“I looked around, at my life and career, and said, ‘I’m in a good spot.’ I was reading some of the same action and romantic comedy stuff. Nothing was that exciting. I had done those for a while. They were fun. They treated me well, I treated them well. They paid my rent. I said, ‘I want to do something else – I don’t know what it is, but I want something to scare me.’ That was a word I remember telling myself. And I wanted it to scare me in a good way.”
“There’s two sorts of fear: one you embrace and one you should listen to and turn the other way. Good fear is when you’re scared because you don’t know the answer, and looking at a role, whoa. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be able to do with that; this is really courageous and daring material, I’m not sure about it. But I’m excited, because I know I’ll come out the other side, I just gotta go through the blind spots, dive in, and say, ‘I’m going to take it on.’ It’s very different than a fear when you’re trying to make it work because you think it would be eccentric for eccentricity’s sake — that’s not the good fear. That’s the one you should probably turn away from and go, ‘No, the reason my gut isn’t into this is because it’s wrong’” - Matthew McConaughey
I've been a big fan of the guy for a long time, since I saw him charming the pants off of everyone in EdTV opposite the now invisible Jenna Elfman, so it comes as a pleasant surprise to find him actually acting these days. But even prior to that I had seen him in five big films in five years going back to Dazed and Confused and ending with The Newton Boys, a movie that could have finished everyone's career but instead only accounted for Skeet Ulrich and yet I hadn't paid any attention to him. Clearly somebody did as when he was finally given some room to breath and put his own stamp on things he excelled.
How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Failure To Launch, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and The Wedding Planner are just four of the stinkers in his past but for me this second stage of McConaughey's career is most notable for his musical talent, later referenced with a great big wink in Magic Mike. He was arrested by Austin, Texas police in October 1999 and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a neighbour called to complain about the volume of the music coming from his home. On arriving at the scene the cops found McConaughey dancing naked and playing the bongos. The drug charges against McConaughey were eventually dropped, though the star did plead guilty to violating Austin's noise ordinance, for which he paid a $50 fine. How cool is that?
As his bank account grew fatter his credibility dropped off but now in a move that mirrors that of Ben Affleck (only without the directing so far) he has boldly taken hold of his career. In a statement that basically reads as a fuck you to the Hollywood nonsense that made him rich, he has been seeking out interesting scripts and putting in bold performance after bold performance. In 2012 he kicked some serious acting ass and the lack of awards consideration is surprising to say the least. Major supporting roles in Bernie and Magic Mike would have been enough for most actors in the wake of last years Lincoln Lawyer but his eponymous turn in William Friedkin's (who has surely made a film as a call to arms for all directors needing to restart their careers in a low budget style) Killer Joe was by far the most enjoyable male performance I've seen this year and a complete revelation. And yes I did see the chameleon-like Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln.
It doesn't look like this will be a one off year either, with forthcoming releases Mud (fugitive from law gets help from PG-13 kids,) Dallas Buyers Club (horrifically skinny AIDS sufferer opposite Jared Leto,) The Wolf of Wall Street (Scorcese directed true crime story) and the most dangerous film of all The Paperboy, which just might suffer from the recent John Cusack curse and stink, 2013 could be even bigger for him. Here's hoping the Bongos train is too powerful to be derailed by that curse.
To celebrate 2012, the year of Matthew McConaughey, here is a selection of my ten favourite Bongos movies:
10. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) Dir. Brad Furman
9. Reign of Fire (2002) Dir. Rob Bowman
8. A Time To Kill (2006) Dir. Joel Schumacher
7. Sahara (2005) Dir. Breck Eisner
6. Dazed and Confused (1993) Dir. Richard Linklater
5. Bernie (2012) Dir. Richard Linklater
4. Magic Mike (2012) Dir. Steven Soderbergh
3. EdTV (1999) Dir. Ron Howard
2. Lone Star (1996) Dir. John Sayles
1. Killer Joe (2012) Dir. William Friedkin
I apologise to fans of Contact and am waiting to hear somebody defend those chickflicks. Go!