Rom-com fans know Owen Wilson as John in Marley & Me, Gil in Midnight in Paris and Matty in How Do You Know, in which he played opposite such leading ladies as Jennifer Aniston, Rachel McAdams and Reese Witherspoon. Or, for Marvel fans, they'll know him as Mobius in this year's Loki series.
But when the Oscar nominee isn't charming the pants off of us with his onscreen roles, he actually has a pretty normal life as a father of two boys.
Owen, 52, shares 10-year-old Robert with Jade Duell, 7-year-old Finn with Caroline Lindqvist and, reportedly, 2-year-old daughter Lyla with Varunie Vongsvirates, but he likes to keep his family matters private (save for an occasional outing, like one with his eldest son in New York in 2015).
However, in an Aug. 18 interview with Esquire, Owen shed some light on his life out of the spotlight—the part of him that we don't see all that often.
According to writer Ryan D'Agostino, Owen lives close to the mothers of his boys and they all get along. "Owen has the boys on a single-dad schedule," Ryan wrote. "The other evening, he was trimming the younger one's fingernails, and the boy was getting upset and saying, 'Don't go below the line!' and Owen was saying, 'Just relax!' and the whole scene was fraught with tension."
As the journalist described, "Afterward, Owen said to his son, 'What do you say?' and the boy said, dutifully, 'Thaaank youu,' and then muttered to his brother, 'for nothing.' Owen heard it."
The Wedding Crashers alum told his interviewer he can relate, saying, "It's funny how we get cast in these roles, because it seems like just yesterday I was the one muttering ‘for nothing,' and now I'm the person in this role. Once you're an adult, you think childhood was so innocent and beautiful, but you forget."
He said it reminded himself of the film Last Tango in Paris, starring Marlon Brando. "That's why I liked in Last Tango when she's talking about how beautiful being a kid is, and Brando says, ‘Is it beautiful to be made into a tattletale? Or be forced to admire authority?' That's a big part of being a kid: being broken," Owen explained. "It's like Cool Hand Luke—I'm breaking him. And then he says, ‘For nothing.' That was me. That's how you wind up at military school, all those ‘for nothing's."
Owen also shared another highlight of his time with his sons: telling them stories at night in their PJs, the same way his dad used to do with him and brothers Andrew and Luke Wilson.
He recalled, "Sometimes telling the stories at night, you do take a little pride that these guys are into this story! One of them even said, ‘Dad, you should do something with this. This is a really good story!' It was about this little pack of boys in a postapocalyptic world, and there's a pack of dogs—I play to my audience."
Now that he has a decade of experience as a dad under his belt, Owen revealed one of his hidden talents that seems like it would be a hit with his kids.
"I don't, ahh, cook," he said slowly, while suppressing a smile. "I make pretty good sandwiches."
When asked what kind, he responded with a grin, "Well, it's really like a peanut butter and jelly." Obviously, Ryan had to ask: "Crunchy or smooth? This is what people want to know."
He replied, "I think I prefer the crunchy. Although I actually use almond butter, but I call it a peanut butter and jelly."
In addition to getting personal about his relationship with his sons, Owen also spoke about his deep connection with his family. In particular, his close relationship with his brother Andrew, who was there for Owen after he reportedly attempted suicide in 2007.
"[Owen] recovered from that awful episode with friends and family supporting him daily, wrapping their love around him, sleeping by his side," Ryan writes. "Andrew stayed in his house with him after that, rising with him each morning and writing up little schedules for each day so that life seemed at first manageable and then, at some point, a long time later, actually good."
Owen has declined to talk about that part of his past, but he reflected on his perspective on life during a separate email with Esquire.
"Sometimes it seems like life is being played by Gene Hackman in Hoosiers. Tough but fair. He's going to demand a lot, but if you play as a team and do your job, things work out. That's a good feeling. Things make sense," he wrote.
However, the star added, "But of course sometimes life seems to be played by Tom Hardy in The Revenant, some nightmarish guy trying to kill you, where even if you get the upper hand, he's still going to be there at the end whispering, ‘This ain't gonna bring your boy back' or your dad back or any good times from your past back. Or whatever. And when life's being played by that guy, you just gotta hang on and wait for it to pass."