Not like the folks profiled within the new documentary A Glitch within the Matrix, actor Owen Wilson doesn’t consider he’s residing in a simulated actuality. Most likely. However his character Greg in Amazon Studios’ Bliss — Wilson’s first movie challenge since 2017 — is a unique story. Greg finds out initially of the film that the world round him isn’t actual. That reveal sends him on an journey with a lady performed by Salma Hayek, who ideas him to the scenario and leads him on an more and more fractured and twist-filled journey.
It was an uncommon problem for Wilson, who’s extra used to taking part in down-to-earth, relatable characters. His in depth work along with his previous faculty roommate Wes Anderson has put him in plenty of movies the place wild and outsized occasions occur round him — in Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, amongst others — however he’s often essentially the most grounded character within the combine. He’s typically introduced somewhat little bit of cool-guy certainty and swagger to his roles, whether or not he’s taking part in an inadvertent time traveler in Midnight In Paris or voicing speed-happy racer Lightning McQueen in Pixar’s Vehicles motion pictures.
However writer-director Mike Cahill (One other Earth, I Origins) pushes Wilson’s limits with Bliss, which has him taking part in a disconnected and disintegrating character attempting to return to phrases with a breakdown in actuality. Polygon lately related with Owen Wilson through Zoom to speak about simulation principle, and looking for the consistency in a personality residing in ungrounded realities.
This interview has been edited for readability and concision.
Do you will have any good ideas for proving that you simply aren’t residing in a simulation?
Owen Wilson: I don’t! I’m wondering what could be a great tip? It’s a tough factor to show. I had by no means even heard the concept that we’re residing in a simulation till a couple of years in the past. The Matrix does that concept, in fact. However the concept that we is likely to be in a simulation didn’t land on my radar till, I believe, Elon Musk mentioned one thing about it. After which there was one thing within the New York Occasions about it.
Since that concept was offered to me, I might begin to discover lots of proof that we’re in a simulation, particularly with this previous yr. Yeah, you could possibly make an excellent case. Who is aware of, possibly we’re? However daily we now have selections we make, and issues we resolve we’re going to consider in. Your entire life can change on these little moments.
Did you and Mike discuss any of this beforehand, both about individuals who consider simulation principle, or previous movies like The Matrix or Vanilla Sky which have taken them up earlier than?
We did discuss it. Mike has a background in physics and science that I don’t have. I generally nearly couldn’t sustain with a few of his concepts, with him speaking about Plato’s Cave. However what I might sustain with was the sensation, the emotion. The thought of someone like this character who’s coping with substance abuse and a mental-health disaster. Nobody would select that for themselves, however the actuality he’s experiencing may be very completely different from what most individuals round him are experiencing.
You get to play him in lots of completely different psychological states, and states of actuality. What was the backbone of the character for you? What saved him constant?
For me that was the problem of the film! Simply the uncertainty I had about the best way to play it. As a result of so lots of the conditions have been unbelievable, or uncommon, I couldn’t floor it with any kind of actuality from my very own life. So I used to be trusting the director and the opposite actors to inform me I used to be within the ballpark of it being plausible.
The movie leaves some ambiguity about among the story’s basic truths. Did Mike ever discuss in phrases a particular fact he wished you to be taking part in? Or was it extra about what the reality is for Greg in a given scene?
It was generally sort of onerous to attract it out of Mike, as a result of he’s so hesitant to say something important. I believe the best way he approaches issues is extra, “Oh! The best way you’re taking part in that’s not the best way I possibly imagined it, however now that it’s right here, that has its personal validity.” I believe that sort of thoughts might be what allowed him to create this story, and cope with these types of concepts. He has an actual humility in his opinions.
So how do you put together to play a personality that’s this variable, and on this a lot of a state of flux?
Simply rehearsing with Mike. I’m attempting to consider one thing that will be attention-grabbing to say about the best way we ready for it. It was actually simply Salma and I speaking. I discover that performing is extra sort of looking for the components of your individual persona or your individual life the place you’ll be able to create hyperlinks with the story and the characters, figuring out these, after which counting on these to create an emotional fact.
The place have been you most capable of determine with this character?
I believe that as I’ve gotten older, my relationship to time has gotten extra surreal. You can begin to look again in your life and assume, “That looks like one other lifetime in the past, after I was doing that, or after I was residing there.” So the uncertainty, generally that I can have now with — it sounds humorous, possibly, to say “What’s actual?” However the previous can begin to have a dreamlike high quality to it. Generally I really feel that in life, in each good and dangerous methods.
Basically, it is a movie a few man who has all of his methods of pondering modified. Are there tasks you’ve labored on that you simply determine as thought-provoking or world-altering in that manner? Roles that helped change the way you assume?
Yeah, this film clearly did, only for the explanations we’ve talked about — there being a lot uncertainty, and never fairly realizing what’s actual, the Bliss world or this ugly world we dwell in. The place ought to he keep? This, and Midnight in Paris, which had my character current in a Paris in his thoughts that feels extra actual than the life he finds himself in. Generally if I see a very nice film or TV present, or an ideal ebook, I can really feel that character — , Tony Soprano, he appears to me as actual as folks I’ve recognized in my precise life, ? He’s current. That’s what makes the present so shifting and so affecting. Fiction will be sort of a corridor of mirrors generally.
What about particular person folks you’ve labored with who’ve given you new methods of pondering? Anyone that significantly stands out?
Nicely, there are those that dwell their life in a manner you’ll be able to admire, or discover attention-grabbing. I keep in mind working with Jeff Goldblum. He’s doing a present on Nationwide Geographic now. He’s simply this very optimistic particular person. Even “optimistic” isn’t a robust sufficient phrase. You see this as a child at school: you generally bond over shared dislikes. Like, “I don’t just like the cafeteria meals! Yeah, me neither! And I don’t like homework!” After which generally you carry that on into being an grownup. However generally you meet individuals who aren’t concerned with bonding over shared dislikes. They solely wish to join over issues they’re enthusiastic about, not giving into any sort of damaging stuff. I do not forget that about Jeff, regardless that we didn’t work collectively that a lot — I simply respect how he was.
After which my good buddy Woody Harrelson. I believe he lives his life not worrying an excessive amount of about what folks assume. And I believe that’s a liberating concept for lots of people, to not fear a lot concerning the judgment of others.
Bliss launches on Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 5.