When we sat down with Matthew McConaughey last November, he looked scarily thin. He’d lost 38 pounds to prep for passion project “The Dallas Buyer’s Club,” about a straight man fighting HIV who becomes a dealer in unapproved drugs to stave off AIDS. (The film just landed a distributor.) The actor was fasting and subsisting on a diet of fresh fish and a daily glass of red wine. He was down from 182 to 143 pounds as he was just about to start filming. The actor talked about his new approach to choosing roles, from Cannes entry “Mud,” which opens Friday, to a bunch of well-reviewed 2012 indie films. (Flip cam video below.)
There was “Bernie,” directed by Richard Linklater, the Texas director who broke him into movies with “Dazed and Confused,” as well as “Killer Joe,” directed by William Friedkin, the husband of McConaughey’s long-time studio champion, Paramount’s Sherry Lansing. Two high-profile dramas played Cannes; the actor went gay in Lee Daniels’ steamy gothic “Paperboy,” and played a sweet “puppy dog” in love in Jeff Nichols’ “Mud.”
McConaughey’s highest profile role came via the prolific Steven Soderbergh, who called him up to see if he’d be willing to bump and grind as Dallas, the owner of a male strip club in “Magic Mike.” (One-time stripper Channing Tatum stars as one of his top performers.) Indeed, McConaughey’s role as a seductive, smarmy and dangerous Svengali in “Magic Mike” was the most daring of the wide range of roles he’s been playing. Right now, McConaughey says, admitting that there’s “been a shift” in his approach to picking projects, he is most interested in taking chances, feeling “that good fear” about challenging roles, and “expressing myself. I’m not asking for permission. I’m going to do my thing.”
Upcoming projects are equally varied, from Martin Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street” to HBO’s “True Detectives,” directed by Cary Fukunaga (“Jane Eyre”), which McConaughey and long-time “Ed TV” buddy Woody Harrelson have been pushing forward. That shoots in January. And I hope McConaughey gets the terrific ‘”Lincoln Lawyer” relaunched–on TV if not the movies. Right now he’s chasing the right co-star to add some marquee value to a film sequel.