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INT: Matt Dillon

Jul. 12, 2006by: JimmyO

Matt Dillon is one of those guys that is just a cool cat. The dude has been an OUTSIDER, a DRUGSTORE COWBOY and has even done the WILD THING with Denise Richards and Neve Campbell. He can also add Oscar nominee to his list after his performance in last years Academy Award-winning Best Picture CRASH (sorry, Brokeback).

One of the few “teen stars” to carry out a complex and versatile career and become one of the most respected actors of his generation. He had lots to say about his current comedy YOU, ME AND DUPREE and a little about his upcoming project FACTOTUM.

Matt is the type of guy that takes his work very seriously. Come on; if this guy never did anything besides Drugstore Cowboy he’d still be cool. But with his work he doesn’t seem to have the ego thing going. Soft spoken and a little intense, he comes across as one serious dude, albeit a serious dude who likes his music loud.

Matt Dillon

Matt, are you the “you” or the “me” in the title?

I think it’s gotta be… I think it’s gotta be you. I think it’s gotta be me. I mean it depends on who’s more of the protagonist. That’s… I guess it depends on how you interpret it. Or maybe it’s Owen. Who knows, with his reality?

Can you talk about working with Owen in this where you’re supposed to be best friends but you come from different places as actors?

Well in fact, I think… we have different background or training, whatever. But I found that I was really pleasantly surprised. Owen worked very spontaneously (with) a fair amount of adlibbing. I found that really refreshing because I like to work that way. And in comedy that can be gold. Because you never know what’s going to work. A kind of a magic thing can happen, it also keeps you connected. I like the way Owen works, very natural.

You might think after Crash you’d get a lot more heavy dramatic roles but it seems like you’ve been reasserting your gift for comedy since then with Herbie and this, has that been the case?

Well generally I like to do comedy but I’ll be perfectly honest, I prefer to do drama or character driven stuff, generally. But I like to do comedy and I found this to be one of the more difficult roles that I’ve had to play. It was more challenging because the characters kind of a straight guy, he’s very reactive. And I think where the comedy is with that character is in like a look or a reaction. And God knows I had plenty of those in this film. So I felt like, for me, it was really important that in the end, that Carl stands up for himself.

And also that he somehow had a hand in all this chaos. That, in fact, he was the one who made the decision to invite Dupree into his home. So he kind of deserves, to a certain extent, whatever he gets. I think Carl’s the character that more people will identify with. But we’ve all had, well, I don’t know if we’ve all had but I’ve certainly had multiple Dupree’s in my life over the years. You know… characters like that.

Have you ever had a girl come between friendships?

Well they say good neighbors make good fences. This is clearly not something that Dupree lives by. He has real boundary problems. That is maybe the worst aspect of Dupree. Worse than the fact that he burns down their living room and the sofa and that he runs around naked, more the way that he puts Carl in the doghouse. That is really unforgivable, to get (Carl) in trouble with his girlfriend, or his wife as it is in this case.

When you did My Bodyguard, as a young actor did you pick up tips from other actors at that point which echo your life today?

Well, I was pretty young at that point and I had studied a fair amount as an actor. I was certainly very serious about it, you know I remember at that age the actors that were admired. I admired the great actors, you know, (Marlon) Brando, (James) Dean, (Montgomery) Clift, those guys and the next generation of guys, (Al) Pacino, (Robert) DeNiro, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman… But I remembered, one of the things that I was encouraged was, which is what I like about Owen, is to keep it fresh. Be spontaneous.

That’s the magic of film often… those mistakes often, I’ve noticed at times throughout my career… the scenes that I’ve done where I was like that was just awful turn out to be the best scenes, some of my best work. So it’s interesting, you know. And it’s because something authentic is happening. I forgot my line or I didn’t know what I was doing at that moment or I lost focus, what in fact happened is something really organic and real happened in that moment. So, I think that’s what I’ve learned is that those are the real magic moments that happen if you’re willing to be spontaneous. You know, fresh.

Any tips on hiding your porn stash because apparently writing “Carl’s Camping Equipment” doesn’t work?

You know I thought that was a pretty clever. I thought that it was maybe too clever for his own good. How man guys write on a box “Carl’s Camping Equipment”? You know what I felt was interesting was that he chose to keep the collection. He had a sentimental attachment to that porn collection. So that when he’s throwing them out it’s really like saying goodbye to an old friend.

How do you find your inner “Matt-ness”? And have you ever been the Dupree to Kevin (Dillon) or has Kevin ever been the Dupree to you?

In a different way, yeah, I had that with all my brothers at one point. And friends, I’ve had a number Dupree’s in my life. You know, friendships important so you end up putting up with things, you know, you like this guy in spite of his shortcoming because he’s your friend. And then brothers obviously you deal with it. They’re brothers and blood is thicker than water. But it’s hard to know because Dupree is unaware of the fact that he’s this crazy maker, so I’m sure that I’ve been that to somebody but I was probably unaware of it. And I say if I’m a houseguest, I have a tendency to like my music loud you know. That might be something that bothers people. My driving too… I’ve been accused of not being good at driving.

Two questions, what is the status of Factotum? And any new directing opportunities coming up?

The first one is, Factotum is coming out the first or second week of August which is a comedy of a different variety. You know, very character based. I really liked it; I had a great time doing it. The filmmaker (Bent Hamer) is really interesting because he lets you do things, he lets the scene play out in front of the camera without doing a lot of editing, without doing a lot of coverage. Of course, I had my concerns about that because, what’s he gonna do, how’s he gonna bridge those performances? Then what I discovered is, that’s really what’s great about it, the performance can be unadulterated, (he) puts it back in the actors’ hands. Anyway, it was fun. A different kind of comedy, in that one I get to run around bare-assed… it was fun. There were a lot of things that I liked about it because I felt like it was a film that I hadn’t seen before. So it’s coming out, IFC is releasing it in August.

The directing?

Well, I think it goes back to when I did Factotum. I was working on a screenplay and I put it down because I had to get to work on (Factotum). I did Dupree, then right after that we had the whole award season and that took up a lot of time and now I’m ready. And also just, you know, it’s funny doing comedy. It’s very, very physically challenging. It’s really interesting; something that’s so light and easy can be so trying, physically. You do a lot of takes, a lot of takes and some of the scenes where I’m really at the high pitch, exploding and yelling, my voice, you know… So, I’m getting sidetracked there a little bit but direction yeah, I’m gonna finish up the screenplay. I just wanna say that I’m really happy when I’m directing. I really like that process.

Owen works with his brothers a lot. Are you going to work with your brother on his show Entourage?

Well, I don’t know. I think the hard thing about that show is that he’s got a brother already. So I don’t know if that will work out. But when we talk about it… I say listen I’d love to direct one. He’d love that. But also we talk about over the years that we’ve never really found a script that… in fact I had a part for him in City of Ghosts in the beginning of the film but it got cut out; but we talk about doing something over the years. Hopefully we’ll find something. It’d be a lot of fun.

You cut your brother out of your own movie?

No, I… Listen, I tell ya, I ended up cutting out fifteen pages of the script. This is something I’ve learned. Fifteen pages of the script before I started shooting and then I probably cut out about fifteen minutes at the beginning of the movie; I spoke to a filmmaker once he said every movie he worked on, he always cut out like the first fifteen minutes and I think that’s really interesting. I heard a writer once say, always start the scene as late as you possibly can in a film.

I think rules are meant to be broken but I think that’s a good rule, because I prefer short scenes; short, crisp, to the point. I think that’s what it does, streamline, get down to the core of the scene. You know, I always find the introduction sort of like, unless there is a real reason for the characters to introduce themselves to each other, tell us something about who they are… let’s just cut to the chase. They’ve already met each other and now I’m getting to what the meeting’s about. What the relationship is about.

(Dupree) talked about Audrey Hepburn being the perfect girl. Who is the perfect girl for you, how would you describe her?

I like a girl with a great sense of humor. I think that’s really important. Someone who’s easy going, you know, I think the best relationship to get in with a woman is a woman who knows where your buttons are. You don’t want to be in a relationship where she knows where your buttons are and pushes your buttons. But you want them to know where they are, you want them to be clued in to where they are. So I think that’s pretty ideal. I always liked Carole Lombard. If you want to go back further, talk about Audrey Hepburn but Carole. She was great, very funny. I kinda had a crush on her.

And favorite romantic film, Roman Holiday?

There’s a film made by (Emerich) Pressburger, (Michael) Powell called I Know Where I’m Going. A Scottish film? An English film, set in Scotland. It’s a very romantic film.

Did you ever get hurt because you had to be on a skateboard and you jumping on the table… was that you?

Are you kidding?

No?

You think they would let me get on a skateboard in the middle of making that film? Thank God they didn’t. I wasn’t much of a skateboarder.

You did jump over the table though.

That? I did launch myself over the table though. That was fun. But then again tore my vocal cords up; so the director, the next day on the set, there was a scene with Kate and I, kind of a quiet scene, then he said, “You know, were going to move on to a different scene.”, I said “Why?”, he said, “Because you sound like you got beat up with a baseball bat. Your voice is so shot.” So that was the extent of the physical (injury). But I remember that day when we were like skateboarders, we did all kind of stunts at the bottom of the ramp, you know, easy stuff. But I remember thinking to myself, wow, we are on this skateboard ramp rolling around… this is like, a great job. We get to be kids, you know, we get to have fun. It really is a great job, you get to play. And that’s what we do as actors.

You’ve been doing this since you were a kid to when you got your first Oscar nomination last year. What did that feel like, did it change anything and did it make a difference?

More bad scripts… That’s not right… I wanted to say that that was a lot of fun, that was a great experience. Obviously it doesn’t happen every time; you can see that with all the terrific films made last year that didn’t get recognized… and performances. So it’s really an honor to get recognized like that, it was a lot of fun. I have to say I really enjoyed it. Some people say, you know, that a lot of people are upset that (Crash) won, Brokeback (Mountain) didn’t win.

I said what are you bothering getting upset about? The fact is that all those movies that got nominated won. And at the end of the day it’s really, it’s a great honor but what’s important is that, at the end of the day I don’t say that that film is my favorite film because it won the Oscar in 1956, you know. I judge films on the way they were made so I was proud to be a part of that film and to me, I just show up like I do and some of the parts, I think the weightiness of that part really lent itself so… this is the kind of work that I like to do.

No, for me I don’t feel like I’ve ever been in a better time career wise and I especially feel that way because it was fun to do this comedy, this big studio comedy, which is different, it’s a nice contrast to what I did with that. But also because I have this film Factotum coming out… it was great to be a part of that and it’s just been a really good period of time for me. And I’m excited about the future so I really feel like I couldn’t be in a better situation than where I am at right now.

Do you know what’s next?

No, I don’t know what’s next in the terms of I’ve been reading scripts and to be honest one of the things I have to do is get back to what I was doing before I took on Factotum and finish this script, you know. Follow through. It’s something that I’ll most likely direct.

Let me know what you think. You can contact me at jimmyo@joblo.com.

Source: JoBlo.com

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