Conversations: Matt Dillon

Matt Dillon reflects on the perils of summoning his inner Bukowski, and what makes "Crash" so hard to watch.

Published August 16, 2006 7:30AM (EDT)

Talk about range. Matt Dillon, who's currently on screens everywhere in the romantic comedy "You, Me and Dupree," hits theaters this Friday in Bent Hamer's "Factotum." In it, the 42-year-old actor plays Hank Chinaski, the alter ego of Charles Bukowski, who wrote the book on which the film was based. The role may be an unexpected choice for an actor as pretty as Dillon -- but let's face it, Dillon, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his turn as a racist cop in last year's "Crash," has a history of taking on challenging roles.

You've played a lot of unpalatable characters -- I'm thinking particularly of your role in "Crash." To have to live with that as an actor must be hard.

That was tough for me, in a different way. It was hard for me to watch that scene where I pull over Terrence [Howard] and Thandi [Newton]'s characters and I frisk them. That was really rough.

What made this role such a particular challenge?

There's a lot of baggage with Bukowski. There's a lot of people that are gonna come out with the big guns if they don't like what you did with it; there's always that concern. And also the material itself -- I mean you're playing a guy who's a falling-down drunk; he beats up women, he gets crabs.

"Factotum," through Chinaski's relationship with his girlfriend Jan [Lili Taylor], really presents the drive toward love and the drive toward success as being mutually exclusive.

[At one point] she says to him, "The Bible says 'Love thy neighbor.'" He says, "It could also mean leave them alone."

[But] there is this kind of romance, and there are these nice moments with them: One moment he's belting her, the next moment she's giving him crabs and they're fighting. But he's very tender with her, too. It's really kind of a relationship picture in that way. Really kind of a date movie -- a date movie for the devilishly dysfunctional.

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-- Amy Reiter

By Salon Staff

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