Matt Dillon to Star in Upcoming Fox Series: A Look at His Rare Small-Screen Moments

The movie star signs on for his first regular role on a TV series.

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Shelley Long and Matt Dillon on “Modern Family” — "Cheers" to the producers of ABC's hit comedy for bringing back Long, one of last season's best guest stars. Long reprises her role as Jay's crazy ex-wife DeDe, who arrives at Lily's birthday party with Claire's high school boyfriend (Dillon) as her date. Ooooh... we can feel the tension already. ARE WE EXCITED? We wouldn't miss it. — Wednesday, 2/16 at 9pm ET on ABC

Matt Dillon has had a fairytale career, when, starting at age 14, he broke onto the movie scene via a series of rebellious teen roles in films like "Over the Edge" and "Little Darlings." (The actor's story of being "discovered" as a teen while cutting class at his New York middle school is legendary.)

Since then, he's become a movie star in his own right, earning an Academy Award nod for his 2006 role in the movie "Crash." Even though Dillon clocked very TV time on his path to stardom, he has turned up on the small screen a few times over the years -- and now he's about to return in a big way.

According to Deadline, the actor is set to star in Fox's upcoming M. Night Shyamalan's "event" series "Wayward Pines," which is slated to debut on the network next season. The not-so-mini-series (12 episodes have been ordered) is based on Blake Crouch's bestselling novel "Pines," with Dillon starring as Secret Service agent Ethan Burke, and it's said to have a "Twin Peaks" kind of vibe. Matt and M? Sounds like movie-making heaven, but it's on TV!

While we mull that over, Matt Dillon's new small screen series also brings to mind some of his past TV moments.

"The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters" (1982)

In 1982, Dillon appeared in PBS' "American Playhouse" special "The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters." And if you think his character, Ralph, seemed a tad familiar, you're right. The low-budget TV special was based on Jean Shepherd's coming-of-age stories about his Indiana hometown; you'd later see a prequel to some of these tales played out in the 1983 big-screen classic "A Christmas Story." Even Flick and Schwartz were in the PBS version, as well as Ralphie's Old Man and brother Randy. Check out a clip here (Dillon first appears at the 4:20 mark):

"The Simpsons" (2007)

With nearly 25 seasons under its belt, who hasn't made a cameo on "The Simpsons"? Matt Dillon is no exception, lending his recognizable voice to the animated series in the 2007 episode "Midnight Towboy." In the Season 19 episode, Dillon played Louie, a tow-truck driver from Guidopolis who showed Homer the ropes of the road -- until Homer started honing in on his towing turf. As a payback, it was makeshift jail time for hometown hero Homer. You can watch the episode here.

"Modern Family" (2011)

Talk about an ex-boyfriend from hell! Ever since his "There's Something About Mary" days (he played Cameron Diaz's cheesy suitor, Pat Healy, in the 1998 flick), the dashing Dillon has perfected the sleazy boyfriend role. In 2011, he stopped by the ABC sitcom "Modern Family" to portray Claire's high school boyfriend, Robbie Sullivan. An all-grown-up, limo-driving Robbie hooked up with Claire's mom (yuck!), and Claire was mortified to have her daughters see her embarrassing ex: "Every time he opens his mouth, I can feel my daughters losing respect for me," she said. (But will he respect her mom in the morning?)

"Women and Men 2" (1991)

A year before he co-starred with Kyra Sedgwick in the big-screen movie "Singles," Matt Dillon teamed up with her for HBO's made-for-TV short film "Women and Men 2." The film was based on stories by 20th century American authors Irwin Shaw, Carson McCullers, and Henry Miller, and also starred Juliette Binoche, Scott Glenn, Andie McDowell, and Ray Liotta. Dillon's vignette, "Return to Kansas City," was based on Shaw's story of a boxer and his wife. Watch the trailer now:

"Fairytale of New York" video (1987)

Once upon a time, MTV actually played music videos. The 1987 video by The Pogues opened with Matt Dillon playing a NYPD officer who escorted the band's lead singer, Shane MacGowan, to the drunk tank. According to UK's The Guardian, the video was shot in New York City during a bitterly cold week, and Dillon was too nervous to manhandle MacGowan during their scene until the freezing singer told him, "Just kick the sh-- out of me and throw me in the cell, and then we can be warm!" Check out the "Fairytale of New York" video here:

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