A Coffee With … Luke Wilson and Andrew Wilson: Brothers at home in laid-back Austin
May 17, 2007, Austin American-Statesman
The two men, more like really hairy boys, arrive pouchy-faced, rumpled, enveloped in the whiskers of Alaskan moose hunters. The fussy publicist says no photos will be allowed, that Luke and Andrew are in a “just out of bed” mode. It’s 30 minutes past noon in a sunny suite at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Coffee — a fine idea.
Luke, Andrew and Owen — the adorable, scampish Wilson brothers — are in Austin again, this time for duty. But fun, always, is also on the itinerary. Austin is a second hometown for the Dallas natives.
The Wilsons’ new comedy, “The Wendell Baker Story,” enjoyed a red-carpet preview the night before at the Alamo South. Luke wrote it, he and older brother Andrew directed, and Luke and Owen co-star with film warhorses Kris Kristofferson, Harry Dean Stanton and Seymour Cassel. Made in Austin in 2003, the movie received its world premiere during South by Southwest in 2005. It’s taken a while to secure distribution, but the movie finally opens Friday.
Owen, Hollywood bigshot, ducks today’s press obligations. He’s probably still in bed.
Luke wears the same charcoal cords and button-up black shirt he wore to the previous night’s screening and after-party, which took place at the Wilson brothers’ favorite Austin bar, Club DeVille, where they are routinely spotted.
Andrew, in T-shirt and New Balance sneakers, is the gregarious, big-smile, firm-handshake Wilson brother. Luke, sporting designer sunglasses indoors, is the mumbly, taciturn, reluctant Wilson brother. (Owen is the invisible, bent-nose Wilson brother. “Does Owen even exist?” Andrew wonders aloud.)
Pressed on whether they just fell out of bed, the brothers deny it, but their laughter betrays them.
“Luke ran the lake a couple of times,” Andrew says.
“We did a kick-boxing class,” says Luke.
“We did an urban Pilates class,” Andrew adds.
The sunglasses do not promote their case.
“My eyeballs hurt,” Luke mutters. Andrew laughs.
Still no coffee.
Andrew’s effortless nice-guyness prompts him to snatch the reporter’s tape recorder off the table and hold it up between him and Luke for maximum voice absorption. It’s a heroic gesture. Luke grips a hardback of the new Warren Zevon biography and, for some reason, a pen. The brothers sound alike. It’s a laid-back, adenoidal voice, laced with a curl of Texas drawl.
Dump the bats. The Wilsons should be Austin’s mascot, its scruffy, heart-robbing poster boys. They embody the slightly dazed, out-late, up-late energy of South Austin, the unpressed stylishness of a hip city utterly comfortable with itself.
“When you come down here from Dallas, it’s pretty apparent Austin’s more our speed,” Andrew says. “It’s by far the best town in Texas, and maybe the best town in the country.”
“Our favorite town is El Paso,” Luke deadpans.
Hotel San Jose, Jo’s Coffee, Güero’s, Hula Hut (Andrew’s favorite Austin spot), the Austin Golf Club — these are the brothers’ hangouts.
“I just like driving around in Austin,” Luke says. “I always feel like a cop” — he mimes one hand on the steering wheel, nodding coolly — “just cruisin’ around.”
Funny, they don’t mention any local music venues.
“The thing about Andrew is he hates live music,” Luke says. “I actually do, too.”
“How can you say that in Austin?” says Andrew.
“It’s (expletive),” Luke says. “They play too loud.”
“That’s blasphemy in Austin! Don’t you understand that? Saying I hate live music is like saying I don’t like being from Texas,” says Andrew before he confesses, “I’m kind of an old fuddy-duddy. Sometimes it’s just too dang loud for me.”
The coffee remains undelivered.
To galvanize a caffeine-deprived conversation, Andrew suddenly looks at Luke and asks, “Do you have a place here? That’s what people want to know.”
“Are you actually asking me that?”
“There’s a rumor that you have a place here.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You don’t have a place here. Huh.”
“I’m looking for a place.”
“Where are you looking?” Andrew persists.
“East side,” Luke says. “My friend, Liz Lambert, who runs the Hotel San Jose, just bought some land on the east side.”
We ask whether he’s going to build his own home.
“I think I’d just do one of those — what do you call those things?” Luke says.
“A yurt?” offers Andrew.
“It’s like a teepee.”
“A geodesic dome?”
“Igloo? Come on, man.” Andrew says.
“No, what are those things called? They’re little modern places that you just buy and set up.”
Ta-da. Two big green mugs of coffee are carried in for Luke and Andrew.
Luke takes a sip. “It tastes like Starbucks.”
“Hold on, I’ll be able to tell you,” Andrew says. “I’m like a connoisseur.”
He sips, then coughs loudly, wearing a grimace. “That’s Starbucks.” He picks up six packets of real and artificial sugar and shakes them as if he’s going to use them all in one cup.
Luke protests. “I’m all for Starbucks. Just because it’s successful I’m not supposed to go there?”
“God, man!” says Andrew. “Remember to keep Austin weird.”
“Pardon?” says Luke, as if he can’t believe his brother just said that.
“You heard me.”