Matthew McConaughey The Lincoln Lawyer[Photo Credit: Lionsgate]
Matthew McConaughey Killer Joe[Photo Credit: LD Entertainment]
Matthew McConaughey Bernie[Photo Credit: Millennium Entertainment]
Matthew McConaughey Magic Mike[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
Matthew McConaughey Mud[Photo Credit: Lionsgate]
Mattew McConaughey Dallas Buyers Club[Photo Credit: Focus Features]
Matthew McConaughey Wolf of Wall Street[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]
Matthew McConaughey True Detective[Photo Credit: HBO]
By this time next week Matthew McConaughey might have an Oscar. That’ll likely sound strange if you still think of him as David Wooderson, the ambiguously aged keg party enthusiast from Dazed and Confused, or as a naked conga drummer. (Let the record state that MM still plays, he’s just more careful about closing his windows these days.) Over the last 18 months, McConaughey has delivered the best work of his career, earning a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award and proving that it’s never too late to expect the unexpected–even from a guy whose personal mantra is just to keep on livin’.
McConaughey took nearly three years off–and after The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, who wouldn’t want to reassess?–before beginning a career renaissance with moves towards smaller, smarter parts and fewer big budget features. Agent Jim Toth (Reese Witherspoon’s husband) helped fight to get McConaughey roles like the charmingly sinister Dallas in Magic Mike, which led to his career making turn as Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club, and soon enough Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Wait a minute, who is this new dramatic powerhouse and what has he done with the ageless party boy who runs shirtless with Lance Armstrong?! He’s still there; to help with the transition, McConaughey even took at least three roles in which he was required to wear a cowboy hat.
In honor of one of the coolest dudes in Hollywood’s big year, let’s take a look at some of the strategic career moves that helped transform him for stoner frat bro to award season juggernaut. You can still enjoy the magic of McConaughey and Kate Hudson in How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days (and even Fool’s Gold) but at least promise us you’ll check out Mud, OK?
1. Take good parts in strong projects, even if they’re cameos.
Rather than helm an underwhelming romantic comedy starring the latest in what’s been a rotating cast of gorgeous female counterparts, MM wisely chose smart roles that didn’t necessarily give him top billing. He stole much of the first Wolf of Wall Street trailer with his chest-bumping even though he’s in 15 minutes of the film (tops). He’s not the lead in Magic Mike, or even considered one of the club’s premier dancers, but Dallas leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth you simply can’t get from the questionable drinks at the Xquisite bar. And he gets to strip. Fugazi, fugazi, right?
2. Remind people that you’re gorgeous, but keep it classy.With so many shirtless running photos and so many shirtless movie roles, we were beginning to take McConaughey’s handsomeness for granted. One way to fix that is by starring in a glamorous ad for Dolce & Gabanna opposite Scarlett Johansson and directed by Martin Scorsese. Yes, this cowboy cleans up well.
3. Be yourself.
McConaughey told The Graham Norton Show that his iconic chest-beating in The Wolf of Wall Street was based on something he does before takes to “relax” and “get [his] voice to drop.” His unique ritual made it on camera at the request of his costar, Leonardo DiCaprio.
4. Take risks.
The Academy loves a transformation, and 2013 McConaughey delivered memorable personal and physical changes in Dallas Buyers Club. By losing some 38 pounds he became a shell of his former self, raw and exposed, but managed to find the strength to portray a man whose HIV diagnosis was simply the beginning of a second life. With the old McConaughey we may have gotten caught up in the physical–prying for detailed accounts of the noted gym rat’s weight loss routine–but instead we’re left more impressed by his ability to float between giving true Texan charm and real vulnerability, creating a face for the disease that’s taken millions.
5. Always remember your roots.
Despite being about the last night of high school in a small town, the low budget film has had a huge effect on Hollywood and McConaughey 20 years later. It’s why he praised director Richard Linklater (whom he worked with again on Bernie) during his Inside the Actor’s Studio chat, and why he quoted the illustrious Wooderson during his Golden Globe acceptance speech.
Will McConaughey be rewarded for what entertainment writers have playfully dubbed the “McConaissance”? Find out when the Oscars air on Sunday, March 2 at 8:30 pm on ABC.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images, Splash News]