Q&A with Dark Knight Rises star Matthew Modine

By Glen Schaefer, The Province October 5, 2011 5:01 PM

American actor Matthew Modine was hoping to take a break from his day job to come to this Saturday’s VIFF screening of his experimental short film Jesus Was a Commie, but if he can’t make it he has a good excuse – he’s one of the stars of the currently-filming Batman finale The Dark Knight Rises.

He called from Los Angeles, where parts of the movie are being filmed under a cloak of secrecy. Here’s an edited transcript of our phone chat:

…GS: Stanley Kubrick?

MM: Stanley Kubrick is a chess player. He could learn more about a person by playing chess with them for an hour than a psychiatrist could learn after a year of therapy.

GS: Did you play chess with him yourself?

MM: When I recognized that about him, I told him I played chess like a three year old. I didn’t want him getting in my head. But you know what? Even my saying that allowed him to learn a lot about me. There’s something very Machiavellian about playing chess. Somebody who really understands the game could create a situation to draw you into a trap, giving up the queen to win the game. He was a master, a real master at creating traps, of feints and illusions. Contrary to that perception, the image we have of Kubrick, that fierce, scowling face, that’s the image he released to the world and it’s something he was very much in control of. Like the Wizard of Oz, Toto goes back and pulls back the curtain and you realize it’s just a little guy pulling some levers.

That’s who Stanley was, in order to protect himself and create an environment to make his art, he had to create this illusion of something that he wasn’t. The illusion of not flying, bizarre behaviour. He didn’t fly because if he flew then he would have to be flying to Los Angeles all the time and dealing with studio executives. Much better to have that, if you’re a chess player again, to have that advantage of being eight hours ahead by living in London. If you want o talk to me about the script come to my house and read it in my house. Don’t let them go home with a copy, so they can’t make notes in it. Come to my house and talk to me about my script. What a great position to put yourself in — what do they call it, home court advantage.

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