Actor Matt Dillon's career has spanned decades but just lately it seems to have gone into overdrive.
The star, who has been fairly lowkey in recent years, is appearing in not one but two car movies this summer.
He takes the driving seat in Herbie: Fully Loaded, alongside Lindsay Lohan and also appears in the ensemble piece Crash, opening today.
However the two films couldn't be more different. Herbie is a remake of the classic Disney comedy while Crash is a dark and unsettling drama exploring themes of racism and violence - so unsettling in fact that Matt himself couldn't bear to watch the final movie.
"I felt very uncomfortable at the premiere,'' he admits. "I actually didn't want to sit through it.''
Hardly surprising since the 41-year-old plays a vehemently racist LA cop Officer Ryan who sexually molests his co-star Thandie Newton's character.
And he says portraying Ryan was his most challenging role to date.
"For me, it was very difficult to play a character who is this extreme. I found it quite disturbing to do those scenes where he's very abusive and angry,'' he explains.
"But I wanted to be very truthful to this character. I recognised things that I felt to be true about human nature and I wanted to be honest about it.
"I don't think he's a bad person. He really loves his father, he can also be very devoted and he's very confident with his duties as a police officer, but he also abuses them. He just doesn't really deal with his feelings very well.''
The star, who shot to fame as a teenager in the movie Rumblefish, admits he had his own pretty negative view of the LAPD before making the film.
"I don't have active resentments towards them but there is that fear that when I pull up next to a cop that I'm going to get pulled over,'' he explains.
"It's just a free floating anxiety that I feel. I felt the script was pretty accurate from everything that I know from personal experience and what I read about in the papers.''
However, some of that anxiety was allayed when he spent time with the LAPD for research.
"I went in trying to find out just how nasty those guys can be and what I found out wasn't that simple. Most of them were just trying to do their job and that, yeah, there are some bad eggs, but it's not everybody.''
Even so Matt couldn't wait to cast off the intensity of his character and do the feelgood family comedy Herbie.
"The accommodation was a lot better on Herbie,'' he says jokingly. "But it's great to do a film where they have the time to shoot it and it's a bigger project. I like to work in both areas.''
The fact that he can is testament to the fact he has emerged from teenage heart-throb in films such as The Outsiders and The Flamingo Kid to mature all-rounder in thrillers such as A Kiss Before Dying and hit comedies such as There's Something About Mary.
He made his big screen debut at the age of 15 and grew up in the spotlight and is consequently sympathetic to his controversial Herbie co-star Lindsay Lohan, who last week pulled out of the movie premiere in London.
"How many 18-year-olds are under that kind of scrutiny? She's a young person, doing what she's doing. That's what kids do,'' he defends.
"I think somehow when I was her age I stayed under the radar and I think it's unfair these days the way magazines and papers are judging women on their weight and all that kind of stuff.
"I started acting at a young age, but what's so obvious to me is that I actually was really lucky. I gained a lot and I got a head start in what I wanted to do in life. A lot of people in their late 20s, early 30s are just beginning to figure out where they want to go.''
Matt hit the headlines himself during his high-profile relationship with actress Cameron Diaz. The pair were Hollywood's golden couple in the mid 90s.
But while Cameron has remained in the spotlight thanks to her engagement to singer Justin Timberlake, these days Matt, who is single, prefers the quiet life.
"I don't preoccupy myself too much with being famous,'' he says. "I think more in terms of work. I've always just wanted to be considered an actor. I pride myself on my work. That is what counts.''
He's probably doesn't have too many worries on that score at the moment. He's more in demand than ever and reckons life couldn't be better.
"I'm at a really good place because I keep moving,'' he says eagerly. "I'm rewriting a script. I get to do drama and comedy.
"I was in the middle of doing a film called Factotum, as Charles Bukowski, playing a drunken poet and I got the call that they'd like me to be in Herbie, and then I do Crash with a fantastic ensemble cast and just to be a part of a great ensemble was really exciting, you know.
"That's when it's not like a job any more,'' he adds with a satisfied smile.