Daniel H. Wilson, PhD, is a lot of things: a robotics expert, an author, an inventor and now the source of a screenplay attached to an A-list movie star. One thing the 28-year-old Oregonian isn't, however, is the stereotypical Hollywood power player barking business deals into his Bluetooth.
"I never want to be that guy," the unassuming Wilson said. "I'm just continuing to write, and drinking coffee in the morning, and working on my Web site and goofing around. And I talk to generals when I get a chance."
On Wednesday, Wilson's life was forever altered by the news that "Austin Powers" star Mike Myers was attaching himself to "How to Survive a Robot Uprising," based on the book of the same name that Wilson penned last year as a doctoral candidate at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University.
"The book offers all this technically accurate advice on what to do in these really silly scenarios where robots are killing everybody," Wilson chuckled. "In the movie, they'll pay a lot of attention to all those scenarios because they're really making fun of those scenarios, but dealing with them in an actual, technically correct fashion. This is really what you should do if robots attack — even though they only do that in Hollywood movies."
"People will know what to do," he promised. "Mike Myers is going to lead them into the future."
Since initially selling the rights to his tongue-in-cheek book, Wilson has traveled back-and-forth between Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles to collaborate with "Reno 911!" stars Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant, the screenplay developers on "Uprising." When they delivered the news Wednesday night, Wilson knew that the next logical step was unavoidable.
|Looking for the newest, hottest trailers?
Check out "Pulse," "The Heart of the Game," "Crossover" and more, on Overdrive.
"I went out and got drunk immediately," he laughed.
When he tried to get his friends to come out with him, however, he found drinking buddies hard to come by. "This is pretty big news for me, and so I called a couple friends, but no one was home," he remembered. "I left messages, but I didn't want to give it away in a phone message. It's probably the best news I'll ever get in my life."
Once his friends finally did call back, Wilson jokes that most of them thought he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. After quickly correcting them, he swore them to secrecy and then fulfilled the dream of every wannabe Hollywood writer: "I was feeling really guilty, because I kept telling them that Mike Myers probably wasn't going to release the information for a couple weeks. I was swearing everybody to secrecy, and then like 10 hours later it's in [Hollywood trade publication] Variety."
Wilson confessed to being a lifelong fan of the "Wayne's World" comedian and says he's thrilled that Myers will be bringing "Uprising" to life. "I've spent a fair amount of my youth quoting Mike Myers," he admitted. "Starting, I guess, with 'Saturday Night Live' and the whole 'If it's not Scottish, it's crap!' skits."
Myers intends to play the lead character in "Uprising," a technical administrator constantly advising would-be victims of the increasing threat of homicidal robots. Wilson added that the role "will be more of Charlie from 'So I Married an Axe Murderer,' and less of an 'Austin Powers' type of a character. I don't really see him as a big, splashy guy. He's a nerd, like me."
At the mere mention of "Murderer," the jovial Wilson excitedly spit out quotes like any other movie geek: "Head ... Move!," he screamed. "It looks like an orange on a toothpick!"
The movie-loving author is just as likely to be at a "Lord of the Rings" screening as he is to spend his days working on the real-life robots of tomorrow. "[In the last year] I've graduated, I got my PhD, I went on a book tour. ... I sold another book. ... I've also sold my third book, which is a sequel to the "Robot Uprising" book," he said. "And I'm going to go give a talk at West Point to some generals, some robotic guys, this summer. That's going to be sweet."
He's also developing a robotic tracking system that will allow people to monitor their pets' activities online while they're at work, and will serve as technical advisor for the "Uprising" movie. "I hang out, and then they'll say, 'Does an explosion make noise in space?' and I'll say 'No,' " he laughed, explaining his duties. "And then they'll say 'Yeah, well it does in this movie.' "
Wilson says he hopes "Uprising" will begin shooting soon and is eagerly waiting by the phone for an introductory call from his new leading man. "I call him Double M, or M-Shizzle, and that's because we're down," he said of Myers. "We haven't talked yet, but I'm pretty sure that we'll have all kinds of really cool nicknames that will just be between me and him."
Wednesday night, Wilson and his friends "sent out a few toasts to M-Shizzle," but the good-natured robotics expert insists that he'll keep the name-dropping to a minimum and everything else in perspective. "Basically, there's this big machine that is Hollywood, and all I did was put 50 cents into the slot with my book, and I pushed a button," he laughed, discussing his relationship with another notoriously homicidal machine. "Now, I'm just standing back and watching to see what it's going to spit out."
See everything we've got on Mike Myers.
Check out movies.MTV.com for Hollywood news, photos, reviews, interviews and more.
Want trailers? Visit Movies on MTV Overdrive for the newest, scariest and funniest coming attractions anywhere.