A couple of weeks ago, the newly creatively revitalized Matthew McConaughey hit the Cannes Film Festival with two movies to promote — Jeff Nichols‘ “Mud” and Lee Daniels‘ “The Paperboy.” While reviews on the former generally leaned toward the positive, the latter was something of a sensation, but for all the wrong reasons. Rounded savaged by critics — including a F grade from our man on the ground — Daniels’ film was considered trash by many, camp by some, but terrible by pretty much everyone who saw it, no matter how you slice it. And while McConaughey was briefly set to reunite with Daniels to play JFK in the director’s developing “The Butler,” another project is taking priority.
McConaughey is now focusing on getting the forever-developing AIDS drama “The Dallas Buyer’s Club” finally rolling in front of cameras. Given the subject matter, this one has been hard to get off the ground, and previous incarnations that would have seen Marc Forster direct Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling star for Craig Gillespie, failed to launch. But McConaughey kicked things back to life over a year ago, signing on star with Jean Marc-Vallée (“C.R.A.Z.Y.,” “The Young Victoria“) in the director’s chair. And now, McConaughey is working on the script with Vallée and hoping to get production started this fall.
At one point featuring a draft written by Guillermo Arriaga (“Babel,” “21 Grams“), the film is based on the true story of Ron Woodruff, a man who in 1986 was diagnosed with AIDS and given only months to live, strikes out and starts toying around with underground drugs not approved for use in the U.S. at the time. He would up living longer than expected and began getting these drugs in the hands of other AIDS sufferers as well. So yeah, in this climate, not exactly the kind of thing most people are lining up to throw money at. It’s a fact that McConaughey acknowedges, but he’s pressing on.
“It was very tough to get the money for that one, being the subject material and it’s a period piece,” McConaughey told 24 Frames. “We’ve been really, really close for a long time. We’ve been going back to getting a number that Jean-Marc felt like he could make it for and still give us the right creative license to tell it the way we need to. Sometimes they just happen. There’s momentum right now. Some things I’ve got going on are helping whoever’s financing, going, ‘Oh that’s a better idea now’ … We’re out-enduring some people because we’re staying on it.”
As for “The Butler,” McConaughey denies the horrible reviews put him off reteaming with Daniels, only to vaguely say, “But for certain true reasons, it’s not going to happen.” Nevertheless, Daniels has a ridiculous amount of talent lined up for his true story of a White House butler who witnesses decades of history come and go in the highest office in the land. Forest Whitaker, Davie Oyelowo, Nicole Kidman, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Alan Rickman, John Cusack, Minka Kelly and Lenny Kravitz are all set to star. No word yet if Kidman has to pee on anybody.