Slumming it: Director Jonathan Kaplan saw in the 14-year-old Matt the qualities he needed for his gritty rites of passage pic, Over The Edge: "working-class, Lower East Side, Italian". It's a testament to the adolescent Dillon's mugging that the teenager who seemed a bona fide street- kid was actually the second of six children in a happy Irish middle-class family from a well-to-do suburb of New York.

Primary colours: The young Dillon first squared up to an audience in the fourth grade, when he won the role of American President Benjamin Franklin in a school play.

Looking good: If you think an acting career comes naturally to one as finely chiselled as our Matt, it's worth considering the fate of some his peers who vied for pin-up boy honours in the early Eighties - seen Rob Lowe or Ralph Macchio lately?

Matt finish: Dillon began to make the transition from teen-idol to respected actor when he fell under the guidance of young-adult fiction author, Susan Hinton. He had already quit high school and starred in a film adaptation of Hinton's Tex when the writer persuaded Francis Ford Coppola to cast Dillon in director's productions of Hinton's two other novels, The Outsider and Rumble Fish.

Table Matt: Now that he's established himself as a successful character actor, Dillon has found time to get into the restaurant business: a bar called Whiskey is his, as is an altogether classier joint, the Falls.

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