Related video: Bob Ross Inc. responds to Netflix doc
Prometheus - THR / VideoElephant
A teaser trailer has been released featuring actor and comedian Owen Wilson – of Zoolander, Night at the Museum and “wow” fame – in his latest role, and people are wondering if the Marley and Me star is actually playing beloved, late The Joy of Painting host Bob Ross.
Paint, which will be released in April, is described as being about a man named Carl Nargle, “Vermont’s #1 public TV painter who is convinced he has it all”.
“[He has] a signature perm, custom van, and fans hanging on his every stroke… until a younger, better artist steals everything (and everyone) Carl loves,” the comedy film’s billing reads.
So although the almost 90-second trailer sees Wilson sporting the same perm you would associate with Bob Ross, he’s definitely not Bob Ross. He’s Carl Nargle, and it’s definitely not a biopic – despite all its similarities and references.
In fact, Bob Ross’ profits and brand after his passing in 1995 was the subject of a Netflix documentary in 2021, titled Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed.
A description of the doc on the streaming giant’s website states: “Bob Ross brought joy to millions as the world’s most famous art instructor. But a battle for his business empire cast a shadow over his happy trees.”
The battle concerned the ownership of rights relating to Ross, with his son Steve and the company Bob Ross Inc embroiled in a legal dispute over the painter’s artistic legacy and inheritance.
As it stands, the aforementioned business won the battle, with Bob Ross Inc. owning all intellectual property rights concerning Ross’ “name, likeness, image, and voice, as well as books, pamphlets, instructional videos and DVDs from the popular television series The Joy of Painting”.
After the Netflix documentary shed some light on the situation and Steve Ross’ experience, Bob Ross Inc came out with a statement in which it said it “takes strong issue” with what it considered to be an “inaccurate and heavily slanted portrayal of our company” in the film.
It reads: “Since the founding of Bob Ross Inc. in 1984, all of its equal partners – Bob and Jane Ross, and Walt and Annette Kowalski – shared the same goal: to promote and support the value of painting around the world.
“This was the company’s mission from its inception, through the latter days of Bob Ross’ life, and remains the company’s driving purpose after Bob’s untimely death over 25 years ago.
“If not for the efforts of the remaining founders and their dedication to this mission, Bob’s artistic and cultural relevance – and his expressed desire to become the world’s most beloved painting teacher and friend – would have been lost decades ago with his passing.”
They went on to deny the idea that Steve Ross was “previously prevented” from speaking about the legal dispute, stressing the company “never pursued or threatened legal action against Steve Ross”.
“In fact, no one at Bob Ross Inc. heard from Steve Ross for almost twenty years, until 2017 when Steve filed suit against the company without any prior communication,” it said.
Not only that, but after the release of its own Bob Ross documentary with PBS in 2011, titled The Happy Painter, Bob Ross Inc said it has “routinely declined” to take part in the extra “dozen or so” film requests received “over the years”.
And so, with Bob Ross Inc. having ownership of Ross’ name and likeliness, and declining a lot of film requests, perhaps Wilson’s Carl Nargle was a convenient legal loophole – the many similarities to Ross have not been acknowledged by the creative teams as yet.
So therefore, the Ross comparisons just keep on coming from film sites and movie lovers alike:
\u201ci've been staring at owen wilson playing bob ross for way longer than would be considered healthy\u201d
\u201cIFC Films has shared the trailer for the upcoming comedy Paint, in which Owen Wilson is equipped with sky-high curls, a well-loved palette, and a stunning canvas full of happy little trees. \n\n(No, it's not a Bob Ross biopic.)\n\nWATCH: https://t.co/OH0WpZeOcO\u201d