Matthew Modine Biography

Actor (1959–)
Actor Matthew Modine became a star for his performances in Full Metal Jacket and other successful 1980s films.


Born on March 22, 1959, in Loma Linda, California, Matthew Modine moved to New York City as a teenager to pursue an acting career. He hit his stride in the 1980s with starring turns in such films as Birdy (1984), Vision Quest (1985) and Full Metal Jacket (1987). Modine remains busy with a variety of film, television and theater roles, and is an avid environmentalist.

Early Years

Matthew Avery Modine was born on March 22, 1959, in Loma Linda, California. His father, Mark, managed a chain of drive-in movie theaters, a business that exposed his seven children to the cinema but also forced him to uproot the family several times. Modine was inspired to become an actor after watching a documentary about the making of Oliver, as he enjoyed the musical aspect but also empathized with the outsider orphan at the story's center. After high school, Modine moved to New York City, where he worked as a chef and studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

Show Biz

Matthew Modine made his feature film debut in John Sayles' Baby it's You (1983), soon becoming one of Hollywood's hottest young actors with his contributions to three Vietnam War-era films. The first was Robert Altman's Streamers (1983), in which he played a soldier preparing for decampment to battle, followed by a starring turn as the mentally unstable titular character of Alan Parker's Birdy (1984). In perhaps the most recognizable role of his career, he narrated the horrors of war as the independent-minded Private Joker in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987). During this period, Modine also starred as a high school wrestler in Vision Quest (1985), and as an FBI agent in Married to the Mob (1988).

Modine found his big-screen success harder to replicate in the 1990s, as his leading roles in features such as Memphis Belle (1990), Wind (1992) and the roundly panned Cutthroat Island (1995) failed to make an impact with audiences. However, he thrived in more eclectic roles that seemed better suited to his earnest on-screen persona. Re-teaming with Altman, Modine played Dr. Ralph Wyman opposite Julianne Moore in Short Cuts (1993), which won a Golden Globe for best ensemble performance. He earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of Dr. Don Francis in the HBO movie And the Band Played On (1993), and received another Golden Globe nomination for his role as Sammy Ayers in the Hallmark movie What the Deaf Man Heard (1997).

Modine made his feature directorial debut with the crime drama If ... Dog ... Rabbit (1999), and earned recurring parts in the television series The Bedford Diaries and Weeds in subsequent years. He also became more active on the stage, portraying legendary playwright Arthur Miller in Finishing the Picture during the Goodman Theater's 2004-05 season, and tackling the iconic role of Atticus Finch in a Hartford Stage production of To Kill a Mockingbird in 2009. He made his Broadway debut in the revival of The Miracle Worker in 2010, and with his supporting roles in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and the Sundance darling Jobs (2013), the veteran actor seemingly had struck a balance between parts in high-visibility blockbusters and critically acclaimed fare.

Personal Life

Modine met actress Caridad Rivera during his early years in New York City. They married in 1980 and have two children.

An avid environmentalist, Modine has promoted the use of double-sided scripts to save paper, and created the Bicycle For a Day campaign to help scale back carbon emissions. He also is a supporter of The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, after losing his father and a brother to the disease.

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