Maxim India
THE AMERICAN EVERYMAN Image Credit: Maxim India
THE AMERICAN EVERYMAN Image Credit: Maxim India

The American Everyman

Luke Wilson has made a hugely successful career playing the straight man in a crazy world.

Keith Staskiewicz

Luke Wilson didn’t mean to be famous; he couldn’t really help it. His reassuring onscreen presence has always gone down easily. When he shows up in a movie it’s like somebody’s handing you a beer at a barbecue: Sure, of course you’ll take it.

With that idiosyncratic, Dallas beach bum twang—Luke’s is nylon-stringed to his brother Owen’s steel-stringed—and its shucksy stream of “goshes” and “no problems” and “aw, mans,” he was such a natural amateur that he ended up having to learn his craft on the fly. “I love reading about bands and music,” Wilson says now, more than two decades after Bottle Rocket first launched him, his brother, and Wes Anderson into orbit. “And I’m always surprised when it’s like, ‘Yeah, this guy, he didn’t even know how to play bass and we just started him playing bass.’ I basically feel like that’s what happened with me. I was in this little band and then suddenly I had to learn how to play.”

Wilson is so affably self-abnegating that he’s almost successful in selling himself short. But over his career he has shown he can shred the bass pretty well when he wants to, in particular during his stint on HBO’s two-season wonder Enlightened as Laura Dern’s rebounding drug-addict ex-husband, Levi. Now he is reuniting with Enlightened creator Mike White for a supporting role in the writer-d

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