Rebel with a Cause
Matt Dillon Is trying to shed his angry young actor image.
From the Print Edition:
Matt Dillon, Spring 96
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With his music around him, Dillon enjoys entertaining at home, although it's usually pretty informal since his place is small and doesn't have a dining room. Dillon claims to make a great mushroom risotto, and he loves opening and, of course, drinking good wine. "I'm a Bordeaux guy more than anything," he says. "I really like Bordeaux and California Cabs and Spanish wine. I'm not a real white wine guy. I have a tendency to like the right bank of Bordeaux--Pomerol and St.-Emilion. I really like Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Le Pin. That is, if you can find Le Pin anywhere."
He also appreciates great white Burgundy, but finds the whole region slightly overwhelming. He feels it's all too complicated with its numerous appellations and producers. "My appreciation for wine is a purely honest thing," he says. "The flavors of wine are great. A nice dinner and a bottle of wine, you can't beat it.
"But wine doesn't really go with a cigar. You have to wait until after dinner. You can't taste a wine with a cigar going. I went to a couple of cigar dinners and I can't say that I'm the hugest fan. I know this probably won't go over too well, but with a room full of smoke, it's not the best way to enjoy wine, unless the room has great ventilation. I have been to a few cigar dinners where there has been only one open window, and you see some of those guys smoking three or four cigars at a time. I just don't understand it."
Such restraint isn't one of Dillon's fortes, but he's mellowing with age. Since he's been in the business for so long, some people still think of him as the abrasive teenage actor.
He admits his early image as a rough and tough teenage idol has been one of the most difficult things to shake in his career. "I think sometimes when you're younger, your perceptions of what people think of you are different," he says. "They have a harder time accepting your transitions than you do. It's very easy to get pigeonholed and I remember that was difficult to overcome. I'll always be a little frustrated with being perceived as somebody who is just a heartthrob instead of being an actor. People make references like that, and it's just frustrating."
Nonetheless, people who know his work remain impressed. The image of the bad-tempered teen idol is fading. Take, for example, the views of influential syndicated movie critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. He wrote in last year's review of To Die For: "Dillon, the former teen idol whose acting has always been underrated, here turns in a sly comic performance as a man dazzled by beauty but seduced by comfort." A few years before, Ebert called Dillon's lead role in Drugstore Cowboy "one of the great recent American movie performances."
Yes, Dillon would certainly prefer it if more people would remember him for his acting ability and not as a star or celebrity. "I think more in terms of the work," he says. "I don't think about being a celebrity. I don't preoccupy myself too much with being famous. I don't try to hold on to some kind of image. I remember sometimes thinking people thought of me this way or that. But I did not want to be considered a star. I always just wanted to be considered an actor. That is what I do and that is what I pride myself on--my work. That is what counts."
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