Interview Magazine, May 2000.
Everyone's about to be ape over this laugh-making, risk-taking performer. 

SHERYL: You recently finished shooting Shanghai Noon with Jackie Chan. You had to ride a horse in that movie quite a bit. Did you learn how to ride on Armageddon[1998]? 

OWEN: I was on a barrel in Armageddon. They shot a guy on a horse in Arizona or somewhere while I was probably drinking a smoothie in Los Angeles. It was so embarrassing. They didn't even have me on a soundstage. Because they needed to get the sky, they had me out in the middle of the parking lot on a barrel that they kind of moved, with a fan blowing into my face. 

SHERYL: [laughs] OK. Well, how was it working with Jackie Chan? 

OWEN: It's a buddy film, so we met before we started filming to try to develop some chemistry. It was a joke, the meeting. I don't think we said five words to each other. It seemed like there was a big language barrier and, beyond that, maybe even a personality barrier. Then when we got on the set, he could not have been a better guy. He was really fun to act with. You would think that he could get away with being a jerk if he felt like it, and instead he was probably the hardest-working person. 

SHERYL: Well, here's something I've noticed about you: You have a cult following...The day we were walking around the Boston commons, so many people were coming up who knew you from Bottle Rocket[1996] and Rushmore[1998], both of which you cowrote, and just everything that you've been in. 

Owen: It's nice to have someone come up and mention Bottle Rocket. That was the first thing that I wrote with my friend Wes Anderson, and he directed it, my two brothers were in it with me, and we filmed it in Dallas, where I grew up-so there's a lot of personal stuff. Hardly any people saw it when it came out in theatres, but then it got a second or third chance on cable and video. If somebody comes up and compliments me on Armageddon or Anaconda[1997] [laughs], it's nice, but it's not really the same. 

SHERYL: Although they probably got two thumbs-up. 

OWEN: I know. That drives me insane that movies that are personal, independent-spirit, handcrafted movies, such as Rushmore, get thumbs-down, and then Anaconda and The Haunting [1999] get thumbs-up. I can live to be a hundred, and I'll never understand it. But it was a nice vindication when [Roger] Ebert had [Martin] Scorcese on his show the other day, and Scorcese said Bottle Rocket was one of this top ten favorite movies of the decade. Scorcese is the person Wes and I talked about the most when we were classmates in college. To have him say that about this movie - which was one of the worst-testing movies in Columbia's history, or at least so they told us, and which literally made only a couple hundred thousand dollars when it initially came out - makes you feel good. 

SHERYL: One of the things that I think is interesting about Bottle Rocket and Rushmore is the strident naivete with which you perceive life; all the characters seem to have this innocence. How are you able to maintain that when you live in L.A. and work in an industry that likes tomake films steeped in cynicism? 

OWEN: I don't know. When we first sat down to work on Bottle Rocket we wanted to do a Mean Streets-type movie, a real gritty street movie. But we obviously went in a different direction. I don't know that we set out with any intention to do something that's a reaction against the cynicism. I think it was more when Wes and I would get together, those were the things that made us laugh or that we responded to. 

SHERYL: What's the best part, for you, of your work? 

OWEN: I was reading some Bob Dylan interview where he said, ''It beats nine-to-five. It beat it yesterday, it beats it today, and it will beat it tomorrow.'' That's how I feel. I just thank God that I'm able to make a living doing something that I can have a good time doing, and be creative. 

SHERYL: How do you feel about being photographed with a monkey? (The Magazine has a picture of Owen w/ a Orangutan) 

OWEN: At first I was bummed out, like, Why did they choose a monkey for me? Why not a dog, or a lion? It wasn't just a cute little chimp; it was an orangutan. It was the most insulting monkey of all! You know that image of Reagan, where whenever anybody would make fun of him being an idiot, they'd show him with the monkey crawling on his head? I thought that's what would happen to me. But then they had two other people they were taking pictures of with monkeys, so I didn't feel singled out. You've got to admit, out of Clint Eastwood's movies, those are maybe his... 

SHERYL: Finest. 

OWEN: I wouldn't say his finest, but Every Which Way but Loose[1978], Any Which Way You Can[1980]: That monkey climbed. 

SHERYL: A memorable series. Did you have any moments where you felt like you connected with the monkey? 

OWEN: The monkey made me feel a little bit creepy, just because they're super-strong. And it smelled odd. But then I got used to it. 

SHERYL: And then you guys went out to lunch? [owen laughs] Your mom is a well-known photographer. You've been around that since you were really young. Do you enjoy having your picture taken? 

OWEN: In general it's not that bad, but it can be. Because of the way mothers can aggravate you, it's more difficult when my mom wants to take my picture than somebody else. She worked with Richard Avedon for about seven years on that ''In the American West'' project. He took some photographs of me and my two brothers for it. That exhibit was a little freakish, full of drifters and insane people, and that was how he made us look. Later, when we started having teenage problems, getting into trouble, my dad wold say, ''Well, that's what makes Avedon a genius: He saw what was coming.''