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Matthew Modine Isn’t Sure if ‘Stranger Things’ Is Done With Him

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This interview includes spoilers for your complete fourth season of “Stranger Things.”

The ultimate episodes of the most recent season of “Stranger Things,” which debuted Friday on Netflix, included several tragic send-offs. One of the powerful was the goodbye between Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven and her “Papa,” the white-haired mad scientist Dr. Martin Brenner, played by the Hollywood veteran Matthew Modine.

Brenner, who helped Eleven hone her telekinetic powers on the infamous Hawkins National Laboratory, was the show’s major (human) villain until he was mauled by a Demogorgon at the top of Season 1. But he made a surprise return this season, and Modine brought his unique sense of mental menace to flashbacks that filled within the origin stories for Eleven and the villainous Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), in addition to to a subplot during which he forced Eleven to relearn her very special set of skills.

Brenner again met what seemed to be a violent end, being shot multiple times by a sniper from a helicopter within the season’s penultimate episode. But is he gone for good?

Not even Modine is bound, he said in a recent phone interview, but he would love to come back back by some means. In the course of the conversation, the star of acclaimed movies like “Full Metal Jacket,” “Birdy,” “Married to the Mob” and the groundbreaking HBO docudrama “And the Band Played On,” discussed how “Stranger Things” has modified his life and why he hopes Brenner’s story isn’t over. These are edited excerpts from the interview.

As you’ve gotten already experienced once yourself, characters who appear to die on “Stranger Things” often don’t. Is Dr. Brenner going to come back back in Season 5, which is slated to be the show’s final one?

I definitely don’t know. I’d like to have the chance to come back back. To my knowledge, the Duffer brothers haven’t even begun writing Season 5, let alone filming it.

Do you’re thinking that Dr. Brenner is a villain?

Well, that’s an interesting query. Ambition is such an advanced thing. The query that I feel you’re asking is: “Is Brenner able to empathy and compassion? Did he love the numbers? Did he love Eleven?” There’s absolute confidence that I, as a performer, desired to imbue the character with that love and compassion for them. He wasn’t just exploiting them. He absolutely loved them.

Eleven excelled at what Brenner was attempting to discover: this ability to have telekinetic powers. Brenner is trying to know the facility of thought. Is it possible to manifest those things that you’re thinking that? An interesting thing is that he encourages her to make use of her anger, and that’s where Eleven’s power comes from. Almost each time she uses that power, it’s in a destructive way. I feel that’s an interesting thing that perhaps in Season 5 the Duffer brothers will explore: the destructive power of our thoughts.

It sounds as if you happen to feel there are still themes so that you can unpack.

Absolutely. I’d also say, there’s an interesting thing that the Duffers put into the story: It’s never really explained how Brenner survived the Demogorgon. How is it that he also survived Vecna? The door hit him within the face and broke his nose, but he survived. Why didn’t he die with everybody else? And when Eleven, after successfully getting her power back and blowing those guards up within the air, tries to make use of the facility against me, Brenner says, “You actually didn’t think it was going to be that easy, did you?” It leaves a gap, in my mind, that perhaps there’s more to Brenner than meets the attention.

How much of his back story have you ever been told?

The one back story I even have is the one I created in my very own mind to play the part.

After a three-year wait, Netflix’s sci-fi series returns with a fourth season.

  • Season 4 Guide: As in seasons past, this go-round is filled with nods and Easter eggs to Seventies and ’80s popular culture. Listed here are the foremost highlights.
  • Review: “Stranger Things” has gone from lovingly echoing Eighties touchstones to industriously copying itself, our critic writes of the show’s fourth installment.
  • Comic Relief: Eduardo Franco, who plays Argyle, a pizza delivery man, within the fourth season, has carved out a task because the show’s addled but reliably hilarious tension-release valve.
  • An Athlete on the Side: Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas on the show, is currently filming a LeBron James biopic. And he still finds time to slay on the tennis court. 

Which is?

I try to know what type of degree would Brenner have. How did he get that job? How did he imagine the job? After I received the script, Brenner was type of like Peter Coyote in “E.T.” — I feel they called that character Keys. He wore jeans and a flannel shirt; he had a pair days’ growth of beard; he had loads of expositional dialogue. After they told me that’s what I used to be doing, I used to be like, I’m not going to mimic Peter Coyote.

So I said, “What if I died my hair white?” I used to be pondering of Marlon Brando in “The Young Lions” and Rutger Hauer in “Blade Runner,” and the Japanese anime bad guys at all times appear to have white hair. And: “I’d like to wear a suit like Cary Grant in ‘North by Northwest’ — after I fall down and rise up, the suit remains to be clean. I would like to be so clean-shaven that the audience can smell my after-shave. And all of this expositional dialogue, I’d love to provide it to people around me so that every one of Dr. Brenner’s focus may be on finding Eleven.”

His concern is what happens if she gets within the hands of somebody that is really evil and exploits her. Brenner, in my standpoint, was never wanting to capture her because he was offended or attempting to harm her — he was attempting to bring her back because she could possibly be weaponized by someone if she got away.

What do you make of the love for ’80s popular culture the show has inspired, particularly in viewers too young to recollect it?

I suppose it was type of like when “American Graffiti” got here out: I believed it was the good and most amazing thing ever. I loved the music. I loved that postwar optimism that every one the youngsters had before the Vietnam War. “American Graffiti” for me is what everybody is experiencing with “Stranger Things.” Having lived through the ’80s, I do know that it wasn’t so great, but that’s what nostalgia is: We select the perfect moments, and every part is smart. For a toddler growing up within the pandemic, there are not any masks and children on bicycles with walkie-talkies and an exquisite song by Kate Bush — I feel that it just looks like a friendlier, less dangerous time.

Has this show modified the way you’re approached in public?

Yeah. Within the old days, if you happen to were successful in 60 territories, that will be phenomenal. I feel Netflix is in over 190 territories. So to be an element of something that’s so successful world wide is something that didn’t exist a decade ago.

Millie and I’d exit in public, and he or she’s immediately recognizable to young people. I’d should remind myself that I used to be with “Millie Bobby Brown, the actor” and never this young girl that I’ve known since she was 11-years-old. To me, she’s just this girl who’s got a captivating personality and an incredible humorousness. And then you definately exit and also you realize, oh, a part of her belongs to the world.

We were driving to Florida — we had a break in filming in Atlanta, so we drove right down to the beach along with her family. We went right into a Wal-Mart to choose up some supplies and other people just were like: “What?! Dr. Brenner and Eleven are in Wal-Mart! What’s happening?!” Talk concerning the Upside Down. We turned people’s lives the wrong way up in that moment. It’s wonderful. I’m so happy with her and the opposite castmates — with this sort of global success, there hasn’t been a train crash. There hasn’t been something terrible that happened to any of them. I don’t need to use names, but we will look back within the ’80s and ’90s at young performers whose lives were chewed up and destroyed by fame and wealth and recognition. They’ve all done thoroughly at keeping their feet grounded.

Would you say that this show has opened doors for you?

I don’t know, it could possibly be too soon to inform. I’m the guy who turned down “Top Gun.” It wasn’t a superb fit for me. To begin with, I’m 6’ 3; I couldn’t fit within the cockpit. [Laughs.]

I’ve never been driven by the need to be famous and wealthy. What I really like about this job is the chance to learn, like Harper Lee says in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” that we never really understand one other person until we get inside their skin and move around.

I feel of “And the Band Played On”: to know what was happening in the course of the AIDS/H.I.V. crisis; to fulfill those scientists who were on the front lines trying to resolve that problem was a unprecedented experience. It was really essential because, particularly in my occupation, it was like a brush fire that was going through my colleagues and taking the lives of individuals. There’s an incredible line in that movie: “When a home is on fire, you don’t look for somebody guilty. You grab a hose and you place the fireplace out.”

That’s what we now have the chance to do: to assist people live vicariously through characters that could make you are feeling higher about life and offer you the chance to learn and develop into more empathetic.

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