Interview: Matthew Modine Talks Tribeca Film Fest Short, TNT’s ‘Proof,’ and Casting Dick Van Dyke Via Twitter

Actor, writer, filmmaker Matthew Modine
Actor, writer, filmmaker Matthew Modine

Matthew Modine (“Weeds,” “Full Metal Jacket”) wrote a short film that turned into a family affair. His son, Boman Modine, who is a budding filmmaker himself, directed it, and his daughter, Ruby, has a small role in it as well. The comedy short, called “Merry Xmas,” was chosen for the Tribeca Film Festival and stars Matthew, Glenne Headley, Dick Van Dyke, and Valerie Harper.

Matthew is also starring in a new TV show called “Proof” that will premiere June 16, 2015 on TNT with Jennifer Beals in the lead. It’s a show that explores the subject of life after death.

But that’s not all! He’s also in a comic film that will be coming out later in the year called “The Confirmation,” in which he costars with Clive Owen, Maria Bello, and Patton Oswalt, and he has written and is directing yet another film.

Matthew took some time from the set of “Proof” to answer a few questions about his many projects.

How did “Merry Xmas” come about from your writing of the screenplay to your son’s involvement?

Boman and I have often thought about working together. He was looking for something fresh, funny, and light. I told him about a script I’d written based on a very old joke, that I think I heard from my dad. He read it, and we agreed to move forward.

We knew the most important characters in the film were the mother and father. In order to sell the joke, we’d need two amazing actors to pull it off.

Dick Van Dyke in "Merry Xmas"
Dick Van Dyke in “Merry Xmas”

So, how did Dick Van Dyke and Valerie Harper become involved? Were they friends of yours?

We knew the most important role to cast first was the father. We all loved the idea of Dick Van Dyke, but we weren’t sure how to reach out to him. I saw he was on Twitter, so I thought, “What the heck! I’ll send him a tweet and see if he responds.” He did. We had lunch, and Dick agreed to go for the ride.

My co-producer, Joe d’Angerio is a good friend of Valerie Harper. He asked her, and she enthusiastically agreed. Val’s role is very important because she tees up the punchline. Valerie is such a tremendous talent.

What was it like to be directed by your son?

He tells me what to do all the time. So, it wasn’t different from our day-to-day life.

Watch the trailer for Merry Xmas below the ad:

Do you have plans to make more of your own films?

Boman’s working with me as a co-producer on “The Rocking Horsemen,” a feature I wrote and will shoot this summer [starring Sean Astin, Jennifer Beals, Billy Zane, Eric Stoltz, and David Alan Grier].

I understand that your character in “Proof” is a wealthy man who wants to solve the mystery about life after death. What can you tell us about the character without giving too much away?

He’s actually a multibillionaire. His name is Ivan Turing, and he wants to know, scientifically, what happens when we die. He doesn’t care if it’s nothing or some magical place our souls drift off to upon our demise. Turing is prepared to give all of his money to the person who can provide the scientific evidence.

You can follow Ivan on Twitter @IvanTuring. He’d love to hear from you. Send him your proof!

What attracted you to the show the most?

I liked the maturity of the subject matter and its approach to a question as old as humans pondering death.

Tell us about working with Jennifer Beals and Joe Morton.

It’s wonderful to be working with actors that you came up with. We are witness to each other’s lives and careers.

Can you tell me a little about the film, “The Confirmation,” and your role in it?

I’m Maria Bello’s husband. Clive Owen is her ex. My character is in that uncomfortable position of being the stepfather to Clive’s son. It’s a cool film – well-written and directed with a pretty amazing cast.

If you’re in New York, you can get tickets for “Merry Xmas,” which is included in a slate of short films on Apr. 19, 20, 23, and 25. Visit the Tribeca Film Festival website for information. Meanwhile, watch the trailer for TNT’s “Proof” below.


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