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Luke Wilson talks “Meeting Evil” and working with Samuel L. Jackson

meeting evil

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Luke Wilson has made a career out of playing nice guys swept up in a sea of wild characters, but in “Meeting Evil” his nice-guy character meets an entirely different sort of wild element — one that puts a dark spin on what a nice guy is capable of when pushed to the brink.

IFC spoke to Wilson about the new film, which he stars in alongside Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the mysterious, sinister stranger who takes a downtrodden salesman (Wilson) on a deadly journey.

“As a movie-goer, I like all kinds of movies, so I always appreciate the chance to do different stuff,” said Wilson of breaking from his usual comedic roles for this moody, tense thriller. “Of course, as an actor, I feel like I can do pretty much anything but a musical, so it’s always nice to get asked to do things that people don’t immediately think of me doing — something like this, which is more of dark, film-noir movie.”

“There were so many years when I was first starting out that I didn’t think about it,” he explained. “I was just trying to stay busy and make a living. People would say, ‘Hey, you sure play a lot of boyfriends.’ [Laughs] I didn’t even think about it then, but eventually I was like, ‘Wait, am I doing that too much?’ I’m really just doing whatever comes my way and trying to stay busy and get better at what I’m doing. It’s nice, though, getting older and being able to do different roles.”

Over the course of his career, Wilson has appeared in films alongside Gene Hackman, Bill Murray, and a host of other celebrated actors. With “Meeting Evil,” he adds Jackson to that impressive list — something that isn’t lost on the actor. Fortunately, he had a good idea of what to expect from his co-star.

“It’s funny, because Sam and I had actually gotten to be friendly before ‘Meeting Evil,'” he said. “George Lopez had gotten us to play in a golf tournament, so me and George and Sam played as a team at this tournament in Palm Springs. We wound up winning it together, but it was one of those things where I didn’t take it that seriously, but Sam was pretty intense about it. I was thinking I’d just play golf to have fun and be outside, but it became one of those things where I was like, ‘God, I have to concentrate, because Sam really wants to win this thing!’ So we became friends doing that.”

“Working with him, he’s one of those people who reminds me of Gene Hackman in terms of how much an icon he is, and I’ll get worried about a lot of different things,” he confessed. “I’ll be worried about being too much in awe of him, or being able to just be in the moment, because some of those guys, you can’t believe you’re standing there with them. He’s just incredible to work with. I love how much he works and how intense he is. He’s one of those people who likes to know everything about what he’s working on.”

And like any good thriller, “Meeting Evil” develops in a slow boil that leaves its audience guessing right up until the closing credits. Given some actors’ preference to not know any narrative surprises that await their characters (so they can react more authentically), IFC asked Wilson how he approaches stories with a twist.

“I have to read the whole script ahead of time, yeah,” he said. “I’ve heard Woody Allen movies are like that, though, where you get handed the pages the day of filming. That would be interesting to do, but I’ve never really done it.”

“I’ve worked on movies that are being rewritten as you go, but you take so long and so much time doing it, that it’s not really an issue knowing what’s going to happen or how the movie is going to end,” he added. “Working with somebody like Sam, you’re just in the moment. And having a good director is helpful to keep track of the story and build up the tension.”

Still, Wilson said that doing a film like “Meeting Evil” definitely flexes different acting muscles than the comedies he’s been doing for so much of his career.

“I definitely notice it doing a movie like this, or any movie that’s more serious and has emotions,” he explained. “It’s fun to work on a good comedy, because you’re in a good mood and the goals are always very clear for the movie and day-to-day, scene-to-scene. You’re just trying to do something that’s funny, whether you think it’s funny or the director or the other actors or people on set. For lack of a better term, it’s instant gratification.”

“Something like [‘Meeting Evil’], though, you just have to be confident in yourself and what you’re doing because it’s not as clear-cut,” he continued. “When you’re doing something that’s supposed to be scary or filled with tension or emotion, you just have to do the best job you can, and that’s really all you can hope for. You have to tell yourself that sometimes things will feel a little stagnant, but you have to remember that there are all these other elements that will add to it.”

“Meeting Evil” is available now via On-Demand video, and will arrive in theaters May 4.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…