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Howling With Jack

Stephen Dorff prefers a good time to the big time

By LOUIS B. HOBSON -- Calgary Sun

NEW YORK -- Stephen Dorff loves the night life, and boy did he boogie the night away last week.

"I turned 25 and it was a pretty traumatic experience so I threw myself a real party,"says Dorff.  "The guest list was 80 percent girls and 20 percent guys. Those are my kind of odds.

"Jack Nicholson came and took one look at the ratio and told me it was his kind of party."

Dorff starred with Nicholson in the dark thriller Blood and Wine and, despite the difference in their ages, the two have been friends ever since.

"Jack even posed outside the (Buffalo Club) without his shades on. If you know Jack, that's a real honor. It was the coolest thing about my birthday."

Dorff has been acting since he was 14. He started out guest-starring on TV sitcoms, eventually playing Becky's boyfriend on Roseanne.

His big break came when he played the lead in the TV miniseries I know My Name is Steven, and he graduated to feature films when he played the young South African boxer in The Power of One.

Hollywood thought they'd found a new teen idol, but Dorff was having none of that. He turned down roles in films like Speed to star in small, independent films like Back Beat, City of Industry, S.F.W. and I Shot Andy Warhol.

Two years ago, James Cameron asked Dorff to read for the struggling artist in Titanic. As everyone knows, the role went to Leonardo DiCaprio.

"I didn't turn down the role," Dorff says. "I just

didn't get it. Now I'm relieved it didn't happen for me.

"I want to have a career like Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Jack Nicholson. I want to win an Oscar

one day. That would have been impossible if I'd got Titanic. Look at Leo. His career can only go downhill from here.

"He'll always be the guy on the boat. His fans will never want him to be anybody else.

"I'm only 25. I've got a long way to go before I do my one big movie. Leo's younger than me and he's already done it."

Dorff's first big-budget film is the sci-fi thriller Blade, which opens Friday in Calgary.

He plays a yuppie vampire being tracked by

Wesley Snipes' superhuman vampire slayer.

"I loved vampire movies growing up," he says. "Lost Boys was a really cool movie for me -- that's why I jumped at the chance to star in Blade.

"Vampires are the sexy monsters."

Dorff grew up in a middle-class home in the affluent San Fernando Valley. His father Steve Dorff is a composer for movies, having scored most of Clint Eastwood's early films.

"I visited the set of Clint's Every Which Way But Loose when I was 13. There was a kid on the set my age. I loved the idea that he didn't have to go to a regular school. That's what made me want to be an actor.

"I've only grown to love and understand what acting really means these past couple of years."

Dorff plays guitar and piano and writes music.

"Music is in my blood. My dad wrote and produced songs for Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks and a lot of other country dudes I've never heard of.

"My brother Andrew, who just turned 21, has put out his first album. It's doing really well in Europe.

"I'm leaving the music to him and he's leaving the acting to me. Sometime in the future we might switch.

"I've got a lot of great friends in the music world. That's good enough for me right now."

These friends include Irish rockers U2, who Dorff met while filming his newest movie Entropy. He plays a hip young

director making a documentary about U2.

"I got to go on their concert tour with them. I was being filmed pretending to be filming them."

Since he broke into feature films, Dorff has been compared to River Phoenix and Christian Slater.

"River's death was a great blow to me," he says. "Many of my friends are messed on drugs. They use drugs as an

escape, not realizing they're really a trap.

"If someone like River who had an incredible mind could be destroyed by drugs, that's a big warning to all of us. It sure woke me up.

"Booze has routinely been my escape but it never really works.

"I like the night life, but I prefer to remember my nights the following day."