STYLE & SUBSTANCE
By FARRAH WEINSTEIN
January 13, 2002 -- Dean Winters is both deranged and sexy as prisoner Ryan O'Reilly on HBO's "Oz," which is now in its fifth season. And the sarcastic, smart-ass attitude that the series' viewers love to hate is also reflected in his real-life persona.
When The Post asked what research he did for the role of O'Reily, a man sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, drug dealing and rape in the fictional Oswald State Penitentiary, he said:
"It didn't take much. I went out and knocked over a deli and then torched my old boss."
Right. The Manhattan-born actor moved to Arizona at a young age and attended prep school. After majoring in English at Colorado College, Winters traveled throughout the West Coast, Hong Kong and Europe before settling in New York. For eight years, he worked as a bartender all over Manhattan with his brother, Scott Winters (who also plays his brother Cyril on the TV show), while attending acting class on the side. He got his first role - at age 30 - from one of his frequent customers at the downtown bar Nevada Smith's, producer Tom Fontana. Fontana asked him if he wanted to a role in "Homicide: Life on the Street."
That work led to more guest appearances, including roles on "NYPD Blue," "Millennium" and "New York Undercover." The 37-year-old blue-eyed hotshot has since been seen on "Sex and the City" and starred on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." You can check him out in the soon-to-be-released movies "Snipes," with rapper Nelly, and "Hellraiser 6."
Q: What can we expect from this season of "Oz"?
A: Tom Fontana really found his groove - not that it was ever lost - and this season is very tight. It concentrates more on the original prisoners that came on in the first season, so you see the toll the last five years has taken on them.
Q: When not working, what do you do to relax?
A: I tend to sleep a lot.
Q: What are some of your favorite haunts in Manhattan?
A: I like to go where the music bangs, like Exit, Vinyl and Centro Fly.
Q: What can't you live without?
A: My music.
Q: How do you stay in shape?
A: New York being the greatest walking city in the world, I tend to walk everywhere, as long as I am afforded the time.
Q: How do you take care of yourself?
A: I try not to overdo it.
Q: How do you spoil yourself?
A: I work hard, so I play harder.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: Spend as much time with friends and family as possible. And when I can, leave the city on little spur-of-the-moment adventures.
Q: Favorite food?
Q: What gives you substance?
A: New York City.
Q: Describe your personal style.
A: I'm a street chameleon.
Q: Favorite designers?
A: Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Prada and Levi Strauss.
Q: What do you wear when relaxing?
A: My Levi's jeans, Royal Elastics sneakers and a Calvin Klein T-shirt.
Q: What do you wear for a big night out?
A: Whatever my girlfriend tells me to.
Q: What would you never wear?
A: Khakis, plaid, loafers or anything else that makes me look like a cookie cutter.
Q: What do you use to accessorize?
A: What does accessorize mean?
Q: Whose style do you most admire?
A: Jimi Hendrix.
Q: What would you love to own but would never buy for yourself?
A: A purple Rolls-Royce.
Q: What traits does your ideal woman have?
A: Humor, humor, humor.
Q: If you had more free time, what would you do with it?
Q: What don't you ever leave home without?
A: My street smarts.
STYLE & SUBSTANCE