On location with Matthew Modine

27 years later, Vision Quest actor returns to the Inland Northwest

SPOKANE, Wash. - 27 years after Vision Quest played out on the big screen with Spokane as its backdrop, actor Matthew Modine has returned to the Inland Northwest.

Modine is back in Spokane to participate in the Spokane International Film Festival as well as put on a special showing of Vision Quest to benefit Ferguson's, the landmark Garland District restaurant hit by fire last year and one of the filming locations for the 1985 film.

Fresh off from his plane from New York Thursday afternoon he drove straight from the airport to the KXLY studio so we could take him on a tour of the city.

As he was taken on a whistle stop tour of some of the iconic sights of the movie, we were able to get some of his impressions of the movie, what it was like filming here as well as what it was like being back after nearly three decades.

"When I met (Director) Harold Becker he said, 'You know kid, I think you're a terrific actor but you're so skinny, can you do 10 push-ups?' I was like, I can do 12."

For anyone who's seen the movie, Modine spends a lot of time running across Spokane.

"When we were filming we ran across every single bridge. There wasn't a bridge in Spokane I didn't run across."

So one of the first stops back in Spokane? The Howard Street Bridge.

"It was the first time I had experienced shin splints in my life," Modine said.

Back in the mid-80s, Matthew Modine was a Utah kid living in New York, trying to fit in, getting by on cigarettes and coffee. And then he was offered the lead role of Louden Swain in Vision Quest, who he says is a lot like him. Where Swain was driven to succeed, Modine was driven to make sure he nailed the role.

"There was no way I was going to pretend to be able to be a wrestler, I was going to have to become a wrestler."

The intense training program Modine went through to get ready for his role got him in wrestling shape within seven weeks.

"Calisthenics in the morning, go run probably five or six miles, then come back and do wrestling drills then I'd go lift weights," he said.

Looking back, he says the story is timeless and cross-cultural.

"The thought of a human being with desires to try and accomplish a goal, that is quite personal," he said.

One of the next stops on his tour of Spokane was back to The Onion, where the memories of seeing his crush - played by Linda Fiorentino - through the window with another man were not very evident as Modine walked up to the window and looked in on restaurant patrons having lunch.

"Do I look in like this? What's up man, how you doing, do you want to wrestle?"

The Ridpath Hotel was the next stop on his tour; it's the place where Louden Swain worked in the movie, and as he saw the hotel, which has seen better days, the memories of the scenes he shot there came back to him.

"I think I ran into this entrance here. Ran here, to go in the locker and put my red jacket on," he recalled.

The final stop on his tour was Ferguson's in the Garland District, another location featured in the film. The restaurant burned down several months ago, so while Modine is in town for the film festival he hosting a special viewing of Vision Quest at the nearby Garland Theater to benefit the restaurant owners to help them rebuild. It's his way of giving back to the community.

"You know when somebody falls down it's our responsibility to put our hand out to help them up. So I'm just another person putting their hand out. Like the whole community is, to help them out. It's a wonderful thing," he said.