Attention, Stranger Things fans: if you have a crazy theory about Netflix’s blockbuster ’80s sci-fi throwback you’re dying to share with someone, Matthew Modine is eager to listen. “Have your readers tweet me if they have some ideas,” the Full Metal Jacket star, who played Dr. Brenner on Stranger Things‘ beloved first season, tells Yahoo TV enthusiastically. “The fan stuff is amazing. I’d love to hear what they have to say.”
Modine’s favorite fan theory of the moment? That Eleven, the psychokinetic tween (played by breakout star Millie Bobby Brown) who Dr. Brenner has raised in secrecy in his Indiana lab, is a test tube baby rather than the biological offspring of Terry Ives (Aimee Mullins). “She’s something that’s been created — she doesn’t come from a womb,” Modine says, elaborating on this line of fan thinking.
Lest you believe that being part of the Stranger Things family might provide the actor with insider knowledge, he makes a point of mentioning that he doesn’t possess the answers to the theories you might send his way. After all, Dr. Brenner’s current status within the show’s universe is unclear. The Season 1 finale seemed to suggest that he became food for the monstrous Demogorgon who has been terrorizing the neighboring town of Hawkins. “It was all very dramatic,” Modine says of filming Brenner’s inconclusive final scene. “They had all these cables on me, and I flew through the air about 20 feet. But when they started cutting the scene together, what was very dramatic [became] anticlimactic. The Duffer brothers have said that if that was the end of Dr. Brenner, they’d be very disappointed.”
Take that as Modine’s answer for whether or not Eleven’s “father” will return in Season 2. Even if he doesn’t make an appearance, he’ll be eagerly binging on new episodes when they hit Netflix on October 31 to have his question answered… maybe. “I want to know the backstory of Dr. Brenner and Eleven,” he says, expressing the wishes of many fans. “If she’s number eleven, is that a binary number? Were there 10 people before her? Is it like Heinz 57 sauce — were there 56 attempts before they got to 57? I don’t know and I want to know. The thing that interests me is that everyone thinks Brenner’s a bad guy. But I think what my have happened is that he opened Pandora’s box. He knows how dangerous she is, and that’s why he’s so desperately trying to bring her back to the laboratory. That’s my feeling, anyway.”
Modine is in a unique position to know why Stranger Things became as successful as it did. After all, he came of age as an actor in the ’80s, appearing in such era-defining favorites as Birdy, Married to the Mob, and Vision Quest. (That high school wrestling drama, which marked Madonna’s first major film appearance, recently made its Blu-ray debut.) “When we look back at the ’80s now, it seems like such a beautiful, simple existence,” he explains. “Of course, if you were living at that time, you know it wasn’t. But we moved through the world differently than we do today. You had kids riding around on their bicycles instead of having helicopter parents hustling them from soccer to school to music lessons — all the things parents do today instead of just letting kids go out and play until it gets dark. Winona Ryder’s character [Joyce Byers] doesn’t know her son is missing until the next morning. If that happened today, the mother would probably be arrested!”
Stranger Things is currently streaming on Netflix. Season 2 premieres Oct. 31.
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‘Stranger Things’ Star David Harbour Reflects on What Really Made the Show a Supernatural Sensation
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