LOS ANGELES — So how does Owen Wilson’s take on “Don’t Give Up on Us Baby,” a hit for original “Hutch” David Soul, compare to the ’70s original?
“There’s no comparison,” his “Starsky & Hutch” co-star Ben Stiller reported at the movie’s premiere Thursday, “because Owen Wilson, first of all, just to get his voice even close to on key, they had to put him through one of those computers and he broke two of them.”
“David Soul has a great voice, and I have a terrible voice,” Owen admitted. “I mean, you can’t even call it a ‘terrible voice,’ because it’s just incredibly tuneless.”
“And then, of course, when he sings the song, there’s almost a soullessness in his eyes,” Stiller added, speaking specifically of the scene in the movie where Wilson picks up a guitar and belts out the sappy tune. “It’s almost as if ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ was singing to you. He’s just not really a very charismatic singer and he doesn’t really sing in tune, either, so the whole thing is sort of a disaster.”
Nevertheless, the tune will find its way onto the soundtrack for the movie, a comedy take on the classic 1970s cop show, written and directed by “Old School” mastermind Todd Phillips (see “Big Collars And Even Bigger Pimpin’ On The Set Of ‘Starsky & Hutch'” ).
“I almost got more excited about [being on the soundtrack] than my salary,” Wilson joked. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna get residuals? Whoa, how much can I get?!’ That’s the thing I’ve latched onto the most.”
Snoop Dogg, who provided one of his own cars to the filmmakers in order to bring that “extra flavor” to street informant Huggy Bear (see “Snoop Plans To Outdo Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ Video” ), isn’t sweating having competition with the film’s music. “It’s sharp, it’s slick, you know what I’m saying? I can dig that,” he said of the track. “There ain’t no limit to what he can do. Owen is the man. I’ve liked him in everything he’s done.”
“Snoop was great to work with,” Wilson reciprocated. “I became good friends with Snoop and especially good friends with his spiritual advisor, Don ‘Magic’ Juan. In fact, he gave me a big gold diamond chalice for champagne that has my name in diamonds or rhinestones on the side.”
Another person at the premiere in a unique position to judge Wilson’s musical abilities (or apparent lack thereof) was Carmen Electra, who has a small part in the movie. After all, she is married to a rock star. “Owen Wilson was so adorable, he worked so hard on that song,” she said. “Just to watch him actually sing it, and he played guitar, sort of, it was sweet. It was cute.”
“I plan to burn CDs of it and put it out on my own label,” joked her beau, Dave Navarro. “It’s phenomenal.”
Wilson admitted he was nervous to have the original Hutch hear his take on “Don’t Give Up on Us Baby,” or for that matter, see him reprising the role he loved as a kid on television.
“It’s like him playing Abraham Lincoln or something,” joked his brother, Luke. “It’s pretty cool. [David Soul]’s definitely a guy we grew up watching. It’s pretty funny to see Owen playing Hutch.”
Stiller was visibly nervous standing next to both of the show’s original actors, who he had just learned hadn’t yet seen the movie. “I was wondering why they were so friendly when I first saw them,” he laughed as he made his way down a red carpet that also welcomed Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Jon Favreau and Rachel Bilson of “The O.C.”
“The humor in the movie comes out in Owen and I attempting to be as cool as they originally were in the show,” Stiller pointed out. “Hopefully they’ll see that and understand that we couldn’t be who they are, because they just have a natural thing. And we did our natural thing.”
“Starsky & Hutch” hits theaters March 5.