‘Hard Miles’ Exclusive Interview: Matthew Modine

Film

Opening in theaters on April 19th is the new sports drama ‘Hard Miles,’ which was directed by R.J. Daniel Hanna (‘Miss Virginia’) and stars Matthew Modine (‘Full Metal Jacket,’ ‘Oppenheimer’).

Related Article: Movie Review: ‘Oppenheimer’

Matthew Modine in 'Hard Miles'.

Matthew Modine in ‘Hard Miles’. Photo: Blue Fox Entertainment.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Matthew Modine about his work on ‘Hard Miles,’ his first reaction to the screenplay, his character, why Greg pushes his students, working with the cast of young actors, shooting the cycling scenes, and his own love for bicycling.

You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interview.

Matthew Modine in 'Hard Miles'.

Matthew Modine in ‘Hard Miles’. Photo: Blue Fox Entertainment.

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about your first reaction to the screenplay and why you wanted to play a character like Greg Townsend?

Matthew Modine: What Greg Townsend was able to do is to help young people who have found themselves in reform school, to help them to be able to rehabilitate and get on with their lives and live productive lives. So that I think was the most exciting aspect of the film for me, was to play a character like that.

MF: Can you talk about Greg’s conflict with his own father and how those issues cause him to push the kids on their bike ride, and what is he trying to teach them about life?

MM: It was funny because Daniel and I had conversations about it. Were those elements going to be beneficial to a story that already was telling a big story about helping these young kids to live productive lives, to see that the world is bigger than the gang that they were in or the troubled home that they came from? That’s a big story, and I wondered if Greg’s personal story might get in the way of that. Daniel and our other screenwriter, Christian Sander, felt that it was important that we understand this is why Greg is pushing people, because he was pushed by his own father. I think it works very well in the film. It was probably just me nervous about wanting to expose my own difficulties in my personal relationship with my own father, who I love very much. The problem of being a parent is that sometimes you have to say no, and sometimes you must be the disciplinarian in your home. I guess it’s the way that we do that and that the people that we’re disciplining always know that it’s coming from a place of love, affection and understanding of the world that they don’t yet understand, that the difficulties that a young person is going to have to go through are sometimes not pleasant. So, the teachers that help us to understand that when we’re young, we don’t truly understand, because of our youth, the difficulties that we’re going to face. So, when they say no to something, we think that, foolishly is really the word, naively think that they’re punishing us and they’re not. They’re just trying to help us to understand that drugs are not the answer, and that stealing is not the solution to acquiring things that you want. So, it’s difficult to be a parent. It’s difficult to be an educator. I think it’s gotten more complicated today in the world that we live in.

Matthew Modine in 'Hard Miles'.

(Center) Matthew Modine in ‘Hard Miles’. Photo: Blue Fox Entertainment.

MF: Can you talk about Greg’s conflict with Woolbright and the potential he sees in him?

MM: I think at the beginning of the movie I’m fighting so hard to save the young kid in the trial that’s being sent away who’s really made great strides to be a good person, and the system tosses him away and puts him into a more maximized prison. He loses him. Then here’s a character like Woolbright who doesn’t seem to care, who breaks the rules all the time, and yet he’s not punished. So, I think that Greg has an animosity toward him, a bitterness toward him because he’s not trying, and that other kid tried, and Greg failed. So that animosity that he has toward Woolbright, it’s a relationship of frustration.

MF: What was it like working with the young actors that play the students?

MM: Because we didn’t have a budget to have separate facilities to change clothes and get ready, we had the production trailer, which was also where the production staff, the assistant directors, and the costume department was. Everybody was in a small, tiny trailer. So, we got dressed together, we ate our lunch together, and we complained together about the long distances that we were riding. Then we exchanged stories and we learned about each other’s lives. One of the actors comes from Puerto Rico, Damien Diaz, and it was interesting to hear this was really his first film and the excitement of this opportunity for him. Jackson Kelly was a New Yorker, and his career was on its way, and so it was exciting to be with him. Zach Robbins had played my adopted son in a movie when he was in single digits in North Carolina. So, it was fun to reconnect with him. So, it was a great circus kind of wonderful experience that I’ve never had on a film before.

Matthew Modine in 'Hard Miles'.

Matthew Modine in ‘Hard Miles’. Photo: Blue Fox Entertainment.

MF: What was it like shooting on location and filming the bicycling sequences?

MM: Well, the good news there is that you don’t really have to think too much about acting, the bicycle and the hard miles that we were putting in take care of that. You just must react to things that are happening to your body, reacting to the things that other characters are saying. So it doesn’t demand a lot of what we’d say was acting, that you know the lines, you know what you’re supposed to be doing, you know what you’re trying to accomplish in the scene, and then you just have to react to the circumstances of 110 degree heat, and the hundreds of miles that you’re riding over the course of a day to be able to accomplish the goal of making the movie.

MF: Finally, can you talk about your physical preparation for this movie and your own love for bicycling?

MM: I’ve been riding a bike in New York City since I moved here, since I was 19 years old. Bicycling is part of my form of getting from one place to another. The longest rides I do in New York City is from Greenwich Village to Yankee Stadium. It’s a great ride. You go through Lower Manhattan, you go through Central Park, you go through Harlem, you get to the Bronx, enjoy a baseball game, have a couple beers and then ride home at nighttime. It’s magical because the bicycle really is a physical manifestation of democracy. You hear a lot of people today talking about being in the moment and being present. Well, on a bicycle, you can’t be anything but, in the moment, and present, because if you’re not, you get hurt. You don’t see the pothole in the road, you don’t see the car that’s stopping in front of you or the door that’s opening and you can get hurt. The last thing I’ll say about making this film is that it was a real endeavor that could not have been accomplished without a tremendous amount of love from everybody that worked on it, from the producers to the craft service guys, this was a real work of love.

“Push to the limit.”

PG-131 hr 48 minOct 21st, 2023

Showtimes & Tickets

A strong-willed social worker at a youth prison assembles a cycling team of teenage convicts and takes them on a transformative 1000-mile ride. Inspired by the life… Read the Plot

What is the plot of ‘Hard Miles’?

A beleaguered coach named Greg (Matthew Modine) rallies a group of disgruntled teenage inmates for a transformative 1000-mile bicycle ride from Denver to the Grand Canyon, battling obstacles and each other.

Who is in the cast of ‘Hard Miles’?

Matthew Modine in 'Hard Miles'.

Matthew Modine in ‘Hard Miles’. Photo: Blue Fox Entertainment.

Other Movies Similar to ‘Hard Miles’:

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