DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE is a quintessential thriller. Susan (Teri Polo) has married wealthy industrialist Rick Barnes (Vince Vaughn). Her son Danny (Matt O’Leary) feels loyalty to his father Frank Morrison (John Travolta) and does not care much for his mother's new husband. After finding out a new baby is on the way, Danny sneaks into Rick’s car, hoping to catch a ride to Frank's house. While hiding in the back seat, Danny witnesses Rick murdering a mysterious stranger, Ray Coleman (Steve Buscemi). Danny escapes while Rick is incinerating the body. Problem is, Danny has a history of lying and no one will believe him, especially the police. Deep down Frank believes him and starts investigating on his own, discovering Rick’s shady past. Now the father Danny trusts must protect him from the stepfather he fears. Rumor has it, there is another, original ending to DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE. It reacted poorly to an early test audience, therefor it was rewritten. This explains why Matt looks older and his voice had deepened near the end of the film.
Matt plays Danny, a twelve year old with a history of getting into trouble. In Danny’s first scene, we find him waiting at a police station, having been picked up for trying to hitch a ride in someone’s car. We see in scenes leading up to the murder that Danny and Frank have an extremely close relationship and it is no wonder why Danny seems defeated when Frank does not defend him at first.
When DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE filmed, Matt was looked at as one of the most exciting young actors working in the business. Terri Polo, who played Matt’s mother in the film, had nothing but great things to say about him. “As for Matt O’Leary, well he's something else. He has this incredible maturity, this amazing ability to handle anything that’s thrown at him on the set.” For Matt, it was a dream come true to get the role. “I’ve admired John since I was a little boy, and working with him is an honor. His acting ability is amazing. I love learning from him and picking up little tricks as we go along.”
2002 Young Artist Awards -- Best Performance in a Feature Film for Supporting Young Actor: Matt O’Leary
2002 Razzie Awards -- Worst Actor: John Travolta
2010 Razzie Awards -- Worst Actor of the Decade: John Travolta