Film Scouts Diaries

2005 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries
Day 3, Part 2: A Different Matt Dillon. Really.

by Henri Béhar

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, July 3. — Some actors are like grand cru wines: they get better (and more full-bodied) with the passing of time. Former enfant terrible of Hollywood's nouvelle generation (and at 40, still one hell of a party animal), Matt Dillon has come to town to present Bent Hamer's Factotum, in which he plays a fellow named Henry Chinaski, who is none other than the alter ego of writer Charles Bukowski, of Barfly and Tales of Ordinary Madness fame.

Say what? "Pretty-Face" Matt as self-described "ugly, pock-marked" Bukowski? Dillon admits it was a big surprise for him to be offered the part. Yes, he'd always wanted to play characters that were not beautiful (isn't that what all beautiful people say?), yet he hemmed and hawed and felt comfortable accepting the Henry Chinaski part only once he knew he didn't have to do an impersonation of Charles Bukowski. That "would have been a terrible mistake". He had been a big fan of Bukowski's writings since his early twenties and, with age, came to a complete reassessment of the writer. "When I read him as a kid, it was all that kind of rebellious, low-life world he lived in [that I responded to]. His irreverence, his humor. Now I have developed an appreciation for his poetry, and I think there is a shyness and a vulnerability in him that I was unaware of."

Dillon may not know "if it's so much the part [he's] been waiting for," as he put it in his Festival Daily interview, but it sure is the part his true aficionados had been waiting for. And the consensus among Festival-goers was that his Henry Chinaski might well be the nouveau Dillon's breakthrough role, triggering a whole new career that might last for the rest of his life.

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