Despite a star-making turn in Dazed and Confused, for years, Matthew McConaughey was simply known as the go-to guy for romcoms. This seemingly endless run of forgettable rom-coms made him seem like an actor who would eventually fade away. Then, against all the odds, 2011 happened — and thus began what is known as the The McConaissance, when he completely broke his archetype and starred in the critically-acclaimed The Lincoln Lawyer.
Yet McConaughey's career is not simply a case on rom-com-star-turned-Oscar winner; he's a man of many phases, all of which help shape him into the actor we know and love today. Some are good and some and bad, but they all combine to make what is now considered one of Hollywood's best actors, who even boasts an Academy Award to his name!
Phase 1: The Entry-Level McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey's very first acting gig is the one pictured above, which was a TV show called Unsolved Mysteries on HBO in 1992. McConaughey's role was playing the victim of a real-life murder, who, McConaughey explains, was caught just 11 days after this episode aired! In the episode, we see a fresh-faced McConaughey at the young age of 22, showing off his Hollywood-hunk looks a few years before he'd get his big break. I'm not quite sure why he had to have his top off in the episode, but I guess if you got it, flaunt it!
It was also in 1992 that McConaughey got his big break in Dazed and Confused. It's crazy to think that 1 year after doing that small #TV gig that #MatthewMcConaughey would star in one of his most iconic roles ever. This indie cult-classic was directed by the fantastic Richard Linklater (Boyhood) who put McConaughey on the map in the role of Wooderson. It was in this role that McConaughey first uttered his immortal catchphrase, 'Alright alright alright'. Check out the moment of history above!
Phase 2: The Rising Talent
Fast forward 4 years later, and we see a completely different McConaughey in Lone Star (1996). And if Matthew McConaughey and Lone Star sound familiar together, then you're probably a True Detective fan because that's the name of the beer Rust Cohle drinks in the HBO hit. I'm not sure if it's an intentional throwback to one of McConaughey's best films or not, but either was it's super cool! Lone Star was about a Sheriff who uncovers lots of secrets in his Texas bordertown, but how cool would that be? This crime classic showcased a very young McConaughey who seemed a lot more mature than his Dazed and Confused role a mere 4 years before! Looking forward to a year later, we got one, of McConaughey's best roles to date...
You guessed it. The fantastic slow-burn that is Contact came out in 1997, and gave us an indicator to how likeable of an actor Matthew McConaughey was. This ambitious sci-fi told the story of Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster) searching for conclusive proof of alien life through the use of radio waves. Along with Matthew McConaughey, the great acting pair managed to create on of the best sci-fi movies of the nineties. One quote I love by the Texan-born actor in this film is his take on technology, and how it pulls us apart rather than bring us together:
Is the world fundamentally a better place because of science and technology? We shop at home, we surf the Web... at the same time, we feel emptier, lonelier and more cut off from each other than at any other time in human history...
That's the wise and intelligent McConaughey we all know and love, right? Now let's take a look at the next phase of McConaughey's acting career: the chick flicks...
Phase 3: The Chick-Flicks
McConaughey's good looks saw him relegated to the eye-candy in mediocre rom-coms for years, the first of which was The Wedding Planner (above). This cheesy flick also starred Jennier Lopez and opened to very bad reviews, one of which from USA Today read:
"Don't buy a ticket for this one, even if the theater is having a fire sale on Raisinets"
Unfortunately, McConaughey stuck with the chick flicks for a while, but thankfully, they got somewhat better. At least we're getting closer to him in his prime!
How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days might've been the best chick-flick McConaughey ever made! The film sits at a decent 6.4 rating on IMDb.com and started a poster trend by McConaughey which saw him constantly leaning on his co-stars.
McConaughey's chick-flick stage had its ups and downs, but they weren't the only roles he took in in the 2000's. Take Tropic Thunder (Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black) for example, which was a critical and financial success. After the likes of Fools Gold (2008), Sahara (2005) and Surfer, Dude (2008), Matthew McConaughey reminded us all how funny and talented he could be in his small role in Tropic Thunder as Rick Peck.
Back in 2009 you could say that Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is the calm before the storm in McConaughey's career. I'd be lying if I said this film wasn't a guilty pleasure of mine however, which I think all of you will find on this list.
Phase 4: The Real Deal
This phase marked the rebirth of Matthew McConaughey. He took 2 years out after making Ghosts of Girlfriends Past before The Lincoln Lawyer (above) was released, which changed the perception of the actor we all knew to be a chick-flick go-to. This film sits at a respectable IMDb rating of 7.3 and a Metascore of 63. With a brilliant supporting cast, including the likes of Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Marisa Tomei (Anger Management) and Michael Peña (Ant-Man). Also it was directed by the man behind The Infiltrator, Brad Furman- the film was the perfect choice to revive McConaughey's career!
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One year from The Lincoln Lawyer and McConaughey turned in one of his best performances of his career in Mud, which really showing people how well he could act. Mud followed the story of two young boys who help Matthew McConaughey, who was a fugitive, and to try and reunite him with his true love. It might sound lovey-dovey, but this beautifully directed film will be sure to move you with the fantastic performances from everybody in the cast.
Phase 5: Award-Worthy
2013 marked a very important year for McConaughey, most notably for starring in the role that would eventually lead him on to winning an Oscar for Best Actor: Dallas Buyers Club. This fantastic bio-pic told the story of Ron Woodroof, who in 1985, broke the system and found a way to help AIDS patients get the medication they needed. His huge body transformation and moving performance make McConaughey every bit worthy of the award, which pitted him up against a fantastic performance from Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street- which leads us to our next film...
McConaughey didn't have a starring role in The Wolf of Wall Street, but he did create an iconic moment when he chanted to DiCaprio's Jordan Belfort. Fun fact about that scene; Matthew McConaughey pitched the idea of that chant because he said it's what he does before a scene to prepare, and when DiCaprio saw this, he knew he had to include it to set the tone for the film.
After conquering the movie-world and winning an Oscar, McConaughey had the fantastic idea of going into TV...
Matthew McConaughey's haunting performance as Rust Cohle in HBO's True Detective is one of the best TV performances I've ever seen, and it went on to gain him various big-time nominations. He got nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe Award.
When this crime-solving show first came out, people were blown away with how good it was. McConaughey had already proven to us he could act with his various roles over the years, but this film cemented him as one of the world's best. Hopefully we can see the return of McConaughey to True Detective in a future season, because there's no doubt he's the best thing to ever happen the show.
When Christoper Nolan comes knocking for you to star in the biggest block-buster of the year, you know you're in the top tier of actors in the world. I was ecstatic when I found out McConaughey got the lead role for his Nolan's sci-fi epic, Interstellar. This beautiful story about mankind's struggle with food resources put McConaughey in a terrific role, which really showcased his range, taking him through love, sadness, despair and hope.
Phase 6: Now and The Future...
2016 marked a mixed year for Matthew McConaughey. First we saw the release of The Free State of Jones which had all the ingredients for a fantastic film- an Academy Award winning actor, a brilliant supporting cast in Mahershala Ali (House of Cards) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion), not to mention a compelling director in Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscut). Unfortunately, The Free State of Jones turned out to be a "drab" if "robust" film that didn't quite resonate with fans, and it became one of 2016's biggest flops. Thankfully for McConaughey, he brought out more than one film in 2016 and that film just so happened to be one of my favorites of last year...
Kubo and The Two Strings didn't earn a ton of money in 2016, which is a travesty, considering how amazing the film is. The story of Kubo and his magical instrument trying to find his father's magical armour to protect his little village really moved me. This beautiful film was annoyingly overshadowed by such films like The Secret Life of Pets and other big studio productions. So if you haven't seen this film yet, support it by buying online or in store!
Next up on Matthew McConaughey's schedule is the exciting looking thriller: Gold. The story of an pair of men venturing to Indonesia in search of gold. This fantastic cast also includes Jurassic World's Bryce Dallas Howard and Ant-Man's Corey Stoll. I think this film will be decent, but it's his film coming out after this which really makes me excited...
The Dark Tower is the film that's on everybody's radar in 2017. Based on the book of the same name by Stephen King, this film has a lot of hype around it for being such a beloved story. It follows the story of Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) who is in search of the dark tower; he hopes by finding it, he can save the world. McConaughey is playing The Man in Black, and as you can see by the above picture, he looks badass!
So there you have it folks. Matthew McConaughey has had his ups and downs, but for now he still remains as one of the best actors in Hollywood who's immensely sought after. I've no doubt he's only going to get better and receive more Academy Awards or even play a superhero.
I'd love to know which of his films is your all-time favorite (even if it's a guilty pleasure). Let me know in the comments!