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Matt Dillon

Matt Dillon

Armored, Takers

Total Film

March 2010

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The king of cool plays cops and robbers...

Delinquent (The Outsiders), druggy (Drugstore Cowboy), downright hilarious (There’s Something About Mary) – Dillon’s 30-year career may be patchy but he’s landed enough telling blows to leave most Hollywood young guns goggle-eyed with awe and maybe even a little envy. And you can’t keep a good actor down – next up, Dillon can be seen in a brace of gritty heist thrillers, Armored and Takers.

How do you relax when you’re not filming? Do you like to watch TV?
I’m usually watching a baseball game between the Knicks and the Mets. I often get waylaid in between by something like the Discovery Channel. I like the things where animals are being devoured by each other. I’m happy I’m not the animal that’s being devoured by a pack of hyenas.

In Takers, you’re the good guy; in Armored, you’re a baddie. Which do you prefer?
I always prefer playing the robbers. But the good thing about the cop in Takers is he’s not an earnest guy. He has a code but he always goes too far. And Armored is interesting because my character starts off very benevolent; he’s like an uncle to Columbus Short’s character but I’m manipulating him.

Your Takers co-star Paul Walker says you were a mythical figure for him as a kid. He called you ‘The King Of Cool’.
The King Of Cool! Oh man. I don’t feel mythical. I feel totally unmythical.

Are you pleased that younger actors look up to you?
Paul’s younger than me?! He’s been around a while too! [Wry grin] Yeah, it’s an interesting thing. It’s interesting to watch young guys and girls that are coming up. I was watching this movie on the plane and I’d never seen this guy in anything before but he looked like this really interesting kid – Zac Efron. [Dramatic pause] I didn’t have the sound on but I could see he’s a good basketball player. He definitely had some good moves.

You were in that cluster of young actors (Cruise, Swayze, Estevez...) who launched their career with The Outsiders. Do you ever watch your early films?
It’s actually very weird for me to see those films now. And the further I get away from them the stranger it is because I was a fucking kid, man, a little kid. Although in my mind at the time I wasn’t. When I made The Outsiders, I think I had just turned 18. C. Thomas Howell and I were the youngest guys on that movie.

What are your abiding memories of that shoot?
Just working with Francis [Ford Coppola]. When I found out I got the job, it was one of the greatest days of my life. Francis was a real legend. It was like winning the World Series, or I guess the World Cup for you.

What gives you that kind of thrill these days?
A creative breakthrough; a job well done; a 10-minute documentary I shot in southern Sudan that you can see on Robert De Niro introduced me to them when I was trying to get him to be in my film. It was a great feeling making it. That made me run up and down stairs.

Before you directed City Of Ghosts, you said you were feeling lost in your career. Do you know where you’re going now?
No. But I do know one thing: I’m really not interested in allowing my career to define who I am as a human being. The catalyst for me writing and directing that film was that I realised I was lost. I was depressed because I didn’t get a job – that I never wanted in the first place! That’s a really fucking pathetic place to be in. So that motivated me to see what I could do as a director. I’m glad I did it but at the same time letting your career be your sole guiding thing? That’s foolish.

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