Actor of the Week: Matthew McConaughey
Actor of the Week time! This week’s honour goes to Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey. I feel I write this from a well-grounded point of view, because once upon a time, I considered McConaughey a bit of a cheeseball. He went through a period in the early-to-mid 2000s of doing tacky rom-coms and I just associated him with these and never paid him much more attention.
It wasn't until 2008’s Tropic Thunder that I took a shine to him. In Tropic Thunder, I by no means feel his acting is outstanding all-round, because his character, in keeping with the whole film, was just full of absurdity. But in this role, he retained the humour from his rom-coms, and then evolved it. I personally saw a different side to him, as it was just rib-ticklingly good whenever he was on screen.
He again applied his humour to his cameo appearance in The Wolf Of Wall Street. However, in this role, it was coupled nicely with his outstanding acting ability. He was gripping and hilarious, a great mix!
The first time I really noticed and enjoyed his top-drawer acting was in 2011’s The Lincoln Lawyer. He plays Mick Haller, a lawyer who literally works out of his car - yep, a Lincoln. He is hired to defend a man who is accused of assaulting a prostitute. Whilst dealing with the case, he notices evidence that seems familiar and realises it could be related to a case he had previously. In Lincoln Lawyer, he's got the lot - charisma, humour, and conviction. He was excellent in it and I instantly changed my mind about him. Check out the scene below - smooth and sophisticated!
His Oscar-winning turn came in 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club, in which he plays Ron Woodruff, a racist, homophobic electrician-come-rodeo rider. Set in 1985, the world is a very different place, and it’s reflected as such when Ron is informed he is HIV+ whilst in hospital for an unrelated injury. He reacts angrily, unleashing damning expletives against the gay community. He quickly comes to his senses and listens to his body, realising the diagnosis is real. His character evolves from aggressive homophobe to sympathetic community man, whilst searching for and supplying both himself and others with the drug AZT, a drug only in the trials stage. The film includes another Oscar-winning performance from Jared Leto. Safe to say, there's some seriously high quality here.
Moving away from the films briefly, as with Mads Mikkelsen in our very first AotW, my favourite McConaughey role is Rust Cohle in the series True Detective. This is acting of supreme quality. Cohle is a detective with a past that has changed him for the worst, in terms of social skills and therefore perception. He gets on with virtually no-one and his methods and conclusions essentially make him suspect. The acting here is tremendous - McConaughey literally is Cohle. He is weird, he is extremely intriguing, and he is absolutely fantastic. Whether it's the clean-shaven weirdo from earlier in his life, or the ragged, disheveled weirdo later on, McConaughey fits the bill perfectly and really brings Rust Cohle to life - a real treat. His dynamic with Woody Harrelson shouldn't go unmentioned here, either. The two characters are chalk and cheese, and they bounce off each other brilliantly.
Of course, McConaughey has been in several other high-end films and roles. In Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, he plays Cooper, a pilot and ex-science engineer, who leads a team through interstellar travel to ensure the survival and prolonging of the human race - to the chagrin of Cooper’s daughter Murph, another amazing performance by Jessica Chastain, as well as Mackenzie Foy, as a ten-year-old Murph. 2012’s Mud is another one well worth checking out.
McConaughey has clearly always had that outstanding quality that has led him to the very top of the pile, and that has, absolutely rightly, put me in my place in terms of how wrong I was about him, earlier doors. On a final note, below, check out his speech after winning his Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club - very emotive and very human. I take my hat off to you Matthew, you are a genius.