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Matthew Modine

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Matthew Modine
Modine in 2017
Matthew Avery Modine

(1959-03-22) March 22, 1959 (age 65)
EducationMar Vista High School
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1982–present
Caridad Rivera
(m. 1980)
Children2, including Ruby

Matthew Avery Modine (born March 22, 1959)[1] is an American actor. He rose to prominence through his role as U.S. Marine Private/Sergeant J.T. "Joker" Davis in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987). Other films include Birdy (1984), Vision Quest (1985), Married to the Mob (1988), Gross Anatomy (1989), Pacific Heights (1990), Short Cuts (1993), Cutthroat Island (1995), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Oppenheimer (2023). On television, he portrayed Dr. Don Francis in the HBO film And the Band Played On (1993), the oversexed Sullivan Groff on Weeds (2007), Ivan Turing in Proof (2015), and Dr. Martin Brenner in Netflix's Stranger Things (2016–2022).

Modine has been nominated twice for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for his work in And the Band Played On and What the Deaf Man Heard and received a special Golden Globe for him and the rest of the ensemble in Short Cuts.[2] He was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for And the Band Played On.

Early life[edit]

Modine, the youngest of seven[3] children, was born on March 22, 1959, in Loma Linda, California, the son of Dolores (née Warner), a bookkeeper, and Mark Alexander Modine, who managed drive-in theaters. He is the nephew of the stage actress Nola Modine Fairbanks, and the great-grandson of the prospector and pioneer Ralph Jacobus Fairbanks.[4][5] One of his other great-grandfathers was a Swedish immigrant.[6] Modine lived in Utah for several years, moving every year or two. The drive-in theaters his father managed were being torn down because the land beneath them exceeded the value of the theaters. The Modine family returned to Imperial Beach, California, where Matthew attended and graduated from Mar Vista High School in 1977.[7]



Modine's first film role was in John Sayles' film Baby It's You (1983). Also that year, he co-starred in the sex comedy Private School, with Phoebe Cates and Betsy Russell. His performances caught the eye of director Harold Becker, who cast him in Vision Quest (1985, filmed 1983), based on Terry Davis's novel. The director Robert Altman propelled Modine to international stardom with his film adaptation of David Rabe's play Streamers. Modine played Mel Gibson's brother in Mrs. Soffel and starred with Nicolas Cage in Alan Parker's Birdy; the film was awarded Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. The actor also famously turned down the role of LT Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun (played by Tom Cruise), because he felt the film's pro-military stance went against his politics.[8]

Modine in April 2006

Modine may be best known for his role as Private/Sergeant J.T. "Joker" Davis, the central character of Stanley Kubrick's Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket (1987). Subsequently, Modine played the dangerous young criminal Treat in Alan Pakula's film adaptation of Lyle Kessler's stageplay Orphans. Modine 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. 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 Sundance Film Festival: When I Was a Boy (co-directed with Todd Field), Smoking written by David Sedaris, and Ecce Pirate written by Modine.

His 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.[9] In 2003, he guest-starred in The West Wing episode "The Long Goodbye". He portrayed the character Marco, who went to high school with C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) and who helped her deal with her father's steady mental decline due to Alzheimer's disease. Modine agreed to take the role because he is a longtime friend of Janney. (The two appeared together 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 (2003).

In 2004, Modine appeared in Funky Monkey as 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 critically panned, yet has gained a cult status.[10] In 2005, Abel Ferrara's Mary won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. In the film, Modine portrays a director recounting the story of Mary Magdalene (Juliette Binoche). The following year, he guest-starred in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Rage" as a serial killer of young girls. 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). Also in 2010, Modine appeared in 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.

In 2011, Modine completed two independent films, Family Weekend and Girl in Progress, opposite Eva Mendes.[11] In 2012, he appeared in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises as Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley, a Gotham City police officer and peer to Gary Oldman's Commissioner James Gordon. In February 2013, Modine was cast in Ralph Bakshi's animated film Last Days of Coney Island after coming across the film's Kickstarter campaign online.[12][13] In 2014, he co-starred with Olivia Williams, Richard Dillane, and Steve Oram in the horror mystery film Altar.[14]

In 2016, Modine played Dr. Martin Brenner in the Netflix original series Stranger Things. In 2017, he and his Stranger Things castmates won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. In 2017, Matthew Modine was featured in the music video for "1-800-273-8255", a song by American hip hop artist Logic.[15] Modine was part of Speed Kills released in November 2018[16] as well as several upcoming films such as Foster Boy, Miss Virginia, and The Martini Shot.[17] In 2023 he portrayed Vannevar Bush in Christopher Nolan's biographical thriller Oppenheimer.


Modine appeared in Arthur Miller's Finishing the Picture at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, in Miller's Resurrection Blues at London's Old Vic, and in a stage adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (as Atticus Finch) at Connecticut's Hartford Stage (This production of To Kill a Mockingbird became the most successful play in the theatre's 45-year history), and in 2022/23 at London's Gielgud Theatre.[18] In 2010, he starred with Abigail Breslin in the 50th Anniversary Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker[19] at the Circle in the Square theatre.

In fall 2013, Modine starred in a self-parodying comedy, Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas at Los Angeles' Geffen Theatre.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Modine married Caridad Rivera, a makeup and wardrobe stylist, in 1980. They have two children, Boman, an assistant director for films, and actress, singer and ballet dancer Ruby Modine.[20][21][22]

Modine is the subject of the 2005 song "Matthew Modine" by Pony Up.[23][24]


Modine participating in a bike sharing event during the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Cycling has been Modine's main mode of transportation since he moved to New York City from Utah in 1980. He heads a pro-bike organization called "Bicycle for a Day" and was honored for his work on June 2, 2009, by the environmental arts and education center on the East River, Solar 1.[8]

In 2019, Modine ran unsuccessfully for SAG-AFTRA national presidential election, challenging incumbent Gabrielle Carteris. Modine's campaign manager and a number of other union members filed protests after the result, alleging election violations.[25] The complaints were unsuccessful, and the investigation found no reason to set aside Cateris's election. Modine ran again in 2021 and was defeated by Fran Drescher by a margin of 52.5% to 47.5%.[26][27]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Baby It's You Steve
Private School Jim Green
Streamers Billy
1984 The Hotel New Hampshire Chip Dove / Ernst
Birdy 'Birdy'
Mrs. Soffel Jack Biddle
1985 Vision Quest Louden Swain
1987 Full Metal Jacket Private/Sergeant J.T. "Joker" Davis
Orphans Treat
1988 Married to the Mob FBI Agent Mike Downey
The Gamble Francesco Sacredo
1989 Gross Anatomy Joe Slovak
1990 Memphis Belle Captain Dennis Dearborn
Pacific Heights Drake Goodman
1992 Equinox Henry Petosa / Freddy 'Ace'
Wind Will Parker
1993 When I Was a Boy None Short film
Co-writer, co-director and co-producer
The Tree Boy as Middle-Aged Man / Boy as Old Man Short film
Short Cuts Dr. Ralph Wyman
1994 The Browning Version Frank Hunter
Smoking None Short film
Director and producer
1995 Bye Bye Love Dave Goldman
Fluke Thomas P. Johnson / Voice of Fluke
Cutthroat Island William Shaw
1997 Ecce Pirate None Short film
Writer, director and producer
The Blackout Matty
The Maker Walter Schmeiss
The Real Blonde Joe
1999 Notting Hill Movie-Within-Movie Actor Uncredited
If... Dog... Rabbit... Johnnie Cooper Also writer and director
Any Given Sunday Dr. Ollie Powers
2000 Very Mean Men Bartender
Bamboozled Himself
2001 Nobody's Baby 'Sonny'
In the Shadows Eric O'Byrne
The Shipment Mitch Garrett
2003 Overnight Himself
Le Divorce Tellman
Hollywood North Bobby Myers
2004 Funky Monkey Alec McCall
2005 Transporter 2 Senator Jeff Billings
Mary Tony Childress / Jesus
Opa! Eric
2006 Kettle of Fish Mel Also executive producer
2007 Go Go Tales Johnie Ruby
Have Dreams, Will Travel Ben's Father
The Neighbor Jeff
2008 I Think I Thought Joe Short film
Also writer, director and producer
To Kill an American None Writer, director and producer
Cowboy Cowboy Short film
Also writer and director
Mia and the Migoo Mr. Houston / Godfrey Voice, English dub
The Garden of Eden David's Father
Santa, the Fascist Years Narrator Short film
2009 Little Fish, Strange Pond Mr. Jack Also executive producer
2010 The Trial Mac Also producer
A Cat in Paris Lucas Voice, English dub
2011 Jesus Was a Commie John Doe Short film[28]
Also writer, director and producer
Sunchasers None Producer
Wrinkles Juan Voice, English dub
The Flying House 'Bertie' Short film
Also executive producer
2012 Somebody None Short film
Writer, director and producer
Plastic Jesus
Girl in Progress Dr. Harford
The Dark Knight Rises Peter Foley
2013 Jobs John Sculley
Family Weekend Duncan Dungy
Cheatin' None Executive producer
2014 Hyperion Short film
Associate producer
Altar Alec Hamilton
Guests Theodore Foster Short film
2015 The Brainwashing of My Dad Narrator Documentary film
Also producer
The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards Theodore Foster
Last Days of Coney Island None Short film
Executive producer
Merry Xmas Abe Also writer and producer
Unity Narrator
2016 The Confirmation Kyle
Alex & Co: How to Grow Up Despite Your Parents Bob Riley
Revengeance Sid Uncredited
Also executive producer
Super Sex None Short film
Writer, director and producer
Army of One Dr. Ross
Stars in Shorts: No Ordinary Love Abe Also co-writer, co-director and co-producer
2017 The Hippopotamus Michael Logan
47 Meters Down Captain Taylor
2018 Sicario: Day of the Soldado James Riley
Speed Kills George H. W. Bush
An Actor Prepares Charlie
Backtrace MacDonald
2019 Keepers of the Wild None Short documentary film
Executive producer
Foster Boy Michael Trainer
Miss Virginia Congressman Cliff Williams
2020 Guardians of Life Senior Physician[29] Short film
Chance Mike
2021 The Martini Shot Steve
Breaking News in Yuba County Carl Buttons
Wrong Turn Scott Shaw
Operation Varsity Blues:
The College Admissions Scandal
Rick Singer
2022 My Love Affair with Marriage Bo Voice; also executive producer
2023 Oppenheimer Vannevar Bush
Retribution Anders Muller
Hard Miles Greg Townsend


Year Title Role Notes
1982 ABC Afterschool Special Randy Episode: "Amy & the Angel"
1988 American Playhouse Eugene O'Neill Episode: "Journey Into Genius"
Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Matthew Modine/Edie Brickell & New Bohemians"
1993 And the Band Played On Dr. Don Francis Television film
1994 Jacob Jacob
1995–1998 The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes Voice
78 episodes
1997 What the Deaf Man Heard Sammy Ayers Television film
1998 American Experience Lawrence Svobida Episode: "Surviving the Dust Bowl"
The American Christopher Newman Television film
2000 Flowers for Algernon Charlie Gordon
2001 Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story Jack Robinson 2 episodes
2002 Redeemer Paul Freeman Television film
2003 The West Wing Marco Arlens Episode: "The Long Goodbye"
Hitler: The Rise of Evil Fritz Gerlich 2 episodes
Expert Witness Television film
2004 The Winning Season Honus Wagner
2005 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Gordon Rickett Episode: "Rage"
Into the West Samson Wheeler Episode: "Dreams and Schemes"
2006 The Bedford Diaries Professor Jake Macklin 8 episodes
2007 Weeds Sullivan Groff 12 episodes
Good Morning Agrestic Short television series

Episode: "Majestic: Gates of Hell"

2008 Sex and Lies in Sin City Ted Binion Television film
2011 Too Big to Fail John Thain
2013 CAT. 8 Dr. Michael Ranger 2 episodes
Anatomy of Violence Convict #3 Television film
2015 Proof Ivan Turing 10 episodes
2016–2017, 2022 Stranger Things Dr. Martin Brenner 21 episodes
2017 Idiotsitter Dr. J. Lowe 3 episodes
2019 Sanctuary Dr. Fisher 8 episodes
Surveillance The Man in the Red Tie Television film

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist Notes Ref.
1985 "Crazy for You" Madonna From the film Vision Quest
2017 "1-800-273-8255" Logic [30]
2020 "What a Man Gotta Do" Jonas Brothers [31]


Year Play Role Venue Ref.
2004 Finishing the Picture Paul Goodman Theatre, Chicago [32]
2006 Resurrection Blues Skip The Old Vic, London [33]
2009 To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch Hartford Stage, Hartford [34]
2010 The Miracle Worker Captain Keller Broadway, New York [19]
2013 Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas Himself Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles [35]
2022 To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch Gielgud Theatre, London [36]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result
1983 Venice Film Festival Best Actor Streamers Won
1993 Special Volpi Cup for Best Ensemble Cast Short Cuts Recipient
1994 Golden Globe Awards Special Award for Ensemble Cast (non-competitive) Recipient
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television And the Band Played On Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best Male Lead Equinox Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie And the Band Played On Nominated
1997 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television What the Deaf Man Heard Nominated
2000 Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Flowers for Algernon Nominated
2008 Tribeca Film Festival Best Narrative Short I Think I Thought Nominated
2011 Traverse City Film Festival Founders Prize for Best Short Film Jesus Was a Commie Won
Oldenburg International Film Festival Best Short Film Nominated
Walk of Fame Won
2012 New Media Film Festival Best Short Jesus Was a Commie Nominated
2016 Tribeca Film Festival Best Narrative Short Film Super Sex Nominated
New Media Film Festival Best Short Won
2017 Coronado Island Film Festival Audience Favorite Award – Favourite Short Film Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Stranger Things Won
Dublin International Film Festival Special Mention for International Short Super Sex Won
2023 Heartland International Film Festival Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award, Pioneering Spirit Award Hard Miles Won


  1. ^ "Matthew Modine - Actor - Biography.com". Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  2. ^ "Golden Globes 1994 "Shortcuts" Special Award". Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  3. ^ The Hollywood Interview.com (October 31, 2009). "The Hollywood Interview (2009)". Thehollywoodinterview.blogspot.com. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  4. ^ "Matthew Modine Biography (1959–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  5. ^ "Matthew Modine Biography – Yahoo! Movies". Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  6. ^ "6 Things You Didn't Know About Stranger Things' Matthew Modine". tvovermind.com. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  7. ^ "Dark Knight Rises Features Former IB Actor Matthew Modine". patch.com/california/imperialbeach (Imperial Beach Patch). May 31, 2013. Retrieved July 25, 2017.[failed verification]
  8. ^ a b c Murphy, Tim (June 15–22, 2009). "154 Minutes With Matthew Modine". New York.
  9. ^ Jeff Labrecque (June 3, 2013). "Matthew Modine on his short-films collection and how making 'Cutthroat Island' felt like being kidnapped". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  10. ^ "An Essay on the Brilliance of "Funky Monkey" |". Indiebum.wordpress.com. May 18, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  11. ^ Gingold, Michael (February 19, 2015). "Q&A: Matthew Modine Talks His First Horror Experience in "ALTAR"". Fangoria.
  12. ^ Yamato, Jen (February 16, 2013). "Matthew Modine Joins Ralph Bakshi's Crowdsourced 'Last Days Of Coney Island'". Deadline Hollywood.
  13. ^ Labrecque, Jeff (February 28, 2013). "Ralph Bakshi's Kickstarter movie needs your help". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  14. ^ Gingold, Michael (February 19, 2015). "ALTAR". Fangoria.
  15. ^ "Video: Logic feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid – '1-800-273-8255'". Rap-Up. August 17, 2017. Archived from the original on August 18, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  16. ^ Harvey, Dennis (November 17, 2018). "Film Review: 'Speed Kills'". Variety. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (November 9, 2018). "Matthew Modine To Co-Star In CBS' NSA Spy Drama Pilot 'Surveillance'". Deadline. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Rizzo, Frank (January 11, 2009). "Modine flies to 'Mockingbird'". Variety. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  19. ^ a b The Miracle Worker on Broadway Official Web Site
  20. ^ Murphy, Desiree (October 12, 2017). "'Shameless' Star Ruby Modine Explains Why She's Proud of Her Puerto Rican Roots, Teases Season 8 (Exclusive)". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  21. ^ Pena, Xochitl (June 19, 2017). "Matthew Modine talks 'Super Sex' and his daughter playing a prostitute". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  22. ^ "Ruby Wylder Rivera Modine". www.rubywyldermodine.com.
  23. ^ Grose, Jessica (April 12, 2005). "Songs About Going Down on Celebrities Not So Simple". the Village Voice. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  24. ^ Macia, Peter (March 21, 2005). "Pony Up!". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  25. ^ Robb, David (October 23, 2019). "Matthew Modine's Campaign Manager Files SAG-AFTRA Election Complaint With U.S. Labor Department – Update". Deadline.
  26. ^ "SAG-AFTRA Members Elect Fran Drescher President of Union and Joely Fisher as Secretary-Treasurer". www.sagaftra.org. September 2, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  27. ^ Maddaus, Gene (September 2, 2021). "Fran Drescher Elected President of SAG-AFTRA, Rival Joely Fisher Wins Secretary-Treasurer". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  28. ^ "Jesus Was A Commie". Official Site.
  29. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (February 6, 2020). "Guardians of Life review – Joaquin Phoenix's climate call goes down in flames". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  30. ^ "Inside Logic's Grammy-nominated suicide prevention video, with Don Cheadle, Matthew Modine and a mission". Los Angeles Times. January 26, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  31. ^ Singh, Olivia. "The Jonas Brothers' 'What a Man Gotta Do' music video is packed with hidden references. Here's every detail you may have missed". Insider. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  32. ^ "Finishing the Picture". Goodman Theatre. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  33. ^ Nathan, John (January 3, 2006). "Modine Joins Cast of London's Resurrection Blues". Playbill. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  34. ^ BWW News Desk. "Matthew Modine Stars as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird at Hartford Stage". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  35. ^ Verini, Bob (September 17, 2009). "Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas". Variety. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  36. ^ London Theatre (October 10, 2022). "Matthew Modine to play Atticus Finch in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'". londontheatre.co.uk. Retrieved November 18, 2022.

External links[edit]