Whether he's acting or co-writing brilliantly quirky character studies with director/writing partner Wes Anderson, Owen C. Wilson's work exudes an insouciant yet earnest charm and eccentric comic sensibility, making him one of the most promising new talents to emerge in the 1990s.
Born and reared in Dallas, Wilson raised enough hell in high school to get expelled from one institution in tenth grade, but he managed to attend college at the University of Texas in Austin and graduate in 1991. Along with his degree, Wilson's Austin years resulted in a budding partnership with a like-minded creative classmate, aspiring filmmaker Wes Anderson. Their first film together, a short about a bookstore heist called Bottle Rocket, played at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, attracting the attention of producer Polly Platt and writer/director James L. Brooks. With Brooks' support, Wilson and Anderson expanded the short into a feature, indie cult favorite Bottle Rocket (1996). Though it made little impression at the box office, Anderson and Wilson's distinctly offbeat, wry, and optimistic tale about aspiring criminal Dignan and his best friend Anthony (played by Wilson's brother Luke Wilson) earned ardent fans among cinéastes. Wilson's inspired performance as Dignan, not to mention his blond hair, large grin, and affable drawl, became his Hollywood calling card. That same year, Wilson also began a fertile association with actor/director Ben Stiller, appearing in one memorable scene as a smooth, ill-fated date in Stiller's black comedy The Cable Guy (1996).