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Q&A With Owen Wilson

The actor talks about his new movie ('Free Birds'), plus why he practices gratitude.
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WebMD Magazine - Feature

In Free Birds, you travel back in time to save turkeys from becoming Thanksgiving’s main course. Is turkey on your Thanksgiving menu this year?

Yes, turkey is on the menu. In fact, I’m planning on having some turkey today.

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How did you prepare to play a turkey?

There wasn’t a lot of preparation needed. It just kind of came naturally to me, playing a turkey. I guess I just had a lifetime of preparation for it.

What is the biggest difference between acting in an animated film and playing a live action role?

It’s like when you’re a kid with make believe. It’s all sort of in your head. It’s also just easier. There isn’t a big crew, no hair and makeup and wardrobe. You just roll out of bed and go up to the sound studio. I like it. I would never have thought, based on my voice, that I would have done a lot of animated work, but for some reason it happened.

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

I celebrate it in Dallas with my family. We watch the Cowboys game, eat Thanksgiving dinner, and maybe try to get up a football game earlier in the day. My mom makes the Thanksgiving dinner, and she’s great at it. She makes apple pie, pecan pie, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, yams. I’d say it’s my favorite meal of the year.

What does the holiday mean to you?

I read an article a few years ago about how the holiday is a nightmare for nutritionists, but for psychologists, there’s actually something quite healthy about it. The idea of giving thanks, of being grateful, has a lot of health benefits. The simple act of writing down three things a day you’re grateful for has a measurable impact on people’s happiness and contentment. I wasn’t writing them down, but over the course of the day, I’d see a sunset, or someone laughing, and I’d check that off and say that’s something to be grateful for. It shifts your perspective because you’re now looking for things to be happy about. Take the time, make the decision, to slow things down, and make a conscious effort to look for things over the course of a day to feel good about.

You’ve been a father for nearly 3 years now. How has life changed for you in that time?

There’s this new person that didn’t exist a few years ago, and it’s this person that I have incredible love for, and beyond that, it’s fun and it's gotten more fun. As Ford plays around, and laughs and talks more, it just keeps getting better and better. I love to be around him. That’s the biggest change, having this little person around who, if I have to pick someone to be around, is at the top of the list.

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