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Owen Wilson, Rel Schulman, And Henry Joost On Secret Headquarters, Super Suits, And Pop Culture - Exclusive Interview

Owen Wilson isn't a stranger to the superhero genre, but he's finally getting his superhero moment in "Secret Headquarters." Directing duo Rel Schulman and Henry Joost were dying to get the actor into a super suit, and the time has come. Wilson joined "Secret Headquarters" fresh off the heels of "Loki," but this time, Wilson's character, Jack, is the one with powers. The actor has a slew of credits spanning back to the early '90s, including "Armageddon," "Wedding Crashers," "Starsky & Hutch," "Zoolander," and "Night at the Museum."

With a résumé this expansive, it's no surprise that Schulman and Joost are big fans of the actor's work. The directors are no slouches, either, having co-directed projects like "Paranormal Activity 3," "Project Power," and "Nerve." Of course, the directors got their big break in 2010 when they created the documentary "Catfish" alongside Schulman's brother Nev — which led to the still-running series, "Catfish: The TV Show." It's not every day you help coin a word for a cultural phenomenon that's still in play over a decade later. In addition to their directing credits, Schulman and Joost have writing credits for a number of their projects, including "Secret Headquarters."

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Wilson, Schulman, and Joost discussed "Secret Headquarters," the movie's pop culture influences, and Wilson's super suit debut. Wilson also discussed working with Walker Scobell and the film's family angles.

It's all in the suit

Owen, you've been doing quite a few major sci-fi-esque superhero projects lately, between "Secret Headquarters" and "Loki." What draws you to these larger-than-life roles, and what are some of the highlights of working on these projects?

Owen Wilson: Well, with this one, it was getting the script. I remember some of the scenes that rang true to me — the stuff about being a kid and your first crush and fitting in with your friends — so much so that I actually read them to my two boys. It was interesting seeing them get caught up in the story. I took that as a very good sign, and ... I don't know; it felt like a fresh take on the superhero genre.

Rel Schulman: We've been loving Owen Wilson movies for so long. We've been saying ourselves, "How come no one's putting this guy in a tight, form-fitting superhero suit?" Are they missing something?

Wilson: Unfortunately, you're going to get the answer.

Henry Joost: Yes.

Schulman: The answer turns out to be a little difficult.

Wilson: The answer turns out to be less carbs.

Schulman: No, it ... turns out Owen's a terrific athlete, actually. A lot of the superhero moves came naturally to you.

Wilson: They did.

Joost: The suit looks natural, too. You were born to wear that suit.

Wilson: You guys did ask me at one point, "Were you working on a movie called 'Cars' or 'Carbs'?" I took that as a sign to [have] maybe a little less spaghetti ... That's when I moved over to sourdough bread.

Schulman: Less spaghetti, you'll be ready.

Keeping pop culture alive one 13-year-old at a time

Henry and Rel, there are a slew of pop culture references in the movie, from Han Solo to Hermione Granger and even Britney Spears. What are some of your favorites, and what movies or shows or pop culture elements helped inspire the movie?

Schulman: Geez. Now maybe we need to read the classics again and improve our references. No — we all love pop culture. When you make a movie with 13-year-olds who are so in the middle of it, you have a really tight feedback loop where they check us on pop culture references that either feel stale or ... Sometimes we'd say [something], and they'd be like, "We don't know who that is."

Joost: Often.

Wilson: And [there were the] new words that they had.

Schulman: A lot of them came from the kids.

Joost: We listen to the kids, and our references are –

Wilson: [That] is a good message for parents. Listen to the kids.

Joost: That actually kind of is the message of the movie: Listen to your kids.

Keeping the heroics in the family

Owen, among all the action sequences and superhero gadgets, there's a heavy focus on family. Why is that angle so compelling to you, and what are some of your favorite moments in working with Walker Scobell?

Wilson: My brothers and I idolized our dad, and [there's] that dynamic between fathers and sons where there's that looking up [to], but then also, you need to separate and [begin] to see your father as a real person. I felt that was genuine between my character Jack and [his son] Charlie. Those scenes ... I remember it was one of the first scenes that we filmed, and [producer Jerry] Bruckheimer was there and came up to Walker and [me], and said he felt that it felt real. I felt that it was funny and entertaining, and also that it was grounded in a reality.

"Secret Headquarters" is now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.

This interview was edited for clarity.