Owen Wilson Plays a Soothing TV Art Instructor in His Upcoming Film ‘Paint.’ But, No, He’s Not Bob Ross. (Well… Maybe a Little)

The fictional painter is named Carl Nargle.

Owen Wilson in Paint. Courtesy of IFC Films.
Owen Wilson in Paint. Courtesy of IFC Films.

You might think you know Owen Wilson’s next role. But the soft-spoken television painter, with his perfectly coiffed perm, is not playing Bob Ross. Instead, the forthcoming comedy, Paint, tells the story of Carl Nargle, a television art instructor who specializes in tranquil landscapes clearly meant to evoke Ross’s oeuvre.

But the film, written and directed by Brit McAdams, takes a dramatic turn when Nargle’s flourishing TV-hosting career is threatened by an artistic rival, Ambrosia (Ciara Renée), host of Paint With Ambrosia, who “takes paint to a whole new place.”

“Vermont’s #1 public television painter… is convinced he has it all: a signature perm, custom van, and fans hanging on his every stroke… until a younger, better artist steals everything (and everyone) Carl loves,” the description of the official trailer said.

The promo for the film falls short of referencing “happy little trees,” but Wilson is clearly channeling Ross in a major way, speaking to his viewers in soothing tones.

Nargle admits he feels “a little lost as we begin,” and signs off an episode by saying “thanks for going to a special place with me.” Later, he loses his cool, hurling green paint at his finished canvases in frustration.

Bob Ross was the star of the PBS’s The Joy of Painting from 1983 to 1994. He died at age 52 in 1995, but has enjoyed enduring popularity. The artist became a Twitch star in 2015, and was added to the Calm sleep and meditation app in 2018. He also entered the collection of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., got his own interactive museum, the “Bob Ross Experience,” and was the subject of a controversial Netflix documentary.

The movie poster for <em>Paint</em> starring Owen Wilson. Courtesy of IFC Films.

The movie poster for Paint starring Owen Wilson. Courtesy of IFC Films.

Paint is slated for an April 7 release date. But it’s been in the works since at least 2010, when it was included on that year’s Black List of the best scripts not yet slated for release. It was filmed in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, reports the local NBC affiliate.

The movie costars Michaela Watkins, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Lusia Strus, and Stephen Root. It is being released by IFC Films, which has previously spoofed artists Marina Abramović and Ulay in its parody series Documentary Now.

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