Q&A: Matthew Modine Discusses Steve Jobs Biopic

June 20, 2012 | by —Jessica Ferri | Homepage

 
Modine on the set of The Dark Knight Rises  

It's been 25 years since Matthew Modine burst onto the Hollywood scene in Stanley Kubrick's classic Full Metal Jacket, and he hasn't slowed down since. With more than 70 films under his belt, Modine has worked with some of the finest actors and directors of American cinema. Coming up, you'll see Modine in two hotly anticipated films, The Dark Knight Rises (opening July 20) and the new Steve Jobs biopic, Jobs, which is currently in production.

Everyone is dying to know more about Jobs, in which you play former Apple CEO John Sculley. Is the script based on Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography?
MATTHEW MODINE: It's not an adaptation of the Isaacson biography, though of course, the facts are the same. I think Aaron Sorkin may be developing a script based on that biography, but I think that film will depend on the success of this one.

What part of Jobs’ life does the film deal with?
MM: It follows him from high school graduation to the iPod. Ashton Kutcher [who plays Jobs] has his work cut out for him!

It's easy to imagine how Sculley, who ousted Steve from his own company in 1989, could be seen as a villain. How do you see him?
MM: I don't see him that way at all. Actually, I see him as a savior, really. I'll make a Star Wars reference. He's really more of a Yoda character than anything else. Luke has the force but he needs to Yoda to show him how to use it—that's similar to Steve and John. I mean, if John hadn't fired Steve, who knows, we might not even be talking about this movie right now. It was during that time, when Steve went off to form NeXT, that he really had a chance to focus and grow up a little.   

Have you met Sculley in person?
MM: I'm going to meet him this weekend! I'm very much looking forward to it. This is only the third time I've gotten to meet the real life person I'm playing and I always enjoy it.

You’ve worked with some amazing directors, including Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, and Oliver Stone. Out of your many films, which are your favorites?
MM: I really love the films of mine that no one knows about—two films I did, Orphans [1987] and Equinox [1992] were great films. I hate to single out directors because I've learned so much even from the directors I didn't particularly care for.   

Tell us about your Full Metal Jacket Diary project.
MM: Well, when I worked on Full Metal Jacket, Stanley [Kubrick] encouraged me to keep a diary. I did, and I took a lot of photos. It's the 25th anniversary of the film, so for the special Blue Ray DVD that's being released, each copy comes with a little book of my photographs and a small piece I wrote about Stanley. Recently, a young man approached me about making an app out of the book that people could download with music and other special features. So if you visit fullmetaljacketdiary.com, you can see more about the app.

We'll see you very soon in The Dark Knight Rises as deputy commissioner Foley. Can you tell us a little more about that character?
MM: I can't really tell you anything about the movie! That's one thing about Chris Nolan, he requests that we not talk about it. In the internet age, if you say anything, it just gets out there. But it's been great fun to be involved in such a huge movie and to work with this amazing cast. I knew Anne [Hathaway] from our work on the Obama campaign, but it was so nice to work with Chris and Gary [Oldman], who's an old friend of mine, and Michael Caine, and of course Christian Bale.

You call New York home. What’s your favorite place to spend time in the city?
MM: Since I was doing The Miracle Worker on Broadway I actually found myself back at Joe Allen's on 46th Street quite a bit. It's an old-school New York bistro. It's like I've come full circle from the time I used to go there when I was first studying theater. It's great if you're interested in theater history—the whole restaurant is covered in photographs—but what you might not know is that all of the photos are of shows that failed. It's not to poke fun at them; on the contrary, it's to prove that every show has the best intention of succeeding and a lot of times it doesn't work out. It just proves how difficult it is to create something beautiful, and how hard it is to be successful at what we do.

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