One of the Guest Whisperer guidelines for talk show appearances is to keep stories and pitches in the 30-to-60 second range. This is partly because audiences are conditioned by the fast pace of shows to expect bite-sized nuggets. Another reason is that short anecdotes keep the guest on track and moving forward.
Rules are made to be broken, of course and Luke Wilson has a Jimmy-Stewart-aw-shucks kind of persona that would feel straitjacketed in a rushed approach to guesting. Yet I was still worried at first when he launched into a wandering story about shooting a movie at a girl’s college. You could feel the natives in the bleachers getting restless.
But his laid back approach began paying off, though, as he pulled the audience into his ordinary-guy-in-a-star’s-world life with stories like the teamster driver who picked him up for an early morning shoot. Wilson was dragging his feet, prompting the driver to admonish him with, “Look, I’ve driven Oliver Stone and Val Kilmer and I’m not in the mood for any of your B.S.!” When he related how fans often accosted him with “Hey, you’re one of the Owens brothers, right?”, we know the universe is keeping his ego in check.
Promoting his new movie, Henry Poole Is Here, was a tough task, since it is a quirky little, low-key comedy-drama. As Letterman noted: “A nice simple story – no explosions, no lasers, no Martians…” At which point Wilson interrupted with “A lotta nudity, though!” It broke Dave and the audience up, letting us know that the movie, like Luke Wilson, might have some surprises up its sleeve.