Guffaw & Order

updated 03/22/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

They've played romantic rivals (Meet the Parents) and male-model rivals (Zoolander). Now Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson buddy up as cops in Starsky & Hutch, based on the popular 1975-79 TV show. Sitting with PEOPLE correspondent Oliver Jones, the deadpan duo demonstrated how comedians show affection: mostly, by trading jibes.

This is your sixth film together. Can you learn anything new about each other at this point?

WILSON: It's not so much what you learn that is new, it is more like vague suspicions are now confirmed. Ben, for example, is kind of a moody guy, and you kind of have to put on the kid gloves because you never know which Ben is going to show on set.

STILLER: I am always hoping to discover that Owen actually is deeper than he seems, and I am continually disappointed. I am always plumbing the depths, and I keep on hitting bottom.

You both seem pretty easy to get along with.

STILLER: If Owen is actually paying attention and is actually present in the room, which is not that often ...Look, like right now. He is here, but not here.

WILSON: [leaning back in his chair and staring into space]: It works pretty good for me.

STILLER: That's his stock quote for everything: "It works pretty good for me." That's when you know he's not really paying attention. But when he does apply himself, Owen can be a tremendous student.

Student of what?

STILLER: I don't know, it just seems like that was probably on his report card all the time.

WILSON: It's true. Mr. Connelly, my seventh-grade English teacher, his comment was, "Owen has his head up in the clouds, he needs to come down, he's wasting time up there."

Snoop Dogg is your informant in the film. In real life, do you have informants who tell you, say, how much Jack Black makes in a movie, so you can stay ahead?

STILLER: Unfortunately we all have the same agent, so it's not really an issue.

WILSON: There's that Mark Twain quote: "It takes two people to hurt you: your enemy to say something bad about you and your friend to come and tell you what they said." In Hollywood, your agent serves both roles.

STILLER: It's kind of like that Picasso quote: "Art is the lie that tells the truth."

We don't follow.

STILLER: I know, but it's the only quote I know. I thought if Owen is going to pull out the quotes, I should too.

Did you watch Starsky and Hutch as kids?

WILSON: I was born in '68, so when it first premiered I was pretty young.

STILLER: I was 10 in 1975, so I was the target audience. I loved it. I had dark curly hair, so Starsky was a god to me.

Owen, for the scene in which you sing "Don't Give Up on Us," your voice was altered by a computer to keep it on pitch.

STILLER: He couldn't even convincingly mime the guitar strumming. I must admit, there is a certain lack of commitment in Owen's singing that I find really refreshing.

WILSON: Actually that's one of my acting tips: "Don't commit to the part."

STILLER: That goes right after "Don't look anyone in the eye" and "Don't listen."

WILSON: Right. You just wait till their lips stop moving and you say your line...It works pretty good for me.

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