Matthew Modine

Active - 1983 - 2021  |   Born - Mar 22, 1959 in Loma Linda, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Matthew Modine probably developed his love of performing through multiple viewings of films exhibited in the many Utah drive-in theaters managed by his father. His family moved a lot, so his adaptability as an actor may have grown out of learning to adapt as a child, as well. After dropping out of college and working a variety of odd jobs, Modine moved to New York, where he studied acting with Stella Adler and eventually began appearing in TV commercials and soap operas. He made his screen debut in 1983 in the film comedy Baby It's You, and won the Venice Film Festival's Best Actor award that year for his work in Robert Altman's Streamers. Refusing to trade on his freshly scrubbed, all-American good looks, Modinemade a point of treating each film role as a challenge and a chance to grow. How many other pretty-boy Brat Packers would have been willing to play a disturbed Vietnam vet who's thinks he's a bird in 1984's Birdy? His other film roles included dual characters in The Hotel New Hampshire (1984); Private Joker in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987); love-struck FBI agent Mike Downey in Married to the Mob (1988); swashbuckler William Shaw in Cutthroat Island (1995); and the title role in the made-for-cable Biblical spectacle Jacob (1994). Modine was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as aloof AIDS researcher Don Francis in the 1993 TV movie And the Band Played On, and continued to accept occasional stage roles in between his film and TV projects. He made his screen directorial debut in 1994 with a short subject entitled Smoking. Modine woulds spend the next few decades appearing in a number of interesting projects, like Funky Monkey, Transporter 2, and The Dark Knight Rises.

Movie Highlights

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  • Grew up in Utah, the youngest of seven children in a Mormon family.
  • Decided on an acting career after seeing a documentary about the making of the 1968 Oscar winner Oliver! 
  • Dropped out of college and moved to New York at 18; worked as a chef at a Manhattan restaurant; took another employee's advice and studied acting with Stella Adler.
  • Movie debut was in Baby, It's You (1983); breakthrough role was in 1984's Birdy.
  • Turned down the Tom Cruise role in Top Gun (1986).
  • In 2004, he was cast in Arthur Miller's autobiographical play Finishing the Picture; two years later, he appeared in a London production of Arthur Miller's last play, Resurrection Blues.
  • In 2005, published Full Metal Jacket Diary, based on his experiences making the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film.
  • Made his Broadway debut in 2010's The Miracle Worker.
  • Founded the non-profit green initiative Bicycle for a Day.