The youngest of seven children, Matthew Avery Modine was born in Loma Linda, California and grew up in Utah. His father managed drive-in movie theaters. After graduating high school in Imperial Beach, California, Modine moved to New York City (1979). While still a student at Stella Adler's Conservatory of Acting, Matthew began landing roles in film, and later theatre and television. Matthew has worked with many of the most highly regarded directors in the film industry, including, Oliver Stone, Sir Alan Parker, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Alan J. Pakula, John Schlesinger, Tony Richardson, Robert Falls, Sir Peter Hall, Abel Ferrara, Spike Lee, Tom DiCillo, Mike Figgis, Jonathan Demme and John Sayles. A partial list of his films include Birdy (1984), Vision Quest (1985), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Married to the Mob (1988), Gross Anatomy (1989), Memphis Belle (1990), Pacific Heights (1990), Short Cuts (1993), The Browning Version (1994) and Any Given Sunday (1999).
Matthew is the recipient of a Golden Globe Award, Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup and Golden Lion. Mary (2005/I), directed by Abel Ferrara, co-starring Juliette Binoche and Forest Whitaker, won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Birdy won the Cannes Film Festival Gran Prix. Equinox (1992), directed by Alan Rudolph, received four Independent Spirit Award nominations including Best Actor and Best Film. For his work in television, Matthew was part of the Emmy winning Showtime series "Weeds" (2005). He has received Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations for the M.O.W. What the Deaf Man Heard (1997) (TV) and HBO's Emmy winning And the Band Played On (1993) (TV). Modine has directed several distinguished short films: When I Was a Boy (1993), Smoking (1995), Ecce Pirate (1997), I Think I Thought (2008) and To Kill an American (2008).
|Caridad Rivera||(31 October 1980 - present) 2 children|
Towering height and slender frame
Good friends with Eric Stoltz.
Has a son Boman Mark Rivera Modine (b. 8 November 1985) and a daughter Ruby Wylder Rivera Modine (b. 31 July 1990).
Loves the New York Knicks.
Does not own a television set.
Is a neighbor of Liam Neeson.
Learning to fly-fish; his teacher is Liam Neeson.
Is a horticulturist and a carpenter.
Loves to paint.
Studied acting with Stella Adler.
The Montreal-based band "Pony up!" wrote a song about him called "Matthew Modine" because one of the girls used to have a huge crush on him. You can find the song on the band first LP called "Pony up!".
Brother of Mark Modine.
On a radio interview with Jonathan Ross in late February 2006, he said he was only baptised a Mormon, but the family wasn't very orthodox or 'tight-knit', and only practiced seriously during his very early years.
Attended Brigham Young University.
Nephew of former Broadway star Nola Modine Fairbanks.
Was member of the dramatic jury at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994.
Founder of Bicycle For A Day (BFAD) A global initiative bringing together people who choose to ride a bicycle rather than use gas-powered motor vehicles, immediately reducing their carbon footprint.
Vision Quest was maybe the hardest film I've ever done, because I never wrestled before in my life. I was a struggling actor that wasn't really fast. I was in drama school smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and trying to like every young actor at a drama school, trying to be James Dean and be posing. So when I met Harold Becker, he said, "Can you do five push-ups?" I was pretty skinny, so I had to get in shape to do Vision Quest, and that was really, really, really hard and a real pleasure to work with that girl Linda Fiorentino. She's a tough New Jersey broad, very much like her role in the film. It was just fun and a very, very, very hard film to make.
Birdy was the movie that every actor of my generation wanted. The interesting thing about Birdy is that I auditioned for the role of Al Columbato [the part eventually played by Nicolas Cage.] I didn't audition for Birdy. I imagined somebody very, very different playing Birdy. I was up in Toronto working with Mel [Gibson]. We were living together, we were sharing a house together, and Alan Parker called and said, "Congratulations, I want you to be in my film." I was like, "Are you going to change the name of Columbato, or am I going to play an Italian-American?" And he goes, "You're not playing Al. You're playing Birdy." I was like, "What?" I had to get my head around playing Birdy. I never read one line for Birdy, and he cast me as Birdy. Later that day, it was really weird. We were at Mel's house, and it was kind of a weird snowy day, and this big red robin came into the house and crashed into the glass. It was like a scene out of Birdy. I picked up the robin and kind of held it for a minute. It was clearly dead. I held the bird for a little while and stroked it, and in fact, it wasn't dead, and it hopped up on my finger and just sat there. I have a great photo of Mel and I standing there that my wife took. He's laughing and going, "This is a sign! This is a sign! You were meant to play Birdy. Look at this, man." So a wonderful omen. One of my favorite films I've worked on was Birdy.
The Hotel New Hampshire was the first time I played a real scumbag. I was working in Toronto with Mel Gibson and Diane Keaton on a movie called Mrs. Soffel, and I went to see the movie open up there in a theater in Toronto. And I remember the people sitting behind not recognizing me and going, "I hate that guy. What a prick." And I thought "I'm never going to play another bad guy again, because people don't like you." The Hotel New Hampshire was fun because it was Tony Richardson, who had directed Tom Jones, and he in his own way is a legendary filmmaker. I was working with Nastassja Kinski and Jodie Foster, so that was real pleasurable.
(On Streamers) That was a tremendous opportunity to meet a legend, Robert Altman. Just the whole rehearsal process, the casting process, and then going down to Texas to work in his brand-new studio that had been built in Las Colinas. It was a really, really, intense experience. It was a bunch of guys who didn't have their girlfriends or their wives and who all went down, and it was a very drunken... You know... working with Robert Altman. It was a great experience. It was a lot of drinking that went on down in Texas. There was a lot of partying that went on down in Texas. Then we won the prize at the Venice Film Festival. It was an unprecedented award that gave the Best Actor award to the cast. It was an ensemble.
(On Baby It's You) This was a great opportunity to work with one of America's really interesting independent film directors, John Sayles, who had given so many young actors an opportunity to work when they were struggling to get their foot in the door. Robert Downey Jr., Fisher Stevens, Meg Ryan, Rosanna Arquette, they sort of had the leads. There were all these other people where this was their first film. Their entrée into the world of film. Vincent Spano and Rosanna Arquette and Tracy Pollan, Michael J. Fox's wife. It was just really fun to be working with people that you met in the acting community of New York, everyone that you would meet on auditions. All of a sudden, all of us had jobs on a film.
(On making Gross Anatomy) That was fun. I got to learn all about life and death. The story was about a student going to medical school, and for me, it was about learning about the fragility of life. Life really is very brief. When I was studying to prepare for the film, I went to a gross anatomy lab-a real one. It was at the University Of Southern California, and it was a room filled with 40 cadavers-people who donated their bodies to science for the benefit of these medical students to learn about the human body, the human anatomy. What you realize when you walk into a room of 40 people who are dead is that there's got to be something else. I'm not talking about God. I'm talking about energy, just pure, simple, the energy of life. We can't go from being animate objects to inanimate objects without something kind of... that energy just has to go someplace. It's got to do something. Who knows what it is? Maybe that's the great big collective consciousness. Maybe we go back into that kind of pool of energy. But that was the really valuable thing. You know, it's not talking about actors or what the experience was of working on movies, but if you are to ask me about it today, that's what I learned. I learned a lot about life and death on that movie.
(On making Married to the Mob) Married To The Mob, uh. I was still kind of... Emotionally, that's when I started to realize that the experience of working on Full Metal Jacket had taken a rather painful toll on me that I really hadn't recovered from yet. While I was working on the film, I appreciated the opportunity to work with Jonathan Demme, one of the great American directors, and Michelle Pfeiffer, who is a great actor, but also an extraordinary beauty. I just wasn't ready. I didn't realize how emotionally upset I was still from having that experience of working on Full Metal Jacket. I don't think it shows in my performance, but it certainly... I understood what it meant to be in the grip of depression. The people that really truly suffer from depression, it's not something that you can go, like, "Hey! Snap out of it, man. Have a good time." When you are in the grips of depression, there isn't anything. You're inconsolable. There isn't anything anyone can do to help you. It's really, really scary. A scary place to be. I was really suffering with depression when I was working on that film, but it was great to be working on something that was so light and good-natured. Because contrasts are always good, like a yin and a yang thing. That was where I was emotionally in my life, so it was interesting to be working on something that was the opposite. You know, in many ways, it saved my life.
(2008 quote) Orphans was right after Full Metal Jacket, and it was so cleansing. It was the Nestea Iced Tea after Full Metal Jacket. It was really tight; it was, I think, 25 or 30 days of shooting. It was a play, so it was a movie about language. It was wonderful working with Albert Finney and Kevin Anderson and Alan J. Pakula, who had directed Klute and All The President's Men and Sophie's Choice. It was just maybe my favorite movie that I've ever worked on.
(On filming Full Metal Jacket) It was hard. Stanley Kubrick was, in every sense of the word, an artist. He knew everything there was to know about film production, about cameras, editing, music. He was just extraordinary, his depth of knowledge. He'd clearly read books about acting, but I think he didn't trust emotions. One of the movies he always wanted to make was a film about Napoleon. Emotions were the downfall for Napoleon, in that he was such a strategic, amazing general in the way that his mind functioned, but the frailty of human beings is emotions, and what do actors work with but emotions? Drudging up memories of happiness and sadness. That was the complicated thing about working with Kubrick, was to be a technical actor and a well-oiled machine, and knowing all the aspects of what your character would be doing or what your lines are, but then there was emotion... human emotion. That was always a frustrating thing about working on a film, just the emotional aspect of the film...In every sense, I'm a better person emotionally, mentally. I'm just a better person having gone through that experience of working with Stanley Kubrick.
Val Kilmer might be responsible for how I got the part in Full Metal Jacket, because I didn't know anything about it. You had to audition. You had to send a videotape to Stanley Kubrick to audition for the film. That was back when people didn't have cameras and stuff like that. That was a brand-new technology. Clearly Val had auditioned for the film and sent his tape, and he was pissed-off at me and wanted to get into a fight with me, because not only had I done Vision Quest and Mrs. Soffel, which were two films he had maybe auditioned for, but now I was doing Kubrick's film, and he was pissed off and wanted to get into a fight. I told him I wasn't going to apologize, and if he wanted to take it outside, I was happy to do that, and I was in shape from Vision Quest. I would have kicked his ass. So I ran out of the restaurant that we were at in Los Angeles and called my manager and asked if he knew anything about my getting the role in Full Metal Jacket, and he didn't know anything about it. Alan Parker was editing Birdy in London and Vision Quest was a Warner Bros. picture and Stanley Kubrick made his pictures with Warner Bros., so I said "Let's call Warner Bros and get them to send Vision Quest, get Alan Parker to send some footage over to Kubrick in London," and I got the part. So had Val Kilmer not sort of gotten pissed-off and challenged me in a restaurant and been angry at me for getting Full Metal Jacket, I would have never known about it.
Short Cuts was... That was a very difficult film, because Robert Altman was juggling a lot of balls, a lot of characters, and a lot of things going on. You were a part of a great big puzzle, but the wonderful thing was that you were invited to be a part of that puzzle. The wonderful thing is, if you ask anyone that worked on that film, they would probably say that they were honored to have been invited to that party. That was a good party. Bob's movies were always parties.
(On Cutthroat Island) I was given a script that was so amazing about a guy and girl that Michael Douglas was going to do. Then Michael Douglas dropped out, and I think there was a tremendous amount of pre-production money that had been spent and everything, and they needed to replace him really quickly. My father was sick, so I said "I can't do this movie." I had to take care of my dad. And they said, "Oh, no. Everything will be fine. We'll help you and get this done and that done." I went to Paris, met Geena Davis and Renny Harlin. I flew back the next day, and I was playing the part, and then I came home. My dad stabilized. He was fine. And then I went off to the island of Malta to make the film, and was given a script. It was unrecognizable from the script that I had said "yes" to. It went from a movie about a guy and a girl to a movie about a girl and a guy. He was just kind of on the boat. I had the part that would have been normally allotted to the female, the heroine. She had like a dude's part. They might as well have put on a strap-on on Geena's character. I mean, I had a blast (making it)once I realized what I was in-you have to make the best of the situation. So I had a great time with Geena Davis, and she's a really good actor. So we had a good time working together. The outcome of the film, that's never in an actor's hands. That's in the hands of the director. I know that we gave them the pieces that were necessary to have cut a bit of something together. You know, the way a film gets cut together, that's the way the cookie crumbles. There's a really good movie there.
Mary, I think it's an amazing, gorgeous movie. Talking about somebody who's really searching and digging through their emotional life. I think Mary is one of [Ferrara's] best films. I just love it. We won a prize at the Venice Film Festival. The Pope gave it a blessing like, "This is a really great film about someone questioning their faith." There was a problem with clearance of title, who wrote the script and who didn't write the script. Somebody saying they wrote that script... There isn't one line I spoke in the film that I didn't write, and the things that I didn't write were written by a bunch of old Jewish guys that wrote the Bible. So you wanna take credit for that? Go ahead. But yeah, that was a problem.
Go Go Tales, that's the least interesting of the three films I made with Abel. He was trying to do something with comedy. Everything needs to have structure. You have to have needs and desire and everything set up. Go Go Tales is just crazy. It's a crazy movie. Some people really love Go Go Tales. I prefer Mary.
(On his role in Bamboozled) Alec Baldwin was supposed to be doing that part. So Alec didn't show up to do the part, and Spike (Lee) called me up and said, "Would you run down here and help me out?" And it happened. I like Spike. I think Spike's an important filmmaker.
I studied with Stella Adler. One of the first things that she said was, "If you're going to stand on a stage, be projected on a motion picture screen, or go into people's homes on their television, then you have a responsibility - not just to entertain. They're going to be inspired and touched by the things that you do and the things that you say, and there's a responsibility that comes with that," and that's not one that I take lightly.
(On working with Robert Altman three times) The thing about working with Bob was, it wasn't just those times working with him on the set, unless you're a schmuck, you become a part of his family. You'll meet with him, have dinner with him, and you became a part of his life. Oftentimes you work with people on a film and then once you've wrapped, you never see them again. Altman chose people that he enjoyed spending time with, and fortunately I was one of those people that became a part of his extended family.
(2009 quote) I've been lucky enough to reach that point in my life, at 50, where there are so many tremendous roles that open up. When you're young you get by on charm and looks, and when you're middle aged there are some amazing opportunities that you have. I just hope all this work I've done over the last 30 years has prepared me for it.
(On why he turned down Top Gun) As a kid, I was always taught the Russians were the bad guys, the Chinese would destroy the world... Then early in my career I was at the Berlin film festival and a guy took me to East Berlin. I saw a monument to Russian soldiers who died fighting Germany. The fact Russia was our ally in World War II was not part of my basic education. I met Russian soldiers and they were no different to my brothers who'd served in Vietnam. We shared cigarettes, they gave me pins from their uniforms. When I got home, the Top Gun script was waiting for me and I knew I just couldn't perpetuate the lie.
(1990, on working with director Alan Parker on Birdy) Alan is a very frustrated, very angry artist when he's working. When he's not working he's very sweet and very kind, but once you start filming, its a war. He becomes this little general who knows he doesn't have much time to get the very best from every element of his crew-which I consider an actor to be part of. Everyone bears the brunt of his anger. My feeling is that Alan has to do that in order to be who he is and make the films he does. I mean, Vincent Van Gogh was a mad fool running around chopping his ear off, drinking turpentine, and eating paint, but he produced something that was incredible. I didn't put up with him, I just laughed at him. Don't get me wrong. I don't want a director who's going to say do whatever you want. I want somebody who is going to force me out, because that's when it gets scary and interesting. Maybe that was what Alan was doing with all his ranting and raving.
(1990, on filming Pacific Heights) Filmmaking is never easy. It sounds so trivial to say, 'Oh, it was such a wonderful production. We all got along so well.' It sounds like bullshit. And it is. It wasn't an easy shoot. John (Schlesinger) was very sick during the first weeks of production, which put us under tremendous budget and time constraints. He had to play catch-up. And filmmaking has changed. There used to be a comradery in people working together. John is probably the oldest filmmaker I've ever worked with, and he regrets that the industry has changed and become a business, that the production company insists that he deliver the film in a certain number of weeks, and that the film be under a certain number of minutes.
(1990, on Baby, It's You) Margery Simkin, who was the casting director, was like the director of that movie for me. I read for her. She said, 'That was good. Now could you try it this way?' And it was the first time a casting director ever asked me for adjustments. Then she told me she wanted me to meet Sayles and the producers, Amy Robinson and Griffin Dunne, and they said, 'Great, we're going to use you.' It's still one of my favorites, maybe because it was the first time I'd ever worked on a film, and I must have used every note from every acting class I'd ever had. I was so precise and so specific. I did not make one gesture or movement that did not have a purpose.
[on Alan Parker] I love Alan Parker because he's like an inventor -- they're ready to close the patent office and he comes along with something new and they have to open it again.
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