Breckin Meyer: Oscar, Meyer?

Years ago, Drew Barrymore scooped the world on the off-center appeal of actor Breckin Meyer.


It seems an 11-year-old Meyer and the 10-year-old Barrymore gave each other their first kisses, and it was one memorable smackeroo because she rhapsodized about it in her Little Girl Lost autobiography while still a young teen, and brought it up again at 20 when I interviewed her.

"You know how it is," says the now 23-year-old Meyer. "Every time you kiss someone else, in a way you always remember that very first time."

Best known so far for strutting his broken-nosed, sexy-stoner self in Clueless and The Craft, Meyer steps out in the glitz-and-grit 54 to play the hot Italian busboy of '70s Manhattan's definitive disco club during the don't-ask-don't-care era of cocaine, sex-to-go and orgasmic Donna Summer vocals. Clad in little more than silver satin shorts, Meyer's character is what he calls "the moral fiber of the story," the husband of knockout coat-check girl Salma Hayek and the object of bartender Ryan Phillippe's desire. "I've played the quirky 'best friend' a lot and a stoner five times, so this isn't bad for my first grown-up role, huh?" observes the sweet-natured actor, grinning ear to ear. "I mean, [legendary nightclub owner] Steve Rubell wants to blow my character through the entire movie, but I won't let him. Then I have a love scene with Salma and a make-out scene with Ry, two super-pretty people. I've got nowhere to go but down after that, right?"

Meyer tapped into the disco zeitgeist by studying disco documentaries and by bartending at Manhattan's hot Rebar, but none of this research prepared him for his sex scene with Hayek. "I told Salma I was terrified about every aspect of our love scene, and, when we started to rehearse, she started slamming her pelvis into me over and over and I was, like, 'What the hell are you doing?' I felt something down there and she finally said, 'Hold on,' whips out of her pants this silver-wrapped clay penis she'd put there to grind against me, and goes, 'How come you didn't notice?' I said, 'Hey, I didn't know if it was me or what!' She was really happy to have popped my cherry and yelled on the set, 'Breckin's first love scene, everyone!'" And what about his make-out scene with Phillippe? "We don't even know if it's still in the movie, but it's one of my favorite scenes I've ever done," says Meyer. "Truman Capote and Andy Warhol have just left the club and our characters are in the basement on 'luudes and they have this great kiss."

Since Meyer also had a star role earlier this year in Dancer, Texas, Pop. 81 and he's in the upcoming GO, I wonder if the doors of leading-man status are about to open for him. "For awhile, I got stupid about only wanting a leading-man role, but I have no illusions. I know I'm not Brad Pitt. It's just I hate reading the description 'offbeat' about a character in a script, because I, along with Seth Green, Jamie Kennedy and a few others, have cornered the market on 'offbeat.'" Then again, he says, "I don't want to be Matt Damon II, because he's doing too cool a job being the Matt Damon I." What does that leave? "My idols are Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, John Goodman. Maybe that's what I want for me."


Stephen Rebello