Childhood & Early Life
Matthew Avery Modine was born on 22 March 1959, in Loma Linda, California, to Dolores Modine, a bookkeeper, and Mark Alexander Modine, who managed drive-in theatres.
He is the youngest of seven children of his parents. He has four brothers, Mark Modine, Maury Modine, Michael Modine and Russell Modine as well as two sisters Elizabeth Modine and Marica Modine. He is also the nephew of stage actress Nola Modine Fairbanks and the great-grandson of the prospector and pioneer Ralph Jacobus Fairbanks.
He lived in Utah for a long time, moving within the state every year or two until the Modine family eventually returned to Imperial Beach, California where Matthew graduated from Mar Vista High School in 1977. Matthew moved to New York City after his graduation to pursue his interests in art and theatre. He graduated from Brigham Young University.
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In 1983, Matthew Modine made his debut in the John Sayles film ‘Baby It’s You’. He also starred in the sex comedy ‘Private School’ alongside Phoebe Cates and Betsy Russell in the same year. It was the director Robert Altman who propelled Modine to international stardom by casting him in his film adaption of David Rabe’s play ‘Streamers’.
In 1984, he played the character of Mel Gibson’s brother in ‘Mrs.Soffel’ and also starred with Nicolas Cage in Alan Parker’s ‘Birdy’. The movie was awarded ‘Gran Prix’ at the Cannes Film Festival.
His exceptional performance in ‘Baby It’s You’ impressed director Harold Becker who cast him in ‘Vision Quest’ in 1985. Shortly after, he played the dangerous young criminal, Treat, in Alan Pakula’s film adaption of Lyle Kessler’s stage play ‘Orphans’.
In 1988, he played the goofy, earnest FBI agent Mike Downey opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in Jonathan Demme’s screwball comedy ‘Married to the Mob’.
In 1990, he acted in the film ‘Memphis Belle’, a fictionalized account of the famous ‘B-17 Flying Fortress’.
In 1995, he appeared in the romantic action-adventure film ‘Cutthroat Island’ opposite Geena Davis.
In 1999, he made his feature directorial debut with ‘If… Dog… Rabbit…’. This was preceded by the success of three of his short films at the Sundance Film Festival, ‘When I Was a Boy’, ‘Smoking’ and ‘Ecce Pirate’.
In 2003, he guest-starred in an episode of ‘The West Wing’ in which he played ‘Marco’, a character who went to high school with Allison Janney’s character ‘C.J. Cregg’. In the same year, he also appeared as ‘Fritz Gerlich’ in the CBS miniseries ‘Hitler: The Rise of Evil’.
In October 2004, he appeared in Arthur Miller’s play ‘Finishing the Picture’ at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. He appeared as ex-football star turned spy Alec McCall in the 2004 film ‘Funky Monkey’. Although the film did not receive good reviews, it has gained a cult-status in American cinema.
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In 2005, Modine portrayed a director recounting the story of Mary Magdalene in Abel Ferrara's ‘Mary’ which won the ‘Special Jury Prize’ at the Venice Film Festival that year.
In 2006, he guest-starred as a serial killer in an episode of ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ entitled ‘Rage’.
In 2007, he appeared as a corrupt Majestic City developer named ‘Sullivan Groff’ throughout the third season of ‘Weeds’. Modine’s dark comedy ‘I Think I Thought’ debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The movie is about a ‘Thinker’ played by Modine, who ends up in ‘Thinkers Anonymous’.
He appeared in the movie ‘The Trial’ in 2010. The drama was awarded the Parents Television Council’s ‘Seal of Approval’ for its combination of the best features of courtroom drama, murder mystery, and character story.
He also played former chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch, John Thain, in HBO’s ‘Too Big to Fail’ in 2010. The film is based on the Wall Street Financial crisis that occurred in 2007–2008.
In 2010, he starred alongside Abigail Breslin in the 50th Anniversary Broadway revival of ‘The Miracle Worker’ at the 'Circle in the Square' theatre.
In 2011, he made ‘Jesus Was a Commie’, an avant-garde film highlighting prominent issues faced by modern society. The film was co-directed by Terrence Ziegler. He also completed two independent films ‘Family Weekend’ and ‘Girl in Progress’ opposite Eva Mendes in 2011.
He appeared as Deputy Commissioner, Peter Foley, in Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ in 2012.
In February 2013, he was cast in Ralph Bakshi’s animated movie ‘Last Days of Coney Island’.
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In 2014, he starred in the horror mystery film ‘Alter’ alongside Olivia Williams, Richard Dillane and Steve Oram.
In 2016, he was cast to play the role of Dr.Martin Brenner in the Netflix original series ‘Stranger Things’.
He was featured in the 2017 music video for ‘1-800-273-8255’ by hip-hop artist ‘Logic’.
In fall 2013, Modine starred in a self-parodying comedy, 'Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas' at Los Angeles' Geffen Theatre.