To a certain generation of moviegoer, few faces are more familiar than Matt Dillon's. After breaking onto the scene at the tender age of 14 in 'Over the Edge,' Dillon quickly filled his resume with roles as the troubled bad boy in films like 'Tex,' 'Rumble Fish,' and 'The Outsiders.'

While many of his early-career co-stars had difficulty escaping teen-heartthrob territory, Dillon successfully transitioned to adult roles, consistently making bold choices that defied expectations. From the raunchy comedy 'There's Something About Mary' to the steamy thriller 'Wild Things' to his Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance as a police officer in 'Crash,' there's a fearlessness to Dillon's choices that recalls, well -- gotta say it -- a troubled bad boy, playing by nobody's rules but his own.
To a certain generation of moviegoer, few faces are more familiar than Matt Dillon's. After breaking onto the scene at the tender age of 14 in 'Over the Edge,' Dillon quickly filled his resume with roles as the troubled bad boy in films like 'Tex,' 'Rumble Fish,' and 'The Outsiders.'

While many of his early-career co-stars had difficulty escaping teen-heartthrob territory, Dillon successfully transitioned to adult roles, consistently making bold choices that defied expectations. From the raunchy comedy 'There's Something About Mary' to the steamy thriller 'Wild Things' to his Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance as a police officer in 'Crash,' there's a fearlessness to Dillon's choices that recalls, well -- gotta say it -- a troubled bad boy, playing by nobody's rules but his own.

In his latest film, 'Armored,' Dillon plays a corrupt security guard who organizes a risky heist. We stole a few minutes of the actor's time to talk 'Armored' and more.

There's a rich history of heist films. Is that a genre you've always been attracted to?
Yeah, I go back with heist films, they're some of my favorites. 'The Asphalt Jungle' is a heist film I like. I guess there's different types of heist films. There's one that's about the one big heist, which this movie would fall under. And then there are other ones that are a little bit different, like 'House of Bamboo' by Sam Fuller. I like them typically when the characters are interesting and I thought that was what was good about this one. The characters are pretty well defined for an action film. There's no superheros in this thing. They're very grounded.

Your character Cochrane is mastermind of the heist, but he also has a mentor relationship with Ty (Columbus Short) as his godfather. Did you feel like he wasn't your typical bad guy?

That's one of the things I liked about the character. When I started reading it, I thought it was very poignant, the relationship he had with Ty. Ty's father had been his mentor and now he's the mentor of Ty, and I think the feelings he has for him are genuine. But he's also a manipulator and ruthless in a way. And so I think those two things are in conflict with each other in his personality. That's what makes for a rich character.

Ty is a decorated veteran of the Iraq war, who has come home to financial instability and limited job prospects. Do you think about politics when you choose a role like this?
I spoke with [Screen Gems president] Clint Culpepper about it. It was right when things were kind of shaky -- and he was talking about how these guys are real guys and this is gonna ring home with people. I think there is something to that. I think the struggles that Ty is having trying to keep his house ... he's this legit guy who has served his country, works a legitimate job, he serves and protects, and what does he get for it? They're going to foreclose and take his home away. My character certainly seizes that as an opportunity to manipulate him. I think some of us have gotten kind of cynical when we see so many of these financial institutions that we're supposed to trust and feel safe with ... We realize it's been a sham and they've burned us ... In a way, the characters are doing something that has been done to them. We've been screwed so what faith do we have in the system? It's totally analogous with what's going on now, in a way.

Do you find yourself feeling sympathetic to that point of view?
Well it's funny. I don't know why, but audiences are often sympathetic to thieves. Sometimes they are more sympathetic to thieves then they are to earnest people. [Laughs] What does that say about society?

Your 'Crash' co-star Terrence Howard said of you, "He may have a stud in his genes, but there's an artist in his heart." Was the teen idol image something you struggled to shake off?

I don't feel like I struggled to shake off an image because I never really tried to project an image. It was more about, when I was younger I feel like I was impatient a lot, like I wanted to do interesting roles more and work with interesting filmmakers and I found it frustrating when it wasn't happening at times. I always felt supremely confident in my abilities but I wanted things to happen on my time, and it doesn't always work that way. Those growing pains when you're younger and some people aren't taking you seriously -- or you feel like they're not taking you seriously -- that's tough when you're young and you feel that way. You don't know what's in store for you ... As far as having an artist in my heart, I definitely feel that way, that I am [laughs]. Terrence came up with that? [Laughs]



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Much has been made of you being "discovered" in high school.
That word "discovered" never really sat well with me. I was asked, like a lot of kids were, to audition for a film ['Over the Edge']. People say it was a "talent scout." It wasn't a talent scout, it was a casting director. Instead of casting professional actors they wanted to look for people who were not traditional actors. So that's how it came about, but I don't know about "discovery." If they discovered me, they discovered the other thousand people who went in and auditioned for that movie, from all of the other high schools they went to around the country. I went in and I auditioned and that's how I got it.

Any advice for other young actors coming up now? The Robert Pattinsons and Taylor Lautners of the world?

I don't like to give out advice. I make suggestions when I get to know somebody a little bit, but I don't know about advice. It looks like they're doing all right for themselves. I don't want to get anybody in trouble by giving them the wrong advice.

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