EXCLUSIVE: Matthew Modine On THE DARK KNIGHT RISES & FULL METAL JACKET Diary iPad App
Actor Matthew Modine (Vision Quest) talks to us about working on Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, and the launch of his Full Metal Jacket Diary iPad app, that chronicles his time on the set of Stanley Kubrick's cinematic masterpiece.
Matthew Modine was kind enough to chat with us about his role as Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley in The Dark Knight Rises, and his latest project, converting his 2005 Full Metal Jacket Diary into an iPad app. Which is a great way to celebrate the film's 25th anniversary as Matthew Modine provides a rare behind-the-scenes account of the making of the film.
During filming of The Dark Knight Rises you were seen holding a pair of pink panties. You said that they were a prop for the film and a reference to two of your previous films, Full Metal Jacket and Vision Quest. I don't recall seeing them in the film. What's the story behind them?
You don't recall seeing the "pink panties" in TDKR? That's because they were not filmed. The references are, as you said, from Vision Quest and Full Metal Jacket. "Your days of finger-banging ol' Mary Jane Rottencrotch through her pretty pink panties ARE OVER!" is the reference from FMJ. The second, VQ reference is from a scene where the character, Carla (Linda Fiorentino) catches my character, Louden Swain, with her freshly washed and dried panties in his face. How the panties ended up in my overcoat pocket on the set of TDKR is a story, a humorous one, that I cannot share. It would be telling too much!
In The Dark Knight Rises your character is killed by Talia's henchman, gunning you down, but leaked set videos and photos showed your character being rundown by her camouflage tumbler. Was your death scene a surprise when you saw the film?
Yes. But edited movies are always a surprise. I'm hoping that the reason for this edit, which by the way was an incredible stunt and powerfully shot, is that, if there is a subsequent Batman film, Foley may not actually be dead. He found something out about himself in the streets of Gotham and he could be a worthy new Police Commissioner of the city we love.
The role of Foley is extremely important as his constant opposition to John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) helps the audience connect to Blake's idealism. Is it tough playing a role that requires you to be unlikable so that another character can flourish?
Yes. It's unpleasant. Particularly because I am cast against type in this film. But it is a role, and not real life. I know, from social media, how happy people were to discover and witness Foley's RISE.
What was your favorite scene to film and why?
Wall Street. Because I was home. In my element. There were so many people from my home that had the opportunity, as I did, to play in a Batman film. The two thousand background artists playing cops and baddies had the time of their lives that day.
You've said that Nolan gives very specific directions. What did he tell you specifically that elevated your performance?
Well, a relationship between an actor and a director is probably always different with every actor the director has to work with. The director has to adjust himself and his notes to the actors abilities, sensitivities, and experience. Nolan giving me a direction, if I told you literally what he said, might not make any sense at all to a layperson. And yet, the simplest direction would speak volumes if interpreted and defined.
You've also mentioned that Nolan and Kubrick are quite similar in that they both ask their actors the "right type" of questions. What are a few examples of the "right type" of questions?
The kinds of questions asked by masters of their professions vary from actor to actor. The types of questions an actor may ask a director will vary with the abilities of that director and actor both. A director could say something as simple as, "Faster" and it would cover an entire paragraph of explanation for certain actors. Other actors may have to have their hands held and need to know why they're receiving a certain, or specific direction. My favorite direction from Stanley Kubrick was, "Look scared."
Would you ever be interested in directing a superhero film of your own?
Sure. I know I could do a wonderful job with the genre.
Sets can be dangerous places. Have you ever had any close calls?
Too many to count. Every limb has been cut and stitched up. Near fatal helicopter events, on three occasions. Explosions. Burns. Film sets are not always the safest place to work. Many hours, rushing to complete the days work. It only takes a moment for someone to make a mistake or misjudge and bang.
I love the story about how a sour Val Kilmer helped you land the lead in Full Metal Jacket. Have you ever run into him since then and thanked him?
I have run into him. But not long enough for us to have chewed the fat about the first time we met. (The full story is in the Full Metal Jacket Diary iPad app)
You recently released the Full Metal Jacket Diary app. What's the initial reception been like?
Unbelievable. It has even generated a new word, "app-umentary." The developers believe that this app will redefine and create a whole new market for films.
What was the most compelling reason for creating the iPad app?
I was asked by a friend if I would allow him to turn my limited edition book into an "app." He, Adam Rackoff, explained how he would add an original score, sound effects, high res scans of my photos, memorabilia, letters, and my dramatized narration - all rolled into a deeply immersive experience for the iPad user. I am so happy I agreed. The app is totally unique. You can learn more about the app and order limited edition prints of my photographs from www.fullmetaljacketdiary.com.
Did you have a relationship with Kubrick once the film was complete?
Yes, we maintained our friendship until he began Eyes Wide Shut. Once that began I knew he was on a journey that would lead him away from relationships and toward the world he was attempting to create as a filmmaker. I understood that because I was a witness to it while we worked together. I miss him. He was a wonderful human being.
The Dark Knight Rises is now playing at your local theater. The film stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate. Now playing at in theaters!
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