Killer Joe was definitely in my Top 10 of 2012, and most of that had to do with the incredibly surprising performance by Matthew McConaughey as the title character. I also thought he killed it (no pun intended) last year as another lawman in Bernie. Prior to his amazing 2012, McConaughey had the distinction of starring in one of my all-time favorite movies, Dazed and Confused, and one of my all-time hated movies, The Wedding Planner, with the latter being just one of the poorly-reviewed romantic comedies that McConaughey eventually became known for.
But it’s clear that after a short break in acting McConaughey is determined to make up for lost time in a series of jaw-dropping performances. He spoke to Details about his recent career change.
Despite the critical acclaim he has received for playing against the romantic comedy type he became known for, McConaughey reveals that it wasn’t a conscious decision. He says, “I never said, ‘Oh, I want to go do darker or edgier stuff.’ I just said, ‘I’m going to take some time off. I have to take care of my family right now. We’ve got the means in the bank account, we’ve got a roof over our head, we’re gonna eat well, we’re fine. So let’s take some introspective time.’ It wasn’t a mini-retirement. It was just that I wanted to listen to myself and be a bit more discerning.”
On the other hand, McConaughey admits that he did enjoy stretching his acting muscles. He explains, “I enjoyed what I was doing, but I felt like I did it last time and I can do it again tomorrow. I just wanted to shake in my boots a little bit. I want to go deal with some real consequence in films. I remember writing this down: ‘I want to be able to hang my hat on the humanity of the character every day.'”
However, McConaughey doesn’t want to give the impression that he’s more thankful for the roles he is being offered now than the roles he played in the past — even the bad one. In fact, he actually describes his recent career path as “selfish,” pointing out, “I’m just as thankful now as I ever was. But I’m choosing to be more selfish. I remember feeling not sure about what I wanted to do and feeling—I’m not sure despondent is the right word, but a feeling like things are plateauing. I wanted more evolution. I want to feel ascension in the grade. Because I was feeling a lot of ascension in my personal life, qualitative evolution. I wanted to close the gap between who I am and the life I’m living and my work life. So I think I got really selfish. You start a family and you get selfish.”