Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler Talk Parenting

Amy Poehler in Free Birds
I have a four and a half year old son. This means that for a time in my life I heard Owen Wilson’s voice daily. My son adores Lightening McQueen and we watched all or part of Cars or Cars 2 daily for pretty much an entire summer. Much of the success of the franchise can be attributed to the unmistakable dialect of Owen.

Earlier this month I went to the Free Birds press junket in Los Angeles and as I was listening to Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler speak about the movie I kept thinking how much my son would get a kick out of hearing Lightening McQueen. Can’t you just imagine Owen getting bum rushed by preschoolers daily because of his animation projects?

Well it turns out it isn’t really the kids who are running up to Owen. “What happens more often is that a parent comes up and says that their kid loves Cars and then says, this is Lightning McQueen, and then the kid just stares at me. And then, the parent wants a picture and the kid doesn’t want a picture, and I’m having to smile and corral this poor little kid into a picture with this lunatic that, as far as he’s concerned, is saying he’s Lightning McQueen.”

Woody, who clearly is very good friends with Owen and most likely has seen this scene more than a few times, chimed in with what every kid must think when looking at Owen, “That doesn’t look like a car.”

Even Amy Poehler is hesitant to introduce her boys to Owen. “I think it would make their heads explode to meet Lightning McQueen.”

The conversation shifted over to talking about parenting and parenting advice. Owen was pretty open that some of the best parenting advice he ever received was from Woody. “I actually remember you saying that a big thing, right before Ford was born is just to hug your kids a lot, and I do do that, which comes very easily because he’s very huggable. And so, it sounds corny, but you can’t hug your kids enough or give them that confidence that they’re loved.”

Woody talked about something we rarely hear about from working fathers: work/ life balance. Routinely we ask women in business how they are managing it all: the job, the kids, the home. Men seldom are asked how they balance having a career with having a family. Woody shared that it was hard to juggle his work schedule with events in his family’s life. He was worried he was going to miss seeing his daughter in a play in a few weeks because of a work commitment.

Amy gets the “how do you juggle it all” questions all of the time and isn’t phased by it. “It doesn’t bother me. We all already know the answer in a way. Everybody’s answer is different, I guess, is a better way to put it. And I think when you’re working, it’s just a question that men don’t get but women get all the time.” She continues with, “you learn what things are important to you, what things fall away, and that you shouldn’t listen to anybody’s advice, and don’t worry about what anybody says. Do your thing. Whatever works for you and your family is the right thing.”

This afternoon my mother took my son to see Free Birds in the theatre and he loved it. Three actors, who are three parents, who played three turkeys: I’ll give thanks for that!

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Image Credit: Kevin Estrada
Disclosure: Relativity Media invited me to attend a screening of Free Birds. The opinions in this post are entirely my own.

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