MARINA DEL RAY, California — Watching Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller fire shots at Vince Vaughn, it'd be easy to think they're filming any old cop movie — were it not for their big collars, flared pants and the striking presence of a Ford Gran Torino.
The bright red car with the white stripe says it all: this is the set of "Starsky & Hutch." (Click to see photos.)
" 'Starsky & Hutch' were a police detective team [on TV] back in the '70s," Stiller explained between takes in Marina Del Ray, which doubles as fictitious Bay City in the movie. "It was a very popular show when I was a kid. They were the original buddy cop team. They were badass guys running, kicking ass and having fun with each other. But there's something really cool about it. They have the coolest car ever."
"And Ben's character won't let me drive the car," added Wilson, who plays the laid-back Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson opposite Stiller's tightly wound Dave Starsky.
"And of course the irony is they were undercover cops and it's really the most noticeable car you could drive," pointed out Stiller.
The big-screen version of "Starsky & Hutch" is being directed by Todd Phillips ("Road Trip"), who added more comedic elements to his script yet made sure to keep many things about the show the same — the car, the clothes and the presence of streetwise informant Huggy Bear, played by streetwise rapper Snoop Dogg (see " 'Starsky & Hutch' Director Wants Snoop To Play Huggy Bear").
"Snoop made a cameo in 'Old School,' my last movie," explained Phillips, who wanted to add a more "pimp" element to the already flashy character. "Snoop struggled at first making the transition from Snoop to pimp," he joked.
"Snoop is really a connoisseur of pimp style," Stiller said. "Every day Snoop comes on the set with a new outfit and really likes to represent the pimp style in a positive way."
"I'm just bringing a little bit more of a 2003 player edge to it," Snoop said. "The movie is set in 1975, so it's still old-school, but I just had to put my flavor on the table to show that Huggy Bear could really be a player."
On this particular day, the cast is shooting a scene for the end of the movie when, their cover blown, Bay City's finest detectives chase the villainous Reese Feldman onto a boat.
"He's a business guy," Vaughn said of his bad-guy character. "He's married but he's also tempted by other girls. He has big money schemes. And he doesn't want to be bogged down by the rules."
The cast is clearly having a good time playing by the rules of the 1970s, especially when it comes to fashion. Later in the day, the reunited "Zoolander" team of Stiller and Owen were all smiles as they browsed through their respective wardrobe racks.
"We have Owen and Ben dressed like the original Starsky and Hutch, and they really got into it," Phillips said. "We really stuck very closely to the wardrobe on the original show. We matched it really closely and we really became sticklers for details. And you notice, Ben has the same rings and the same cut of the jacket, same jeans and all the same shoes that we remade. We really had fun with it."
"Hutch wore this [particular] jacket all of the time, usually with a turtleneck; that was his look," Stiller said. "And Starsky really had three main jackets. One was just this Army jacket.
"These guys were kind of rebel cops," he added. "It's sort of post-Vietnam War. The buzz-cut cops were being taken over by these sort of cool, [hip cops]. These were the new breed. They were wearing stuff guys on the street wore."
Co-starring Juliette Lewis, who also appeared in "Old School," and Carmen Electra, "Starsky & Hutch" is due in theaters in March. Once work on "Starsky and Hutch" wraps, Phillips will finish writing a sequel to "Old School"(see "Reunion Planned For 'Old School' Stars Wilson, Vaughn And Ferrell").
Meanwhile, Stiller will appear opposite Jack Black in next month's "Envy" (see "Jack Black, Ben Stiller Fall Deep In 'Envy' ") and alongside Drew Barrymore in October's "Duplex." Wilson completed work earlier this year on "The Big Bounce," and he'll reunite with Jackie Chan in "Around the World in 80 Days," in which he and his brother will reportedly cameo as the Wright Brothers (see "Knoxville's Latest Stunt Takes Him 'Around The World In 80 Days' ").
Ryan J. Downey, with reporting by Mark Bella and Nick Zano