Upon meeting actor Matt Dillon, he's sprawled alone on a couch in a large office at MCA-Universal's Park Avenue headquarters.
His hair is tousled; his tie askew. He looks sleepy and acts, by turns, both suspicious and seductive.First he informs his visitor that he's pleased to see she's female after assuming a man will be coming to interview him. He asks her ancestry.
But the first question aimed at him causes an abrupt change in his mood. "How old are you?" he is asked.
Dillon stretches on the couch and looks uncomfortable. He wants the answer off the record. Just say he's in his mid-20s. Subsequent questions also make him uneasy.
So he's asked what he wants to talk about. He briefly perks up when discussing "A Kiss Before Dying," a remake of the 1956 suspense thriller with Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward, based on the novel by Ira Levin.
Dillon stars with Sean Young in the 1991 version, which was written and directed by James Dearden, who made "Fatal Attraction." Dillon plays a charming, social-climbing psychopath whose dazzling smile belies a murderous temper.
Dillon's Jonathan Corliss is a handsome, ambitious yuppie from a poor family who ingratiates himself with the daughter of a tycoon so he can take over her father's company. But when people get in his way, he snaps. His thin veneer of charm evaporates and he kills them.
"I've never done a movie like this before," Dillon says."It's not just playing a character. You really have to tell a story."
Dillon rambles on for awhile, gazes out the window and suddenly seems irritated.
"You're not asking any questions. Go ahead and ask something," he says.
But when a question is posed about how he got his start in movies, Dillon is even more annoyed.
"That's old news, why are you asking that?" he says.
Dillon, who was raised in a family of six children in Westchester County, just north of here, began acting at 14. A talent scout looking for teen-agers for the film, "Over the Edge" visited his junior high school, spotted Dillon and gave him a co-starring role.
He went on to play troubled teen-agers in such early 1980s movies as "Tex," "Rumblefish" and "The Outsiders," the latter two directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He also starred in "My Bodyguard," "Little Darlings" and "Liar's Moon" and received acclaim for his role as a junkie who commits a series of holdups in the 1989 film, "Drugstore Cowboy."
Dillon left high school in the 11th grade and moved onto adult roles in "Targets," with Gene Hackman and such little-seen films as "The Big Town," "Kansas" and "Bloodhounds on Broadway."
But Dillon grows more hostile with questions about his screen image as a troubled tough guy and which roles he wants to play in the future. The questions remind the actor of the current cover story on him in a recent magazine in which he got "burned," he says.
"She (the reporter) put in all this stuff about how I'm `Mr. Moody,' `Mr. Moodswing,' " Dillon complains.
He is then asked why he appears to be on the defensive. Big mistake. Dillon's classic, symmetrical features darken like a storm cloud. A barrage of accusations ensues.
"No, you're the one who's defensive," he says. "You're trying to pigeonhole me. You're putting words in my mouth."
He's told this is not true.
"You're hypersensitive," he says, and then leans forward. "Are you all right? Are you sure you're all right?"
Then he slumps back on the couch, looking as if he might cry.
"Come on, I just flew in last night. I'm tired, I got an earache, I'm spaced," he says. "Just go ahead and ask your little questions."
Too late. The notebook is shut, the pen is put away and he is told the interview is over.
But apparently one does not leave Matt Dillon. He jumps up, lunges for the reporter's notebook, grabs it and hurls it against the far wall. He points down at his watch in a fury.
"Get out!" he yells. "Your (expletive deleted) time is up!"