn't see how you could really work in movies. That seemed sort of impossible. The subject I was okay at was English, so I could see trying to write short stories or maybe even books. The most practical thing seemed to be in advertising, writing copy."

Owen dropped out of UT a few credits shy of graduating and moved in with his two brothers into an apartment in Dallas. Anderson moved in soon after and they continued work on a little script they had started in Austin called Bottle Rocket. Owen recruited his two brothers to help, especially older brother Andrew who worked in advertising and had access to camera equipment. They took it to a local filmmaker who was an acquaintance of their fathers who encouraged them to make their script a short film.

"I had never even heard of a short," Luke told D Magazine. "It sounded kind of half-assed to me. We wanted to make a real movie, But he said that's what we had to do, so we made the 13-minute short." 

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With the small investment of $7,000, the four men officially had a black and white short that they took to the Sundance Film Festival. Somehow, these nobodies became the talk of the festival even though their film wasn't even in the competition. James L. Brooks, the man behind The Mary Tyler Moore Show, saw the short and offered to make Bottle Rocket a feature film. Not only that, but he allowed Anderson to direct and the Wilson brothers to star in it...a pretty rare move in Hollywood. 

When the feature film was first released in 1994, it wasn't a success. Test audiences didn't understand it and the Wilson brothers were starting to talk about pursuing other careers. But after Bottle Rocket was released on video it changed everything because the strange little film-that-could developed a passionate cult following. Hollywood gave the boys another go and their follow-up film established them as the true talent they are -- Rushmore. Wes Anderson was officially established as a talented director and the Wilson brothers started making names for themselves in the acting world. 

andrew wilson
Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP

Over the years, the brothers have continued to collaborate with each other. Andrew and Luke Wilson co-directed The Wendell Baker Story which starred Luke and Owen, and Andrew has appeared in numerous films with his brothers including Zoolander, Idiocracy, Hall Pass, Father Figures, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Big Bounce, and Charlie's Angels. He's also appeared in Fever Pitch with Jimmy Fallon, Time Trap, Druid Peak, House of Pain, and more. 

As for Luke and Owen, just look at their lengthy IMDB profiles. Owen is not only a huge movie star but an Oscar-nominated screenwriter with his old pal Wes Anderson. Luke unintentionally became a leading man who's starred in countless films over the years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Honestly, part of what makes the Wilson brothers so likable and charming is knowing that they paved their own way in the industry. They had no connections but were able to make it based on pure talent. It's a story that should be inspiring and encouraging to other aspiring filmmakers in Texas and all over the country. If these three brothers from Dallas can make it, who knows? Maybe you can too.

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Luke, Owen & Andrew Wilson: Three Texas Brothers Who Accidentally Became Stars