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Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton Discuss "Crash"

By

Thandie Newton Matt Dillon Crash

Thandie Newton and Matt Dillon star in "Crash"

© Lions Gate Films
"Crash" is a thought-provoking look at racial stereotypes in America. Written and directed by Paul Haggis, "Crash" is set in Los Angeles, a city in which strangers never come into contact unless they crash into one another - literally.

Featuring an ensemble cast which includes Thandie Newton, Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Phillippe, Don Cheadle, and Ludacris, "Crash" is an intense drama that leaves audiences with plenty to talk about after the credits roll.

INTERVIEW WITH THANDIE NEWTON AND MATT DILLON:

What reluctance did you have to embrace this character’s flaws?

MATT DILLON: I wanted to be very truthful with this character. I recognized things that I felt to be true totally in the script about human nature and I wanted to be honest about it. I wouldn’t have gone into this project with any other agenda. I‘ve never been one that has been that concerned with my character looking good and with this one, there’s redemption in the story. I guess I didn’t have a lot of identification with the character although I know the LAPD’s reputation for being very aggressive. So I could recognize that with being true.

Paul Haggis and [writer Bobby Moresco] said they used racism to explore fear. What’s your take on the script?

THANDIE NEWTON: I think when I read the script that’s exactly what came to the surface, that racism was just a tool to deal with frustration and pain. That we were in denial about the way we feel and desperately trying to control their environment the way their lives are. And, ultimately, their scapegoats aren’t going to make them feel better. It’s just going to increase hatred and the problem gets worse and worse. That’s what’s so wonderful about the film is that it allows you to see their motivation and to see that behind the aggressive cop is a man in pain. Behind the frustrated housewife is a woman who feels betrayed. You see the motivation, which is so much more valuable than the stereotypes that we usually see in the movies. Racism is just one piece to the whole puzzle that the film offers.

Can you talk about working together? You have two very difficult scenes together.

MATT DILLON: Thandie was so nice and cool. There was a sense of trust that she had with me and that I had with Paul. There had to be that. I’ll let Thandie speak too, but I think we needed to trust the director.

THANDIE NEWTON: Absolutely. With something like this, it’s such sensitive material and obviously has to be dealt with such sensitivity. It was important that Matt and I got along as people and had a clear understanding of the importance of this scene in the story. With a script like this, the story is what’s important. There was no ego, no role was more important than the other. We all had an objective which was to get this story right. We were basically very open and keen to let Paul guide us.

MATT DILLON: It’s great working with such a big ensemble, too. Even though I didn’t have scenes with the majority of the cast – it was mostly with Thandie, Terrence [Howard], and Ryan [Phillippe], but the point was it was really interesting. Just to be a part of the great ensemble was really exciting. And to have a director as passionate as Paul was… It’s not like a job anymore.

PAGE 2: On Los Angeles, Racial Tensions, and the LAPD

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