Acting from an early age, Matt Dillon has been in everything from arthouse to comedy, even popping up in The Pogues video for Fairytale In New York.. Here he talks about new movie Takers
What can you tell us about your role in Takers? You play the good guy, right?
Matt Dillon: Good guy, bad guy. Cops and robbers. Like when we were kids, playing cops and robbers. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as good guys versus bad guys, but I play a cop. He’s not perfect, that’s for sure. He’s got his own problems, he’s divorced. He’s very obsessed with his work. He’s a little heavy-handed as a cop, he’s maybe too into it? There are two storylines that are running in the movie. There are the guys who are going around doing a series of ambitious bank heists. That’s Paul and those crew guys. And there are the two detectives who are following them and that’s myself and Jay Hernandez. And each of these threads, you know there are other sides and personal stories and that thing with myself and Jay is that we are partners and we’ve been partners for a while, and we have an emotional bond with each other. But we have a different philosophy and looking at life and doing things. He’s a good family man, but there’s kind of a tragic outcome with him that is sort of a surprise that goes against my beliefs. It’s very tragic and it sort of culminates, you know the sort of outcome of his character, our relationship sort of happens at the end. I think that’s what I liked about it, you know. Listen, it’s a genre movie. I haven’t done a lot of action movies. I like to do things different. When I read it, it reminded me kind of a seventies action movie. It made sense. And I had just done Armored which I really liked doing and I really like that film maker, Nimrod Antal – he’s a Hungarian film maker. He made Vacancy, but before that he made a film which I really liked called Control which he shot in Budapest.
Is it hard to let go of your directing background and just act at times?
Matt Dillon: No because, what I’ve realised as I’ve grown older is that I’m not responsible for every aspect of the movie. I used to feel like I can’t do this movie. I make decisions on films all the time, like I was responsible for everything about the film. I’m not, I’m an actor in it. There’s only so much I can do. I’m not there in the editing room. I’m not responsible for that. As a director I am, and I felt when I directed I felt responsible for everything and I did. As long as the film in the end wasn’t taken away from me and recut by somebody else, I could take responsibility for that. But I can’t take responsibility as an actor for an entire film. I can only take responsibility for what I do in my work and so it is a director’s medium. So the best scenario is to work with directors who you really believe in. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
Has it been easier to be an actor who has directed?
Matt Dillon: Well it’s easier to have that prospective. I am able to say: “Hey, look I like this role. I can have some fun making this film.” It’s grand for me to think that I’m responsible for the outcome of that movie, like I would have any ultimate say on what happens. It’s ridiculous. So I just have to look at it as will I have fun making it. That’s what I do, I’m an actor.
What was the last movie you saw that you loved?
Matt Dillon: The last thing I saw that l loved…. I’m going to need another cup of coffee for that one!
On the internet it says you’re making a Brazilian sex comedy?
Matt Dillon: No, there’s no trut h to that at all. I don’t know how that got out there. It drives me crazy when they write stuff that isn’t true. A friend of mine made that film but that’s not the title. Somebody once said to me you were in Malcolm X… And I looked it up and on IMDB, it says I was in Malcolm X because there’s a guy named Matt Dillon who’s a friend of Spike Lee, who is black…. And I know him from New Orleans from the Jazz fest like fifteen years ago and so people think that I was in that movie.
What has kept you in the business for so long? You have such a huge body of work.
Matt Dillon: I don’t know, you kidding? I wouldn’t give this up! The healthiest thing for me is doing other things, getting outside of your comfort zone and I loved directing. That gives you a new lease on life and a new way of looking at things.
What’s the hardest genre for you to do? You’ve said it’s comedy in the past.
Matt Dillon: No, I was just saying that in general comedy is hard. I am not trying to say that it is especially hard for me. It’s just in general it’s hard. I do a lot of comedy, but I’m not a comedic actor. There are a lot of actors where that’s their thing and so they’re expected to be funny all the time. I think that’s got to be more difficult.
So you’re more of the straight guy?
Matt Dillon: Well, I wasn’t the straight guy in Something About Mary. But with Owen Wilson in You, Me and Dupree, I was kind of the straight guy. That’s harder doing the straight guy in a way, playing a reactive character.