In the new animated film Free Birds, Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson play turkeys who travel back in time to get off the Thanksgiving menu for good and although the friendship between their characters has a rocky start, the camaraderie is certainly evident off-screen.
During our interview, the two traded quips, jokes and even finish each other’s sentences. It’s not hard to imagine what filming must have been like… in fact, they joked that director Jimmy Hayward had to separate them for goofing off.
“We’d laugh at what the other guy did and think it was hysterical,” said Harrelson. “Oh, we were our own best audience,” added Wilson.
The lighthearted comedy is fun for kids and adults, which makes sense since both actors have children of their own. Wilson has a baby on the way, as well as two-year-old son, Ford, with ex-girlfriend Jade Duell and Harrelson has three daughters with wife Laura Louie – Deni, 20; Zoe, 16; and Makani, 7.
Have your kids seen the film?
“I did one of the talk shows the other day, so they sent some clips over, and I showed them to Ford, who’s almost three,” said Wilson. “And, bless his heart, but he just loved it. He thought it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.”
Harrelson joked, “My little girl Makani, she’s seven, and I asked her the other day what her favorite movie was honestly. She said Free Birds. Of course, I had asked her every other day before that and sent her to bed without dinner…”
Speaking of dinner, will turkey still be on the Thanksgiving menu?
While the director insists that Free Birds is not an anti-meat movie, Harrelson is an outspoken advocate for a vegan lifestyle. When asked whether his children eat meat, he replied with a smile, “I brought them up vegan. They’re still vegan. I did give them the choice, after a certain age – 40, they could change. No, I’m just kidding.
“But I’ve got to say, they hardly ever get sick, my kids. They’re just in great health. And it really has a lot to do with your diet.
Wilson agreed with his co-star, saying, ” You are committed, and you eat very healthy. And although I’m not vegetarian, I have learned from you guys some great stuff, and I do eat healthier.” He quipped that even Harrelson’s dog Snowy is vegetarian….
“You’ve never seen a more miserable dog, usually dogs are so excited when their bowl gets put down. And you’ll see a bowl of Swiss chard and kale. And Snowy’s like, are you kidding me?”
What’s your biggest “dad fail”?
“I take after my dad a little bit,” said Wilson. “My dad was not mechanical and I don’t have that ability to read directions and then put stuff together. I remember my dad with the toaster, he couldn’t even figure out how to turn that off. He’d just have to unplug it.”
“My dad fails have to do with if I’m working and can’t go to a play they’re in, that drives me crazy,” said Harrelson. “I have one coming up where my daughter’s Ophelia in Hamlet… but I think I’m going to work it out. I think I’ll be able to go…”
“It sounds like this example you were supposed to give of a dad fail is really going to be a dad victory…” interjected Wilson.
“Thanks for noticing, by the way,” Harrelson responded.
How do you decide which movies to show your kids?
“I don’t think it’s the end of the world taking and exposing your kids. I think maybe some violent stuff you would want to wait on, but, I think, sometimes, people can be overly protective,” said Wilson. “You look at a story like Where the Wild Things Are, which I love – there’s a real edge to that story. And I think kids have a greater capacity or ability to deal with that stuff than maybe we give them credit for.”
And last but not least, what is your best parenting advice?
Wilson: “Well, they say that the number one thing is to be consistent, and I guess I try to do that a little bit. But, I actually remember you saying that a big thing, right before Ford was born is just to hug your kids a lot, and I do do that, which comes very easily because he’s very huggable. And so, it sounds corny, but you can’t hug your kids enough or give them that confidence that they’re loved.”
Harrelson: “That was great. I swear I’m welling up on this. It’s beautiful.”
For more of this dynamic duo, don’t miss Free Birds in theaters starting November 1