Matthew Modine on "Stranger Things" 4 Finale and the Fate of Dr. Brenner

This interview includes spoilers for the entire fourth season of “Stranger Things.” The last episodes of the last season of “ stranger ...


This interview includes spoilers for the entire fourth season of “Stranger Things.”

The last episodes of the last season of “stranger thingswhich debuted Friday on Netflix, included several tragic send-offs. One of the most powerful was the farewell between Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven and her “Daddy”, the white-haired mad scientist Dr. Martin Brenner, played by Hollywood veteran Matthew Modine.

Brenner, who helped Eleven hone her telekinetic powers at the infamous Hawkins National Laboratory, was the show’s main (human) villain until he was mauled by a Demogorgon at the end of Season 1. But he made a surprise return this season, and Modine brought his unique sense of intellectual menace to the flashbacks that filled the origin stories of Eleven and the villainous Vecna ​​(Jamie Campbell Bower), as well as a plot secondary in which he forced Eleven to relearn his very special set of skills.

Brenner again met what seemed like a violent end, being shot multiple times by a sniper from a helicopter in the penultimate episode of the season. But is he gone for good?

Even Modine isn’t sure, he said in a recent phone interview, but he would like to come back one way or another. During the chat, the star of acclaimed movies like “Full Metal Jacket,” “Birdy,” “Married to the Mob,” and HBO’s groundbreaking docudrama “And the Band Played On,” explained how “Stranger Things” had changed his life and why he hopes Brenner’s story isn’t over. These are edited excerpts from the interview.

As you have already experienced yourself, the characters who seem to die in “Stranger Things” often don’t. Will Dr. Brenner return in season 5, which should be the last of the series?

I certainly don’t know. I would love to have the opportunity to come back. To my knowledge, the Duffer Brothers haven’t even started writing Season 5, let alone filming it.

Do you think Dr. Brenner is a bad guy?

It’s an interesting question. Ambition is such a complicated thing. The question I think you are asking is, “Is Brenner capable of empathy and compassion?” Did he like numbers? Did he love Eleven? There’s no doubt that as a performer, I wanted to imbue the character with that love and compassion for him. He wasn’t just exploiting them. He absolutely loved them.

Eleven excelled in what Brenner was trying to discover: this ability to have telekinetic powers. Brenner tries to understand the power of thought. Is it possible to manifest those things that you think about? An interesting thing is that he encourages her to use her anger, and that’s where Eleven’s power comes from. Almost every time she uses this power, it’s in a destructive way. I think that’s a fascinating thing that maybe the Duffer brothers will explore in season 5: the destructive power of our thoughts.

It looks like you feel like you still have some themes left to unpack.

Absolutely. I would also say there’s an interesting thing the Duffers put into the story: it was never really explained how Brenner survived the Demogorgon. How come he also survived Vecna? The door hit him in the face and broke his nose, but he survived. Why didn’t he die with everyone else? And when Eleven, having managed to get her power back and blast those guards into the air, tries to use the power against me, Brenner says, “You really didn’t think it was going to be this easy, did you. right?” It leaves an opening, in my mind, that there may be more to Brenner than meets the eye.

What part of his story have you been told?

The only story I have is the one I created in my head to play the role.

Which one is?

I’m trying to figure out what kind of degree Brenner would have. How did he get this job? How did he imagine the job? When I got the script, Brenner was kind of like Peter Coyote in “ET” – I think they called that character Keys. He wore jeans and a flannel shirt; he had a few days of beard; it had a lot of exposition dialogue. When they told me that’s what I was doing, I thought, I’m not going to imitate Peter Coyote.

So I said, “What if I dye my hair white?” I was thinking of Marlon Brando in “The Young Lions” and Rutger Hauer in “Blade Runner,” and Japanese anime villains always seem to have white hair. And: “I would love to wear a suit like Cary Grant in ‘North by Northwest’ — when I fall down and get up, the suit is still clean. I want to be so clean shaven that the public can smell my aftershave. And all of this exposition dialogue, I’d love to give to the people around me so that Dr. Brenner can focus on finding Eleven.

Her concern is what happens if she falls into the hands of someone who is really evil and exploits it. Brenner, from my point of view, never wanted to capture her because he was angry or trying to hurt her – he was trying to bring her back because she might be armed by someone if she got caught. ran away.

What do you think of the affection for 80s pop culture, the show has inspiredespecially among viewers too young to remember?

I guess it was kind of like when “American Graffiti” came out: I thought it was the coolest, most amazing thing ever. I loved the music. I loved that post-war optimism that all the kids had before the Vietnam War. “American Graffiti” is for me what everyone lives with “Stranger Things”. Having lived through the 80s, I know it wasn’t that great, but that’s nostalgia: you pick the best moments, and it all makes sense. For a kid growing up in the pandemic, there are no masks and kids on bikes with walkie-talkies and a beautiful song by Kate Bush “I think it just seems like a friendlier, less dangerous time.

Has this show changed the way you are approached in public?

Yeah. In the old days, if you were successful in 60 territories, that would be phenomenal. I think Netflix is ​​present in more than 190 territories. So to be part of something that is so successful in the world is something that didn’t exist ten years ago.

Millie and I used to go out in public, and she’s instantly recognizable to young people. I would have to remember that I was with “Millie Bobby Brown, the actress” and not with this young girl whom I have known since she was 11 years old. For me, it’s just this girl who has a charming personality and a great sense of humor. And then you go out and you realize, oh, part of her belongs to the world.

We were driving to Florida – we took a break from filming in Atlanta, so we went to the beach with his family. We went to a Wal-Mart to buy groceries and people were like, “What?! Dr. Brenner and Eleven are at Wal-Mart! What’s going on?!” Talk about the upside. We turned people’s lives upside down in that moment. It’s wonderful. I’m so proud of her and the other actors – with that kind of worldwide success, there was no train wreck. There was nothing terrible that happened to any of them. I don’t want to use names, but we can go back in the years 80s and 90s about young artists whose lives have been chewed up and destroyed by fame, wealth and popularity, and they’ve all done very well to keep their feet on the ground.

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

I don’t know, maybe it’s too early to tell. i am the guy who refused “Top Gun”. It was not a good choice for me. First of all, I’m 6′ 3; I couldn’t get into the cockpit. [Laughs.]

I was never driven by the desire to be famous and rich. What I love about this job is the opportunity to learn, like Harper Lee says in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” that we never truly understand another person until we step into their shoes and move on.

I think of “And the Band Played On”: to understand what was happening during the AIDS/HIV crisis; meeting these scientists who were on the front lines of trying to solve this problem was an extraordinary experience. It was really important because, especially in my profession, it was like a brush fire going through my colleagues and costing people their lives. There is a beautiful line in this film: “When a house burns down, you don’t try to blame anyone. You grab a pipe and put out the fire.

That’s what we have the opportunity to do: help people live vicariously through characters that can make you feel better about life and give you the opportunity to learn and become more empathetic.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Matthew Modine on "Stranger Things" 4 Finale and the Fate of Dr. Brenner
Matthew Modine on "Stranger Things" 4 Finale and the Fate of Dr. Brenner
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