John C. Reilly Ruminates on Good and Evil

Actor John C. Reilly (search) suspects he could use his craft for good — or evil.

"As an actor, there are plenty of opportunities to con people once you develop the talent," Reilly, 39, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. "So I've always viewed using my talent, or whatever you call it, in that way as flirting with the dark side of things. I've always resisted the impulse to take advantage of people."

Reilly, whose credits include "The Perfect Storm" and "Boogie Nights," got to do a lot of thinking about the distinction between acting and lying in his latest movie, "Criminal" (search). He plays a con man.

"He thinks the laws of civilization don't apply," Reilly says of his character Richard Gaddis, a fast-talking, small-time schemer. "So it was a lot of fun to play someone like that for 12 hours a day, and then you go take your costume off and get in your car and you have to remember, 'No, you better start following the law now.'"

In December, in Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator," he'll star with Leonardo DiCaprio, with whom he worked in "Gangs of New York" (search) and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape."

"Everyman" is a term that's often applied to Reilly, and he embraces it. "I'm from Chicago, from a very humble and working-class neighborhood," he says. "Those are my people. So if I have an everyman quality, I'm really proud of it. I am an everyman."