Lists

Luke vs. Owen: Which Wilson Brother Comes Out on Top?

We all have a favorite Wilson brother. But here's a scientific analysis to determine whether Luke or Owen is better.
We all have a favorite Wilson brother. But here's a scientific analysis to determine whether Luke or Owen is better. Vince Bucci/Getty
This is a big year for the Wilson family. Dallas-born brothers Luke and Owen are celebrating 25 years since the release of their debut film Bottle Rocket, from every hipster’s favorite director, Wes Anderson. In a quarter of a century, the siblings have made Dallas proud with their performances in both film and television.

When we spoke to Luke earlier this summer, he'd just shown he could be as compelling in inspirational sports movies as he is in wacky comedies; 12 Mighty Orphans cast Luke as Rusty Russell, the Texas football coach that led a poor school of orphans to the Texas high school state championship in the midst of the Great Depression.

Owen has also been exploring a different side of his usual on-screen persona with his recurring role as Mobius M. Mobius on Disney+’s Marvel spinoff series Loki. Owen plays an investigator with the Time Variance Authority who cracks a case on time-traveling bad guys, but is forced to form an unlikely partnership with the titular god of mischief.

The brothers could look almost identical if it wasn’t for their distinctive hair color, but each has carved out an individual career. Luke has often worked on independent character-driven films, while Owen tends to appear in more crowd-pleasing studio comedies. However, that’s no strict rule; Luke is also known for his performances in blockbusters such as Legally Blonde and Old School, and Owen has dabbled in more arthouse fare with his acclaimed roles in Midnight in Paris and Inherent Vice.


In the nature of sibling rivalry, we’ve decided to pit the two against each other. Which Wilson brother deserves the win?

In Luke’s Favor: He loves local restaurants. And he’s super nice!

In Owen’s Favor: The Wes Anderson factor. While both brothers appeared in Bottle Rocket and The Royal Tenenbaums, Owen has been a more frequent collaborator with the Texas filmmaker in films such as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, The Grand Budapest Hotel and this year’s The French Dispatch.

In Luke’s Favor: He sort of predicted the future. Remember Idiocracy, the sci-fi comedy that starred Luke as a guy from the present-day who travels to a future where mankind is really, really dumb? For a few reasons, that premise is starting to feel less like a high-concept satire than reality.

In Owen’s Favor: He’s Lightning McQueen. The Cars series isn’t quite as beloved among Pixar classics as the Toy Story or Incredibles films, but being a permanent fixture at Disney World never hurts.

In Luke’s Favor: Better television roles. Owen may dominate the film space, but Luke had a memorable recurring role as Ashton Kutcher’s older brother on That ‘70s Show, a leading part in the HBO series Enlightened and appears on the superhero action series Stargirl.

In Owen’s Favor: He’s Oscar-nominated. Owen contributed to Wes Anderson’s screenplay for The Royal Tenenbaums and thus shared in the Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

In Luke’s Favor: He hasn’t worked with Woody Allen. Sorry Owen, but that’s always going to stain your filmography.

In Owen’s Favor: This video that replaces all the lightsaber sounds in Star Wars duels with Owen saying “Wow.” Just watch it.

In Luke’s Favor: The meta factor. Luke can be self-deprecating, having shown up as a lightly fictionalized version of himself in Scream 2’s “in-universe” movie Stab.

In Owen’s Favor:
Iconic characters. Doofus male model Hansel in Zoolander is one of the more endearing comedic characters of the last 20 years, and he even managed to survive Zoolander 2 with a little dignity left. Throw in the cowboy Jebediah from the Night at the Museum movies for the kiddos, and Owen beats brother when it comes to recurring franchises.

The winner? Andrew Wilson, the eldest of the three siblings. We had to cheat. Andrew often appears in movies alongside his brothers, and he directed them both in the 2005 indie comedy The Wendell Baker Story.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in About.com, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.