Dillon: I feel like in a way I havenít had the opportunity to do as broad a spectrum of characters. Itís the one thing I havenít tapped into as much as I would like to.

Me: Bob from Drugstore Cowboy and Pat Healy from Thereís Something About Mary are light-years apart.

Dillon: Yes. Itís true. But I want to do something people wouldnít naturally see me in. I want to be able to push myself.

Crash costar Terrence Howard: What roles hasnít he played? The character choices he makes, itís almost like heís looking to fail. He may have a stud in his genes, but thereís an artist in his heart.

Wilson: Heís one of those guys like Gene Hackman, where heís never less than good.

Kevin Bacon, Dillonís longtime pal: Matt makes his choices based on things other than money and fame, and heís always kept himself open. Thatíll give you a foundation for a lifelong career. Heíll never be a flash in the pan, which is unusual, because, without naming names, how many flashes in the pan was he surrounded by in his early movies? He was just one of the boys, right? But heís the one whoís hung in.

After 1998ís double whammy of Wild Things and Thereís Something About Mary, there was the possibility that you didnít hear much about Dillon for a while. Eating the right kind of chicken (he tells our waitress he doesnít want the dark meat) and quitting smoking (itís been a decade, he says) have kept him camera-readyóas handsome as he was when your older sister swooned over him during her ďtin grins are inĒ era. But, he acknowledges, for a big chunk of time he had fallen off the map.

If you ask Dillon whether he wants to have kids someday (he does), heíll joke and say, ďI had a kid. It was a movie. It took seven years to get made.Ē Heís talking about 2003ís City of Ghosts, his debut as a feature filmmaker. The insurance-fraud caper was set and filmed in Cambodia. It vibes Joseph Conrad, is full of land mines and amputations, and features a sinisterly grandiose James Caan sporting a James Lipton beard, as well as Gťrard Depardieu looking like the twisted offspring of the man in the moon and Andre the Giant.

ďIt wasnít this overwhelming success,Ē Dillon allows. In the United States, it pulled in just over $300,000 (no, there are no zeros missing) and did not play in Peoria. The fact that it got finished at all after enduring financing turbulence in a country beset by coups speaks to Dillonís canít-turn-it-off, almost androidlike ambition. For instance, in the middle of preproduction, the brother of Dillonís assistant got used as a human shield during a rebel attack on the Ministry of Defense.