Interview: Little Focker's Dustin Hoffman And Owen Wilson

Over the past few years, I’ve been to a number of press conferences, but this one was a different breed. In fact, this wasn’t much of a press conference at all, rather a Dustin Hoffman and Owen Wilson comedy show and even though this event was supposed to be about their upcoming film, Little Fockers, I had absolutely no problem with this duo going off track.

Just to get a little Focker information out there, both Wilson and Hoffman are reprising their roles for round three. Hoffman is back as Greg’s father, Bernie, but sadly, he’s missing his grandchildren’s birthday party because he’s abroad studying the Flamenco. On the other hand, not only is Pam’s ex, Kevin (Wilson), back in the picture, he’s coming to Chicago for the festivities.

From the moment Hoffman and Wilson walked into the room, we knew what we were in for. Not only did the pair enjoy bantering with each other, but with the press, too. Hoffman was pretty busy passing around French fries, talking about the colored foam tips of the microphones and making napkin boobs most of the time, but the guys did squeeze in a quick discussion about certain film-related elements like the removal of certain improvised scenes and their hopes for the fourth installment. You can check it all out in the interview below, but, before you continue, one word of advice, insert laughs in between just about every response. Enjoy.

Dustin Hoffman: I had my choice for who I wanted to do this junket day with, Barbra Streisand or Owen Wilson and there was not a moment of hesitation. [Laughs]

Would you call this film a roadmap for marriages and something that can be used to guide couples through the tough times?

Owen Wilson: You know, what you just said reminded me. We were riding up on the elevator and [turns to Hoffman] were those strangers that said that?

Hoffman: Yes.

Wilson: They were talking about what would make a good t-shirt and one said that their father had told him here in New York because they kept looking at the map, put down the map and feel the city.

Hoffman: Now, I’m curious; how does that relate to the question of marriage?

Wilson: [Laughs] Did you say something about a map? Roadmap? Yeah, that’s what it was. Put down the roadmap question and just feel these guys sitting here.

Hoffman: There is nothing more unnatural than family or marriage. That’s why they’re both so difficult.

Wilson: You don’t choose your family and Dustin took it one step further and goes, ‘You don’t even choose your wife.’

Hoffman: You just wake up and suddenly clunk, you’re ready. ‘Okay, I guess that’s it.’

Wilson: It’s already written.

Hoffman: Yes, it is. It is. And that’s why arranged marriages I think make a lot of sense because you’re not under the pressure of being in love. It’s an easy contract. You don’t have to like each other and then whatever happens, happens.

Wilson: It does seem to take some of the romance out of courting though.

Hoffman: There’s nothing wrong with courting or romance, it just shouldn’t have to go into a contractual phase, which is marriage.

Wilson: Somebody came up to me at the museum.

Hoffman: Which museum? Be specific.

Wilson: The Met. [Laughs]

Hoffman: In New York?

Wilson: [Laughs] Yes.

Hoffman: Did you go for that mummy thing?

Wilson: [Laughs] I love when you said, ‘be specific,’ it was like you’ve hammered me on that before. ‘Owen, that’s your problem. Come on. Get back on. Be specific, I’ve told you that.’

Hoffman: Was it for the mummy thing?

Wilson: No, it was more just so I could …

Hoffman: Meet girls.

Going into another one of these movies, what do you look forward to the most?

Hoffman: A back end.

Wilson: [Laughs] A lot of the funniest comedians I’ve always noticed they’re able to say something really funny [with a] blank expression. They don’t telegraph with a laugh.

Hoffman: I think – I’ll answer for Owen – I think that he should wind up with Teri Polo because I don’t think that’s a good marriage. That a bad marriage, Ben and Teri. And I think that we start off the next one with Teri having a tattoo of Owen on her back, not necessarily just his face.

Wilson: You’re throwing your son under the bus!

Hoffman: Yes I am. Anyway, you take it from there.

Wilson: I just do the slow pitch softballs up to Dustin, let him just Babe Ruth them out of the park. Well, you know, it would be nice in the next one if we had a few more things to do.

Hoffman: We would like to have more action together. Most of our stuff takes place during junkets. [Laughs] May I throw the question back at you? And did you pick the red tip of your microphone?

I did not, no.

Hoffman: Just thought I’d throw that out. [Laughs] It would have been my choice. What do you think the fourth should be? Did everybody like this film? Did you get some giggles?

I think the fourth has to be – they keep saying they have their own thing going and it’s fine as long as the in-laws are away, so if everyone moves onto the block, is that thing still going to be good? One family on each side of their house.

Hoffman: Jewish side, Christian side so to speak. I could see [Owen] getting Bar Mitzvahed.

Wilson: Bar Mitzvahed?

Hoffman: In the first reel because Teri Polo could have converted and we never knew that before and now she’s left Ben for you and she wants you to become Jewish.

Wilson: Well, there is a little bit of a kind of rabbinical side to Kevin that wouldn’t make that as farfetched as it might appear.

Hoffman: Can you do the “ch” sound? “Baruch.”

Wilson: I can’t do that and I can’t trill my R’s.

Hoffman: You don’t have to trill; that’s French. Can you do “baruch atah?” Just try it.

Wilson: Baruch ateau.

Hoffman: No, not “teau.” “Tah.”

They’re both such …

Hoffman: Did you pick your orange tip?

I did. I asked specifically for the orange. Owen, you were actually a little like Cash and do so much more.

Hoffman: What did he say?

Wilson: He liked Cash.

Hoffman: Who’s that?

How do you prepare for that?

Wilson: The character I played in The Royal Tenenbaums.

Hoffman: Oh!

Wilson: And you said this character reminded you?

More so in the first film.

Wilson: Well, I think it did seem like it was a progression where in the first one he says, ‘Who better to model yourself after than JC?’ And so he took that and now he’s kind of moved more into this inner faith spiritual Zen kind of guru while still being a Wall Street rich guy. It was just funny stuff that we were coming up with.

Hoffman: [Makes snoring noise.]

Wilson: I’m not used to being the real straight man, but it’s just tossing them up and this guy is just like, [laughs].

Hoffman: We counter very well.

Red tip.

Hoffman: Yes!

Wilson: Did you choose that red tip? [Laughs]

Yes, I did choose the red tip. Would you prefer that I had the orange?

Hoffman: No! Never!

Wilson: Red’s more Christmassy.

My question is can I have some of those French fries? No …

Hoffman: Yes!

[Hoffman gets up and brings out the fries.]

Hoffman: [To the first reporter] Pass them on.

When you have a franchise like this …

Hoffman: A French fry like this? Oh, sorry.

When you have a franchise like this one and you know who your characters are, was there anything in this particular film that startled you or that you were surprised by in regards to your character?

Hoffman: Yes, that my part was so much smaller. [Hoffman unwraps a sandwich and crinkles the paper into the microphone.]

Wilson: [To Hoffman] Why are you being so stingy with the ketchup? No one’s going to get any ketchup?

Hoffman: What? Are they going to go like that and pass it on? Okay, let’s try it.

[Hoffman brings out the ketchup.]

Dustin, you do have a much smaller part in this film, so I’m curious what was it that brought you back?

Wilson: I think as you looked forward to was this junket with me. You said that sustained you. A lot of actors don’t look forward to junkets.

Hoffman: I said if the stuff that Owen and I have to do in the film, if we’re allowed to improvise, then I’ll do it and they kept their word and they let us improvise and it’s not in the film.

Were there any particular scenes that you wish they had kept?

Hoffman: God knows. I hope there’s a DVD of the deleted.

Wilson: Well, there was not a deleted scene. You’re talking about within the different takes of the one scene we did.

Hoffman: No, the first half of the scene in the what do you call it? In the tent scene. We had a whole thing together.

Wilson: They cut that?

Hoffman: During rehearsal, remember I go …

Wilson: Oh, yeah. Where you slap me.

Hoffman: Yes and then we changed it to a hug.

Wilson: I have a confession to make. I cut that.

Hoffman: [Hoffman plays with his napkin] Why?

Wilson: [Laughs] You seemed very fit. I didn’t …

Hoffman: [Still distracted by the napkin] You never told me that.

What are you making?

[Hoffman puts the napkin on his head. He made napkin boobs.]

Hoffman: Now, you have a choice; there or there? [He moves the napkin to his chest.] I can teach you that if you have children. [Laughs]

Owen, you give some well-meaning, but not so great romantic advice in the film. Have either of you ever gotten terrible romance tips?

Hoffman: Romantic advice? Do you have to speak so generally? Does that mean use a condom?

Owen: I actually think the advice [Greg] gives is pretty good, but then Kevin kind of takes it to this extreme of – I think he just gets a piece of twine and ties it around her finger, but also you get the feeling that Kevin, although he doesn’t admit it, there’s still something with Pam obviously and I think that’s Ben’s worst nightmare, that a single Kevin is back on the scene. Cue the snoring.

Hoffman: [Makes snoring noise.] Romantic advice? Well, my wife, she broke three or four cardinal rules because we slept together on the first date and you are told not to do that.

Wilson: Did you really?

Hoffman: Yes we did. This was going to be her first movie star, her first older man, her first ex – someone who had broken up with their wife - and the first date and she did all four. And then she said I ruined it by calling the next day. That probably went again every romantic advice because she told me later that her grandmother always said, ‘If you give away the milk, you have to buy the cow,’ or something. What is that?

They won’t buy the cow.

Hoffman: They won’t buy the cow!

Wilson: That’s not true, is it? [Laughs] In fact, it’s more likely if you love the milk, you’re going to buy the cow.

Hoffman: Before your question I want Owen to expand on that. It’s not true?

Wilson: If you have a great glass of cold milk that’s really refreshing, you’d be even more inclined not to let that cow go.

Hoffman: Right - and you try to find some chocolate chip cookies.

Perri Nemiroff

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.