Luke Wilson discusses movie to the horror scene

Maggie Nepomuceno

When one thinks of Luke Wilson, horror film star isn’t generally the first thing that comes to mind. Wilson, a member of the media-labeled “Frat Pack,” has been known for his comedic, romantic and indie roles. Now, with his new movie “Vacancy” opening everywhere tomorrow, Wilson makes the leap to the horror genre.

In “Vacancy,” a soon-to-be-divorced couple, David (Wilson) and Amy Fox (Kate Beckinsale), are forced to stay at a nearby motel when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. When David finds videos of graphic, low-budget slasher films, the couple soon realizes that the movies are filmed in the very “honeymoon suite” they are staying in. Surrounded by multiple hidden cameras filming their every move, David and Amy must escape before they become the victims of the next snuff film.

In a recent college conference call, Wilson discussed “Vacancy,” his transition from comedy to horror and working with friends and family.

We’re used to seeing you in comedic roles. What was it like working on the set of “Vacancy?”

It’s definitely not like the set of “Old School,” for instance, where it’s just like driving to work thinking, “I can’t wait to see Will [Ferrell] and Vince [Vaughn] ,” where it really is just like hanging around with friends. Working on “Vacancy,” I really was uptight and kind of unsure of myself and what we were doing, even though I had a good director and really enjoyed working with Kate. I had confidence in her and the director and director of photography, but I’d just think, “Am I in over my head?” All I could do is just kind of do the best I could, but having seen it, I really am happy with it. I do know that when I finished it, I did feel as if I’d accomplished something and certainly not something I’d done before.

Did you find the role physically taxing?

I really did. Obviously, it’s not like working in a coal mine or something, but I was just kind of thinking in terms of, “That’s a good story. This will be interesting to do.” Then you show up on the set, and it is just crawling through tunnels, getting stabbed, running, smashing mirrors, smashing windows. I wasn’t prepared for that, and it was kind of hard on my body.

Any favorite horror movies?

I love “The Shining.” “The Exorcist” is great and so well made, but it’s almost too much for me. I saw “Nightmare on Elm Street,” the first one, opening night, and that was pretty great. The “Halloween” movies, that was right when I was kind of right around 10 or so when those started coming out. I was a big fan of those and the “Friday the 13th” movies.

Did anything crazy happen on the set of “Vacancy?”

Well, we were on Stage 18, which is known to be cursed. There’s a scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where you can see somebody hang themselves in the background, which is pretty spooky. There’s nothing really crazy that happened. It was spooky on the set. A few times just coming back from lunch, I’d come back early, and the set would be empty. It was a really dark, huge set with a gas station and a motel, and it was just kind of the place where it was like, “I think I might just wait outside. I think I’ll wait until the guys get back from lunch.”

When you were in college, what did you think you were going to set out to do?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in college. It all just kind of came together. I was an English major and an art history minor. Then [my brother] Owen and Wes Anderson got “Bottle Rocket” going, and so, I just started working on that. But I was interested in the newspaper business, and I was interested in photography and really interested in the movies… I never really had a game plan in terms of what I was going to do.

You mentioned being an English major. What are your favorite books?

I sound like an idiot who was an English major. I’m aware how great Shakespeare was and is, but I was just kind of more into American literature, especially from the 1800s and 1900s. That was always the stuff that I responded to the most, like Mark Twain and Fitzgerald and people like that. I really like modern literature, like the Vintage Contemporary Classics. That’s where I first read Richard Ford and people like James Crumley.

What’s it like working with your brothers Owen and Andrew?

I like working with them both equally, but it’s interesting to work with Owen. He’s one of those guys that, being a writer and kind of being wired the way he is on every movie, he kind of completely rewrites and overhauls characters in a good way. The guy just has tons of ideas. He’s one of those guys like Will Ferrell. Somebody yells cut, and the whole crew is laughing.

After this role, where do you see yourself going next?

I guess I’m most interested in trying to get my own movies made and trying to write something myself and then direct it with my brother, Andrew. I enjoy acting with Owen, and I’d like to get to a place where us three brothers could make our own movies and have a production company that’s not just one of those kind of vanity things that some people have but actually discovers people … There are great filmmakers out there that just need a break. It would be fun to have a hand in helping people like that along.