15 June 2024
Matthew Modine in Hard Miles

Interview – Matthew Modine on the challenge of Hard Miles and a backstory for “Papa”

To younger audiences, he’s Papa in Stranger Things. To older cinemagoers, he’s Private Joker from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. Matthew Modine has been an actor for nearly forty years and his latest film, Hard Miles, sees him take up road cycling in an inspirational coming of age story.

He plays real life youth instructor Greg Townsend who, during the course of his career, took thousands of students from correctional facilities on long distance bike rides. In the film, he’s about to ride the 762 arduous miles to the Grand Canyon by himself, but changes his plans so that four teenagers can join him. All inexperienced cyclists, they’re burdened by problems created by their upbringings – drugs, violence, gang culture, eating disorders – but, during the course of the ride, Townsend also finds he has to confront his own past, one where he “grew up on fear.”

In this exclusive interview, Modine explains how the film is about forgiveness and never giving up on people, a theme which is close to his heart. “I’ve made mistakes in my life and I’m grateful to those who forgave me and helped me be a better person,” he reflects. And he also describes his brother’s problems as a teenager and how the people who worked with him were “kind and understanding. They didn’t give up on him.” Making the film came with physical challenges for the actors. In an accident on the first day of filming, Modine nearly broke his arm and had to wear long sleeves throughout the shoot to cover up the bruising.

Away from Hard Miles, he’s delighted to have reached a new, younger audience through playing Dr Brenner in Stranger Things. And he hopes we haven’t seen the last of the character, who he believes could have a fascinating backstory. “It would be very interesting if he was number 0, with his own special skills,” he says.

Hard Miles is released in UK cinemas on 31 May 2024. Read our review of the film

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