It is not every day that reporters get film actors to personally deliver copies of their films for review. But Francesco Quinn, the son of Hollywood legend Anthony Quinn, didn't mind being his own messenger service to promote his latest film, The Tonto Woman, which was nominated for an Oscar in the best live-action short category.

“I'll just run it up there myself,'' said the 45-year-old actor and motorcycle enthusiast, as if a 20-mile jaunt across the San Fernando Valley was like a trip to the corner shop. Later that day, the DVD appeared tucked under my front door, branded with the initials TW.

The haunting, Sergio Leone-like western, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, focuses on a fateful encounter between a Mexican cattle rustler, played by Quinn, and a mysterious white woman, played by blue-eyed British actress Charlotte Asprey, who, in the film, is kidnapped by Indians and kept as a slave for 11 years until rescued by her husband. He then keeps her living in isolation in the Arizona desert, branded as a squaw in white society by tribal marks left on her skin — and her soul.

The suspenseful 35-minute film, shot in Spain, marks the cinematic debut of director Daniel Barber. For Quinn, the story of compassion and redemption marks a high point in a career that started 20 years ago in Oliver Stone's Platoon, the Vietnam War drama that won a 1986 best film Oscar. Among his co-stars at the time were other actors who would go on to thriving Hollywood careers, including Charlie Sheen, Forest Whitaker and Johnny Depp.

Decisive altercation

But after his debut, Quinn seemed to vanish. He had earned a reputation — undeserved, he now says — as somebody who was hard to work with. It may have had something to do with an altercation he had with actor Willem Dafoe on the sets of Platoon, a fight that Quinn says started with a profanity-laced argument over the use of a monkey in a scene and ended when he decked Dafoe.

Quinn says he was dropped by his manager and agent, and had to retreat to Italy, where he was born, to find work for the next few years. He still holds on to his wounded pride from the confrontation. But the temporary exile served to temper the excesses and expectations that come from instant success.

“It was too easy,'' says Quinn, who was 22 at the time. “I hadn't paid my dues. I felt a sense of entitlement and I was wrong ... It's a good thing my career didn't go anywhere then because maybe I wasn't ready.''

In his role as the brooding gunslinger Ruben Vega in The Tonto Woman, Quinn looks remarkably like his father, with his broad forehead, long face and prominent nose. But the film also shows that he inherited some of his father's talent, without the old-fashioned inclination to overact.

Anthony Quinn still casts a long shadow over his son, though. A life-size portrait of the late actor as Zorba the Greek hangs in his son's San Fernando Valley living room — a constant reminder that it is almost impossible to fill the old man's shoes.

“It's like living with the queen of England,'' Quinn says. “My father's larger than life! He's Mexican. He's Irish. He's a god in Greece. You walk into a room and there's nobody else in the room.''

His father was a great role model, but it was ridiculous, Quinn thought. Even as a child, it was hard to compete for attention.

“I could be winning the decathlon in high school, which I've won twice,'' he recalls, “yet, if my dad is in the audience: ‘Oh look! It's Anthony Quinn.' And I'm like: ‘Hello?''' He raises his hand as if vainly trying to call attention to himself. “‘Kid just got a gold medal. Helloooo? I'm over here.'''

Quinn says his pedigree allows him to play various ethnic roles, like his father. Francesco is the eldest of three children born to a marriage that lasted over 30 years; the elder Quinn died in 2001 at 86.

Today Quinn is raising two children, a boy and girl, with his wife of 16 years, Julie McCann.

He works regularly on television, with 80 episodes to his credit. He has played a Farsi-speaking terrorist on JAG, the recurring villain Syed Ali on 24 and is a regular character in the final season of The Shield.

He has also appeared in 24 feature films, including one in which he stars opposite his father in the 1990 production of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, playing the lead character as a young man.

He co-stars with Luke Perry in the upcoming western The Pledge to air on the Hallmark Channel, and appears with Dennis Hopper in the motorcycle gang drama Hell Ride, executive produced by Quentin Tarantino, due soon.

He also plays a guitar instructor and mentor to a troubled Vietnam vet in the upcoming Broken Promises, set in South Texas.

Quinn seems to get along well with co-workers nowadays. Asprey, his present costar, who is staying with the Quinns during her visit from England for the Oscars, says he was a pleasure to work with on The Tonto Woman.

Yet, there is still an edgy impatience to his personality. At the restaurant, he fussed in Italian with the staff over the pasta and the dessert. You can see why taking long daily rides on his motorcycle would be good for him.