Armored Set Visit: Matt Dillon


Fresh off the set and still in his gasoline-soaked security uniform, Matt Dillon stopped to talk to about why he’s so passionate about Armored and what it’s like working with Laurence Fishburne again:

Q: It smells like you’ve got gasoline all over you.
Matt Dillon: I know they’ve got fire gel all over me under this thing.

Q: You’ve had a tough day.
Dillon: Yeah, this is the first movie I’ve been set on fire. These guys are amazing at what they do. But this is fun. I think this rolling around in the dirt doing this stuff, it’s like being a kid again, you know. It’s just a lot of fun.

Q: It looks like you just went through a war.
Dillon: It is like a war, this movie. The characters don’t, but the movie goes through major arcs and the audience will get taken on this ride because it starts out they’re all like friends, they’re like it’s a brotherhood of these guys working for Eagle Shield Security, they come up together. It’s like a fraternity in a way that the police and firemen are it’s like a fraternity. And in the end it all sort of becomes unglued and greed sort of gets the better of everybody… or not the better of everybody, almost everybody. And it’s kind of fun, my character is very fun. And my character is very manipulative. He’s very charming in the beginning and in the end he kind of turns. He kind of goes south. He turns into a monster and I like that. I like that because it is who he is, but all is not what it seems with Cochrane and that’s I think what I like about this film; is you’ve got a really good cast, really interesting actors and each one of them is distinctive, right. It’s character-driven. Jean Reno is very specific and Fishburne is very, very specific and everybody’s got their own sort of thing.

Q: Do you think we’ll end up sympathizing with these guys?
Dillon: I think these characters will be compelling. You’ll end up certainly sympathizing with Columbus Short’s character. You’ll absolutely end up sympathizing with him.

Q: Why?
Dillon: Because in the end he’s a guy who’s got a real moral core and he does the right thing. Not all these guys are polished criminals and that’s what interesting. None of these characters are really polished criminals or they wouldn’t have the job that they have. Although I have the tendency to think that Laurence and I have been up to a lot of shady stuff. I was saying about the reason you’ll sympathize with him is because he’s a guy that stays rational and he stays human, whereas the other guys start to slowly do things that they might not have imagined that they’d do for the sake of getting rich and greed.

Q: How does your character get caught on fire?
Dillon: Because there’s an explosion. Without giving away too much of the plot, there’s an explosion from one of the armored cars. It’s been rigged and it’s right at the moment when myself, Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburne are going into the truck. Fortunately, I’m not inside the truck so I survive the explosion. So that’s how my leg catches on fire.

Q: Who rigs the truck?
Dillon: I can’t give away all the secrets (laughs). You can imagine how… Columbus’ character, Hackett, he’s the one who decides to do the right thing and in the wake of all the insanity that’s going on around us, he’s the one who stays sane.

Q: We were talking to the other cast and they were all saying how they were excited about working with you and Laurence because you guys are kind of the Coppola veterans.
Dillon: Yeah!

Q: And so they’ve been hitting you up for stories. But I think that’s interesting the history that you bring to these movies and how people grew up watching you.
Dillon: Laurence and I worked together… he’s got a couple years on me, but we were very young when we worked together some… I mean, like back in the early ’80s and it’s really good because we got along really well then. We like the same music. He’s just a great guy. Laurence is a really, really interesting guy. He’s had this long career, he’s done some of the best movies I think ever made and more importantly he’s a real people-person and really smart and has a lot of interesting ideas and thoughts about things. And he’s just a really interesting guy; great guy to work with. Just a really actor’s actor and just a great actor’s actor, but the entire cast, I’ve really loved it. It’s a really good ensemble and I like it. I mean, I like this because it is character-driven ultimately. It’s a very energized movie where I think the script is good, but I think that Nimrod’s made it his own film, he’s transcended or he’s making it his own film and he really streamlines things. He’ll combine scenes; you know be able to say “we don’t really need all this, let’s”… it’s not that we don’t need it, he compresses it so it moves so the pace of the film is really good. But I trust him as an actor’s director. He’s given me really good direction and he’s a real force on the set.

Q: How rare is it for a young director to be a good actor’s director because so many of them are visualizers that they kind of come up in commercials and videos?
Dillon: Make no mistake about it, Nimrod is a real visual filmmaker. He’s real visual and he’s really talented and creative, but I think it’s his instincts about performance more than anything else. His eye, his taste, I think so much of it comes down to instincts and tastes with filmmakers because they’re relying on other people to do very specific jobs and they have to trust their gut. He’s got great instincts, great passion. That’s really, really important. I mean, I came on board because I really loved his first film that I saw, “Kontroll” and he’s just got so much passion and real creativity. I can’t imagine him doing anything else but being a filmmaker.

Q: What exactly is your role at Eagle Shield Security?
Dillon: I’m kind of a veteran with the company. I guess the captain of his truck. I guess each truck has a team of three and I’m sort of the leader and Laurence Fishburne is sort of the wingman and then in the jump seat in the back is the young guy, the newcomer, the rookie, which is Columbus, and Jean Reno has that same role in his truck. He’s a little disillusioned trying to make ends meet, he’s got domestic problems at home and he uses that as part of his whole manipulative scheme. Columbus’s character [is] also struggling. He uses that and manipulates him and says, “Is this the way you want to live your life forever?” So that’s what they do, he’s an officer at this security company and that’s his role, his job.

Q: What other stunts are they having you do yourself?
Dillon: You know, I mean, minor stuff, you know. But you always get banged up a little bit when you’re doing stunt stuff… tackles, bruised rib, you know, kicked in the knee. You know, stuff like that. It’s nothing serious. I’m not doing any like… not rolling any cars over or, you know, jumping off any cliffs. You know, nothing like that.

Q: You do everything from little independent films to big ensemble dramas and some comedies. Were you looking for an action role or is this the sort of thing you’d like to do more?
Dillon: I’ve always wanted to do action stuff. I like it. You really want something that’s special; that’s got something special about it and not cheesy I guess. I’ll tell you something, it’s fun, it’s different. Comedy is difficult. Doing comedy is very difficult. Action stuff is fun. This is drama. Let’s just say there’s very dramatic scenes, big scenes with lots of dialogue in the beginning part and then it just sort of, the pace picks up, it becomes a whole other thing. But it sets up the film really well. It sets up all the characters and the relationships get set up. I think of it as a kind of like a “Wages of Fear” type of a story or you know a Melville film in a way. It’s got that feeling. Even the fact that there’s this French character, it’s kind of great. Fishburne is a very dynamic; interesting cast of characters. One of them is really religious, but it doesn’t feel sort of tacked on. It just feels very natural with these guys. And yeah, very happy with this group.

Q: It’s a great cast.
Dillon: And I think it’s going to have a really interesting look to it. It’s definitely not a Jeanette MacDonald musical (laughs). It’s not a romantic… it’s not a wedding movie or a chick flick, but I think it’s really a lot of fun.

Q: It is weird to do a movie with no girls in it?
Dillon: Are there no girls in this film? (laughs) Oh yeah, there’s that one girl. She’s asleep.

Q: Who was that? Your wife?
Dillon: My wife. She’s sick. But yeah, it’s funny. I don’t think that has any bearing on… I still think it’ll be an interesting film. I’m hoping. But again I really do think it feels like one of those films I haven’t seen in a while. One of those action films – it’s got an ensemble, it’s got diverse characters in it.

Q: It’s also unusual to shoot it in chronological order. Does that help you or do anything for you? Or is it all the same?
Dillon: Oh, it helps. It really helps. It’s really necessary for this thing. I mean, most of it’s going to be done that way, except for the stunts.

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