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Luke Wilson Has Had a Really Lousy But Successful Career

By Dustin Rowles | Career Assessments | December 19, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Career Assessments | December 19, 2016 |

Luke Wilson’s career peaked early. I’m not saying that to be mean. I’m saying it because it is fact. He was wonderful in Bottle Rocket, overshadowed as he was by his brother, Owen, but Luke’s career hit its highest point in 1998 with this scene, a cameo in Rushmore.

Poor Luke. He didn’t even get to deliver the amazing line. He was only the recipient.

Yes, he was fine in The Royal Tenenbaums, and if you remembered it was Luke Wilson who was the lead and not Dax Shepard in Idiocracy, you might have been fond of him in that, too, but how many Luke Wilson lines are you quoting from Idiocracy? He was fine in Old School too, if you could remember past Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. But again, how many Luke Wilson lines can you identify?


Because when you think of Luke Wilson, the first thing that pops into your head is “O.R. they?” Not Vacancy. Not My Super Ex-Girlfriend . Not Roger Goodell in Concussion. Not the boyfriend in Skeleton Twins. Not a guy in Adam Sandler’s The Ridiculous 6. Not the lead in Vince Gilligan’s screenwriting debut, Home Fries opposite Drew Barrymore, his forgettable role in the Charlie’s Angels movies, and/or as the boyfriend in Legally Blonde movies. Does anyone even remember that? If you’d asked me 10 minutes ago who the love interest was in the Legally Blonde movies, I probably would have offered Jonathan Bennett or Josh Lucas or Freddie Prinze Jr.

Did you like him in Meeting Evil, Straight A’s, Meadowland or You Kill Me? No, of course you didn’t, because you’ve never heard of those movies. What about Enlightened or Roadies? Oh, you didn’t watch those, either?

And yet, here were are, 22 years since Bottle Rocket, and Luke Wilson is still kicking. His career is doing fine. He’s flying under the radar, getting steady work, paying the bills, and showing up fifth billed (behind Topher Grace) in Chris Evans/Michelle Monaghan art films.

In a lot of ways, Luke Wilson is living the dream: Always recognizable, always employed, but never under any pressure to open a movie.

What’s he doing next? Rock Dog. Does that sound like an indie flick about a guitarist for a metal band who missed his window? Or a sequel to Ghost Dog, about a cousin to the samurai hitman who throws rocks at his enemies?

No, it’s far more literal. Luke Wilson plays a guitar-playing dog in a bland animated film that no one will remember 7 days after it’s released, but it won’t matter, because Luke Wilson will have already cashed his check and moved on to the next forgettable project, because Luke Wilson is living the dream.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.