If any of the approximately seventy-nine hundred film societies gave out an annual award for “Most Risky Actor,” Matthew McConaughey would easily take this year’s top prize.
After all, for the last dozen or so years McConaughey has been best known for appearing as the leading man in romantic comedies. The handsome McConaughey could have spent the next dozen years doing the same thing, but in the last eighteen month he has appeared in some of the most challenging roles in his career, including in films like Bernie, Killer Joe, and Magic Mike. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, McConaughey reveals the reasons behind his sudden career shift.
He explains, “I had some romantic comedies, and I read some good ones. But I kind of feel like I’ve done it before. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, but at this time in my life, I kind of said to myself, ‘I’m starting a family, and I’m having a great time doing this epic,’ which is what starting a family is. I want something’s that’s going to kind of shake my core creatively, scare me a little bit, challenge me, arrest me. So I said no to some romantic comedies. Some were pretty good. I felt like I could go do that tomorrow. I don’t want to do something I feel like I can go do tomorrow. I want to do something that I look at, that I’m excited about, that I’m actually scared of.
Fortunately for McConaughey, a lot of roles that “scared” him were offered to him in succession. He reveals, “I was looking for it and as the wonderful world works: Bang! William Friedken wants to see me about doing Killer Joe. Steven Soderbergh calls. Jeff Nichols says he’s interested in me for Mud. Lee Daniels calls, Paperboy. My buddy (Richard Linklater) and I are coming back from hitting baseballs; he says, ‘Hey man, I’m making this movie, it’s called Bernie. I’ve got this part. It’s this prosecutor.’ And he gives me this three-minute pitch, hands me the script, I read it that night and I said yes the next day. They were all sort of what I was looking for. It was exactly what I need.”