Matthew Modine

Matthew Modine
Matthew Modine

Modine at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
Born Matthew Avery Modine
March 22, 1959 (1959-03-22) (age 52)
Loma Linda, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, director, writer
Years active 1983–present
Spouse Caridad Rivera (1980-present)
Children Two

Matthew Avery Modine (born March 22, 1959) is an award-winning American actor. His film roles include Private Joker in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, the title character in Alan Parker's Birdy, high school wrestler Louden Swain in Vision Quest, football star turned spy Alec McCall in Funky Monkey and the oversexed Sullivan Groff in Weeds.


Early life

Modine, the youngest of seven[1] children, was born in Loma Linda, California, the son of Dolores (née Warner), a bookkeeper, and Mark Alexander Modine, who managed drive-in theaters.[2][3]

The first move for Modine was from his birthplace in Loma Linda to Imperial Beach, California. The family lived in Imperial Beach for two years before Mark was transferred to Salt Lake City, Utah where his father became the District Theater Manager of Sero Amusement Company. Mark was the manager of the Lyric Theater in downtown Salt Lake City. It was here that Matthew met Robert Redford during a publicity visit for the film Barefoot in the Park.

At ten years old, Matthew saw a documentary about the making of the film Oliver!. Inspired by the young actors' performances, Modine decided to become an actor. He found a dance school in Provo, Utah and began taking tap dancing lessons. He also joined the junior high school glee club when his family moved to Midvale, Utah.

At fourteen, his father was transferred back to Imperial Beach, California. Matthew began the eighth grade at Mar Vista Junior High, and his sophomore year at Mar Vista High School. He performed in a production of Our Town as George Gibbs. In his junior year, Matthew attended Southwest High School, but after the murder of a classmate, the school feared retaliation and gang violence, so his parents chose to send him back to Mar Vista High. Matthew convinced his parents to allow him to attend Marian Catholic High School, but he later graduated from Mar Vista High.

Modine moved to New York to pursue his acting career, but struggled to get a foothold there. After several months he returned to Imperial Beach, where he saw the violence and substance abuse problems plaguing the small border town taking a toll on his friends. It became apparent to Modine that remaining in the San Diego area could prove disastrous.[citation needed]

Modine moved back to New York City more determined to study acting. He began working with legendary acting teacher Stella Adler. He has maintained his residence in New York since 1980.


His first film role was in John Sayles' Baby It's You. His performance caught the eye of director Harold Becker, who cast him in Vision Quest (Crazy for You) based on the novel by Terry Davis. He appeared in the sex comedy Private School, co-starring Phoebe Cates and Betsy Russell. The director Robert Altman propelled Modine to international stardom with his film adaptation of David Rabe's play Streamers. Modine and his fellow castmates won an unprecedented Best Actor prize from the Venice Film Festival for the tragic story of young American soldiers about to be shipped to Vietnam. Modine played Mel Gibson's brother in Mrs. Soffel and starred with Nicolas Cage in Alan Parker's Birdy. The film was awarded a prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Modine photographed by Brian Smith
Modine in April 2006

Modine might be best known for his role as Private Joker, the central character of Stanley Kubrick's 1987 war movie Full Metal Jacket. Subsequently, he played the dangerous young criminal Treat in Alan Pakula's film version of the hugely successful Lyle Kessler stageplay Orphans, and played the goofy, earnest FBI agent Mike Downey in Jonathan Demme's screwball comedy Married to the Mob opposite Michelle Pfeiffer. In 1990 he led the cast of Memphis Belle, a fictionalized account of the famous B-17 Flying Fortress. Modine was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performances in And the Band Played On (an HBO TV movie about the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic) and the dark comedy What the Deaf Man Heard.

In 1995, he appeared opposite Geena Davis in the romantic action-adventure film Cutthroat Island. Modine made his feature directorial debut with If... Dog... Rabbit, which came after the success of three short films debuting at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival: When I Was a Boy (co-directed with Todd Field), Smoking written by David Sedaris, and Ecce Pirate written by Modine. The dark comedy, I Think I Thought debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film tells the story of a Thinker (Modine) who ends up in Thinkers Anonymous. Other short films include, To Kill an American, Cowboy, and The Love FIlm. in 2011, he completed Jesus Was a Commie, an avant garde-dialectical conversation about the world and the prominent issues of modern society. Modine co-directed the short film with Terence Ziegler, the editor of I Think I Thought. Modine's short films have played internationally.

In 2003, he guest starred on The West Wing in the episode "The Long Goodbye". He portrayed the character Marco, who went to high school with Cregg (Allison Janney), and who helped her deal with her father's steady mental decline due to Alzheimer's disease. Modine agreed to the role because he is a longtime friend of Janney. (The two appeared in a theatrical production of the play Breaking Up, directed by Stuart Ross). That same year, he played Fritz Gerlich in the CBS miniseries Hitler: The Rise of Evil.

In 2004, Modine appeared in Funky Monkey as a ex-football star turned spy Alec McCall who teams up with super-chimp Clemens and his friend Michael Dean (Seth Adkins) to take down the villainous Flick (Taylor Negron). The film was a critical failure yet has gained a cult status.[4]

In 2005, Abel Ferrara's Mary won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. In the film, Modine portrayed a director recounting the story of Mary Magdalene (Juliette Binoche).

In 2010, Modine appeared in The Trial, which was awarded the Parents Television Council's Seal of Approval™. The PTC said: "'The Trial' combines the best features of courtroom drama, murder mystery and character story. 'The Trial' is a powerful drama which shows the power of healing and hope."

Modine played a corrupt Majestic City developer named "Sullivan Groff" throughout Season 3 on Weeds. Groff has affairs with Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) and Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins). He also guest starred in the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Rage" as a serial killer.

In 2010, Modine worked on HBO's Too Big to Fail, a film about the Wall Street financial crisis. Modine stars as John Thain, former Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch, who famously spent millions decorating his office.

In 2011, Modine completed two independent films, Family Weekend and Ansiedad opposite Eva Mendes, and commenced work on Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.


Modine appeared in Arthur Miller's Finishing the Picture at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, and Miller's Resurrection Blues at London's Old Vic. He played Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird at Connecticut's Hartford Stage. This production became the most successful play in the theatre's 45-year history.[5] In 2010, he starred in the 50th Anniversary Broadway rival of the The Miracle Worker[6] at the Circle in the Square theatre.



Flowers for Algernon (2008)

External links

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