Owen Wilson is one of those actors who manages to stay out of the spotlight, keeping the details of his personal life, relationships, and family out of gossip magazines and Twitter feeds.
Until now. Wilson spoke recently about his father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and for an actor who is known for playing slackers and cut-ups in the movies, his words about the private struggle are remarkably wise and heart-breaking in their simple honesty.
Speaking to Dallas Morning News, Owen said his father’s diagnosis and the 24-hour care that resulted wasn’t something he expected in life and certainly nothing he expected to handle well.
“But it does happen. Such things just happen in life. You just have to do your best to deal with it. You’ve got no choice but to accept it. And then, you sort of still look for the things to be grateful for. He is at home, taken care of, and he has people around that love him.”
For the Wilsons, unconditional, loving support is part of family life. Friend and journalist Mike Ritchey called the clan a “very strong family,” and their father, Bob, “one of the brightest, funniest, most ironic people that I’ve ever known. You can see that in all his boys.”
Ritchey, who is godfather to Owen’s younger brother, Luke, and has known the family since the 1970s, said that he and mother Laura “appreciated brains and talent and hard work,” and “above-board, stand-tall behavior.” Owen’s older brother, Andrew, recalled in a 1999 interview that his dad was supportive of every single endeavor his three boys undertook.
“For me and my brothers, there just wasn’t a bigger influence on us,” Owen added. “Maybe it sounds trite or something, but I really believe that his spirit gets carried on through me, the way I like to joke around.”
Bob Wilson is well-known for taking the helm of a Dallas public television affiliate, KERA, that then evolved into The News Hour With Jim Lehrer; it was Bob who hired Lehrer in the first place, putting him in charge of public affairs programming, the Associated Press added. Wilson’s mother, Laura, is a respected and decorated photographer.
Wilson said their life in the Dallas community has been crucial in supporting his parents through their health crisis, E! Online added. And his father’s Alzheimer’s has reinforced, in Wilson’s mind, the “value of friends… People have supported my mother and done stuff and that’s so valuable. The great thing about feeling you’re a part of a community is how it sustains you.”
Owen’s public comments come as his new film, No Escape, opens Wednesday. In it, Wilson plays a father desperate to save his family during a violent coup in a southeast Asian country. The role finally helped him to understand his own father’s stress and worry when he and his brothers were young. Owen is a father himself, with two sons aged 4 and 1.
“There’s a lot of stress inherent in being a parent. And worrying about your children and wanting them to be OK. When they’re born, you feel this love you’ve never felt before. If they were in danger, you’d just do anything that you could to help them.”
And now, as is often the case when kids grow up and parents age, the tables have turned, and the son will help take care of the father.
[Photo Courtesy Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]