Working on the summer comedy with Owen Wilson and getting to do his own stunts
After starring in the Oscar-winning film, Crash - and getting a Best Supporting Actor nomination at this year's Academy Awards - Matt Dillon decided he would switch gears and try the summer comedy route. He hooked up with Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson for You, Me and Dupree.
Matt plays Carl, the newly-married husband of Kate (Molly), and best friend of Owen (Dupree). When Carl finds out Dupree is out of a house, job, and car, he invites him to stay with him and Molly until he gets back on his feet - the only problem with that is Dupree doesn't get back on his feet. He takes advantage of the free space to party it up.
We spoke with Matt about working with Kate and Owen on the film, and having Dupree's in his life - including his brother Kevin. And we also got a little info on what's going on with his writing and directing career; plus, he talked about his upcoming project Factotum, which was shot a while ago and will finally be released next month.
Check out what he had to say:
Are you the 'you' or the 'me' in the title?
Matt Dillon: This has been something that's been debated. I think it's gotta be the 'you;' I think it has to be 'me,' right? It depends on who's the protagonist, I guess; it depends on how you interpret it - is it Kate or is it me? Or maybe it's Owen? Who knows with his reality, the way he sees things.
How was working with Owen?
Matt Dillon: Well in fact, we're different, our backgrounds, our training, whatever. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Owen liked to work spontaneously; we did a fair amount of adlibbing, and I found that very refreshing, cause I like to work that way. And in comedy, that can be gold, because you never know what's going to work; there's a kind of magic that can work. When you're spontaneous, it keeps you connected, and so I liked the way Owen works; it's very natural.
How have the offers been since Crash?
Matt Dillon: Generally, I like to do comedy, but I'll be perfectly honest, I like to do drama and more character-driven-based stuff, generally. But I like to do comedy and I found this is one of the more difficult roles that I've had to play recently because the character's the straight guy, he's very reactive. And I think where the comedy is with that type of character isn't like a look or a reaction - G-d knows, I've had plenty of those in this film. So I thought for me, it was really important at the end that Carl stands up for himself. Also, he had a hand in all this chaos; in fact, he was the one who made the decision to invite Dupree into his home, so he kind of deserves, to an extent, whatever he gets. But I think Carl is the character that most people will identify with because I don't know, but I'm pretty sure - I certainly have had multiple Dupree's in my life over the years. I've certainly collected other like-minded, otherwise minded people.
Have you ever had a girl come between you and another friend?
Matt Dillon: Well, they say good neighbors make good fences, and this is clearly not something Dupree lives by; he has real boundary problems, so that is maybe the worst aspect of Dupree, worse than the fact that he burns down his living room, his sofa, and that he runs around naked. It's more in a way of how he puts Carl in the dog house; that is sort of unforgivable in a friend to get your friend in trouble with his girlfriend - that's really trouble - or his wife, in this case.
Have you ever tried to win a girl back?
Matt Dillon: Yeah, yeah, I've come back hat in hand on many occasions. But it's better not to get yourself in that position in the first place if you can avoid it; sometimes it's unavoidable, and sometimes you never know what the reaction's going to be and so you have to be prepared for that. It may not go the way you want it to go, but fortunately, in this film, it all works out for the best - true love prevails.
Have you ever had to hide the porn stash?
Matt Dillon: You know I thought that was pretty clever, I thought it was a little too clever for his own good. How many guys actually write on the box 'Carl's Camping Equipment?' You know what I thought was interesting, was that he chose to keep the collection; he had a sentimental attachment to that porn collection and so when he's throwing them out, it's kind of like saying goodbye to an old friend, very slowly.
Have you ever been the Dupree to Kevin or vice versa?
Matt Dillon: In a different way; I had that with all my brothers and with friends. I've had a number of Dupree's in my life. Friendship is important to me, so you end up putting up with some things cause you like these guys despite their short comings - they're your friends. And then your brothers, obviously, really, they're your brothers - flesh is, 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 I've been that to someone and been unaware of it. And I'd say if I were a houseguest, probably, I have a tendency to like to play my music loud and that might be something that bothers people. My driving - I've been accused of not being the best, most safest driver.
What's the status of Factotum?
Matt Dillon: Well, the first one is Factotum, the picture I did with Charles Burkowski, it's coming out the first or second week of August, which is a comedy of a different variety, a character based film. I really liked that, I had a really good time making that; the filmmaker was really interesting because he liked to do things - let the scene play out in front of the camera without doing a lot of editing, without doing a lot of coverage. And at first, I had my concerns about that because how's it going to work, how's he going to bridge those performances? And then I discovered that's really what's great about it, that your performance can be unadulterated; it's sort of putting it back in the actor's hands. Anyway, it was fun, it was a different kind of comedy and in that one, I get to run around bare-assed with the crabs and that was fun. There are a lot of things that I liked about it because I felt it was a film I hadn't seen before. So it's coming out; IFC is releasing it in August.
And what about directing?
Matt Dillon: I think it goes back to when I did Factotum, I put it down; I was working on a screenplay and I put it down cause I had to get working on Factotum. And that is something is that I have yet - because then I did Dupree and then right after that, we had this whole award season and that sort of took up most of the time. And now I ready, and also, it's fun doing comedy; comedy can be very physically challenging and draining; it's really interesting that something so light and easy can be so trying in a way. You do a lot of takes, and we did a lot of takes on this film; and some of the scenes where I'm at that high pitch, I'm exploding and I'm yelling, my voice went. I got side-tracked a little there, but you asked about the direction, and yeah, I'm going to finish up the screenplay and I have a few things I'm developing. And I really want to say, I'm really happy when I'm directing, I enjoy it; I really enjoy that process of filmmaking. And what I think I learned, looking back on that experience, is that I was really focused on what I really love doing and that made me very happy, and I look back on that very fondly that period of time.
Are you going to work with Kevin on Entourage?
Matt Dillon: I don't know, I think the hard part about that show is he's got a brother already, so I don't know if that would work out. But we've talked and I have said I'd love to direct one; we'd love that. But we've talked about it over the years, we've just never found a script - in fact, I had a part for him in City of Ghosts, at the beginning of the film and it got cut out. But we've talked about doing something over the years, and hopefully we'll find something and I think it'll be a lot of fun.
You cut your brother out of your own movie?
Matt Dillon: No, I ended up cutting 15 pages of the script; this is something I learned - 15 pages of script and then I cut out about 15 minutes at the beginning of the movie, I ended up cutting about a half hour out of the beginning of the movie. And I spoke to a filmmaker once, and he said that every movie he's worked on, he's had to, he's always cut out the first 15 minutes, and I think that's really interesting. Just goes to show - I heard a writer one time say as a screenwriter, always start the scene as late as you possibly can in a film. And I think it's actually - I think rules are meant to be broken, but I think it's actually a good rule.
What's the psychology of that?
Matt Dillon: Well, I think I prefer short scenes in a film, scenes that kind of play out short, crisp, and to the point, and I think that's what it does. And you streamline it, you get down to what the core of the scene is, what that important moment is in the scene. I always find that introductions are - unless there's a real reason for the character to introduce themselves to each other, but if it's going to tell us something about who they are - let's just cut to the chase, they've already met each other, and let's get in to what this meeting is about, what their relationship is about; that's an example of what I'm talking about.
Did you do your own stunts, especially in the skateboarding scene?
Matt Dillon: Are you kidding me? You think they're going to let me on a skateboard in the middle of making that film? Thank G-d they didn't make me do that; I wasn't much of a skateboarder.
You did jump over the table, though?
Matt Dillon: Yeah, I did launch myself over the table; that was fun, but there again, I tore up my vocal chords on that scene. So the director, the next day on the set, it was a scene with me and Kate in the kitchen - it was kind of a quiet scene. And he said, 'We're going to move on to a different scene today; we're going to do a different scene.' And I said, 'Why?' And he said, 'Cause you sound like you've been beat up with a baseball bat, your voice is so shot. So yeah, that was the extent of the physical, injury. But I remember that day with the skateboard cause we did all the stunts at the bottom of the ramp, the easy stuff. And I remember thinking to myself, 'Here we are on this skateboard ramp, rolling around on the ground - this is a great job, we get to be kids, we get to have fun!' And it really is a great job, we get to play, and that's what we do as actors.
You can see all the crazy antics in You, Me and Dupree when it opens in theaters July 14th; it's rated PG-13.