In Catt/trout Island, actor Matthew Modine finds himself dodging pirates as he searches for buried treasure. He tells Alan Morrison about working with husband and wife team Geena Davis and Renny Harlin.
Back in the days when the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were btrt a twinkle in a television executive‘s eye. kids in the playground were content with picking tip a bit of wood and acting otrt swor'dlights on the high seas. Today the pirate movie is virttrally a thing of the past. btrt at least Matthew Modine got the chance to live out a boyhood dream in the big budget adventtrre ('utt/rmat Is/aml.
Very much in lirrol Flynn mode. Modine roguishly swashes a few buckles as swindler William Shaw alongside ('ieena Davis‘s female pirate Morgan Adams. Preparation for the physical demands of the role — he faces shipwrecks. quicksantl. carriage chases and cliff- face drops — was easy enough for a man who‘d already battled through Worldl War Two in Mertiplris Belle and Vietnam in Full Metal Jacket; other research proved more difficult. ‘I went around New York trying to find books about pirates.’ Modine explains. ‘and the only one I could ﬁnd was Pirates And Smlmny . . . which wasn‘t much help.‘
The son of a drive-in movie theatre manager. Modine was immersed in celluloid as he grew up in Utah. ‘Unfortunately. most of the movies were Stringing .S‘tervattlesses and bad Chinese kung fu
movies.‘ he remembers. ‘But around the time that ()liver.’ was coming out. a 16mm documentary was sent to my father which showed the kids leaming to sing and dance. I didn't differentiate the fact that they
. were actors; I thought these were kids and this was
their life. singing and dancing. I knew that‘s what I wanted to do. so I started taking tap dancing classes. My father suggested I take ttrmbling classes as well because he thought if you’re going to be an actor. you have to learn to fall down.‘
(fart/mutt Island‘s director. Renny Harlin. certainly ptrts those early lessons to good use. The Finnish
i lrlrnrnaker. already larnotrs for his explosive style tn Die Hard 2 and (.‘lijﬂtanger. delivers an equally
spectacular pyrotechnics show this time around. As Modine says: ‘Somebody asked him a question and he said. “We‘ll blow up that bridge when we cross it". I don‘t think that‘s what he meant. btrt maybe it was his subconscious speaking.’
()ne of the most underrated leading men of his
..—I - I Matthew Modine (centre) tries not to come between husband and wlte team Geena Davts and Kenny liarlln
: generation. Modine has now worked with Alan l Parker. Stanley Kubrick. Jonathan Demme. Michael
Carton-Jones, Alan Rudolph and Robert Altman (twice. on Streamers and Short Cuts). Nevertheless. working with a top Hollywood star and her director husband must have provided a different atmosphere on set.
‘Directors always fall in love with the leading lady, so I didn‘t have any problem with it.‘ Modine jokes. ‘I knew Geena when she used to go out with Jeff Goldblum and I really liked that girl. She was really smart and she was a woman’s woman. She‘s a different person now. very much in love. very devoted. Renny was actually very charming the day I had to kiss her. He said, “You know, Matthew, it's okay . . . uh. you know . . . the audience, it‘s very important that. uh . . . you, uh . . . when you . . . it‘s okay.“ He was trying to tell me it was okay for me to stick my tongue down his wife‘s throat.‘
C llll/il‘tml Island opens on Fri 29 Mar.
‘An on-screen gay kiss is seen as more threatening than a mad bomber, a homicidal alien or a vengeful single woman. It’s kryptonite.’ Paul Rudnick knows all about Hollywood’s homophobia, but as writer and co- producer of Jeffrey, he’s managed to get same-sex snagging out of the arthouse and into the mainstream. The film is based on his critically acclaimed, award-winning Ott- Broadway play, and yet in the early days of casting, gay and straight actors were passing up roles left, right
Things changed when a star at no less pulling power than Sigourney Weaver agreed to do a cameo in the movie as a New Age evangelist. ‘One good thing about achieving a certain status in this industry is you can help fund a picture,’ Weaver states. ‘I was attracted to the part because she was such a seductive and wicked character. Here was this very attractive woman using her skills to teed ott a lost people. She seemed to get an almost sexual pleasure out of it. I also got a kick out of the tact that my character insisted that her acolytes wear nothing but beige so that she would always stand out.’
Already you will have guessed that Jeffreyis no anguished tale ot AIDS and death. Serious issues are treated in a sensitive manner, but the overall
Slgourney Weaver adds llollywood weight to
tone is upbeat and very, very tunny. The title character is a young gay actor/waiter who eventually meets his Mr Right . . . just at the point when he has decided to become celibate as the risk of AIDS has taken the joy out ot sex. The film is romantic, teelgood and triendly, and Slgourney Weaver agrees: ‘Jeffrey reminds me of a very witty and ironic Doris Day picture, only it’s a guy who swears ott sex instead ot a girl, tor tar more compelling reasons than her reputation.’
As well as Weaver watch out tor cameos by Kathy llalimy, Olympia Dukakis and Star Trek: The Ilext Generations Patrick Stewart. And, eh, Mother Teresa? (Alan Morrison) Jeffrey opens on Fri 12 Apr. Special previews for list readers take place at the Glasgow and Edinburgh adeons on Fri 5. See advert for ticket details.
The List 22 Mar-4 Apr 1996 '21 , .