Matthew Modine is *not* like Papa! While the Stranger Things actor plays twisted scientist and father figure to Eleven (played by Millie Bobby Brown) in the Netflix series, he has hopes for the final season to be a message of love and forgiveness.

“I think that that forgiveness is the most powerful thing in the universe,” he told J-14 exclusively at the Stranger Things: The Experience in Brooklyn, New York. The actor also spoke about why he thinks Dr. Brenner is still alive, the show’s cultural impact and — most importantly — the song that would save him from Vecna. Keep reading to uncover *all* things Papa.

Will Dr. Brenner Return for Season 5?

On August 31, J-14 exclusively spoke to Matthew at the Stranger Things: The Experience in Brooklyn, New York while he surprised fans dressed as his character on the show: the cold-hearted (or misunderstood?) antagonist that is Dr. Brenner.

Throughout the Netflix series, Dr. Brenner experiments on the minds of children to enact their telekinesis powers, acting as a twisted father figure known by them as “Papa.” The mad scientist has many brushes to death, including in season 4 when *spoiler* a gunshot wound ends his life, once and for all … Or, does it?

“He escaped Vecna, he escaped the Demogorgon,” Matthew explained to J-14. “Eleven tried to use her powers against him and it didn’t work. He says, ‘You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?’”

He added, “I think that that given his history, it would be very disappointing if just some bullets were to be the end of his participation in the show.”

On His Hopes for the Final Season

Nearing the end of season 4, Dr. Brenner asks — in a roundabout way — for Eleven’s forgiveness while he lay dying. Although Eleven refused to give her “papa” that understanding in his final moments, Matthew explained that forgiveness “is the most powerful thing in the universe.”

He revealed, “I think that if I were writing a conclusion to the [final] season that that would be where I would go. Eleven discovered that because her power comes from anger … [I hope] she realizes that the power of love is much greater than the power of hate.”

“Especially, at this time, in this moment, in the history of humanity,” he said. “I think that with this horrible war that’s happening and the Ukraine, and so much gun violence in the United States, that for people to appreciate and understand the power of forgiveness and love would be a great thing for Eleven to share with the world.”

matthew modine stranger things
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 31: Matthew Modine attends Stranger Things: The Experience in NY and surprises fans on August 31, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Netflix) Getty Images for Netflix

On the Show’s Cultural Impact

The seasoned actor, 63, has starred in ’80s Blockbuster hits like Full Metal Jacket, Vision Quest and Birdy, but explained to J-14 that nothing he’s been a part of has compared to the phenomenon that is Stranger Things. “Netflix is in over 190 territories around the world. So, that brings you to an audience that never existed before,” he enthused.

“I think the biggest difference for young audiences today, just as social media and the internet has changed the way people communicate with one another, streaming services like Netflix, [has done that with cinema],” he explained.

And what is, pray tell, the song that would help save Matthew escape from Vecna?  “The ‘Hokey Pokey,'” he said before starting to sing the tune. “How could he harm a person singing ‘Hokey Pokey?'”

The actor added, “I could make Vecna laugh.”

Stranger Things: The Experience is an adventure that begins with a visit to Hawkins Plaza – where fans come to discover that things are not what they seem – and eventually find themselves in the darker side of Hawkins Lab and the Upside Down.  This brand new storyline, developed exclusively with the show’s creators, propels guests into a parallel universe where they must unlock their secret powers to face the gauntlet of lurking terrors and help save the town. 

After debuts in New York, San Francisco, and London, the immersive experience is opening in Atlanta on October 22, 2022.

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