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Recipe for a Successful Cinematheque Ball: Matthew McConaughey

Recipe for a Successful Cinematheque Ball: Matthew McConaughey

The good ones come when there’s not only a big new Oscar-hungry picture to promote–in this case, Paramount pulled out the stops for “Interstellar” (November 5) which has just started screening–but a talent with friends who genuinely like them. 

1. Star who Inspires Affection
Then what you get in the room is a sense of genuine admiration and bonhomie. That was present in spades with Matthew McConaughey Tuesday night at the Beverly Hilton, as the star slugged beer form the bottle watching the accolades– and ribs– pour in. 

Early in the evening his “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” co-star Kate Hudson, with pink-streaked hair and a shimmering strapless bronze gown, ran up to the rail next to McConaughey’s table. The bearded star hastened to lean over and kiss her while they caught up with obvious warmth. Up on stage Hudson gave the best rip-roaring McConaughey imitation of the night, describing him standing stark naked in the dark woods outside her parents’ back-country cabin, braying at the moon. He’s passionate and authentic,” she said, and demands that of his co-stars as well.

Other colorful stories abounded, including some from McConaughey himself. “Don’t half-ass it,” his father told him when he faced up to telling him he wanted to go to film school, not law school. 

When McConaughey met Joel Schumacher for a bit part in “A Time to Kill,” he told him he wanted to play the lead, which led to him landing the role. During his interview for “edtv,” he slurped up spilled coke in Brian Grazer’s office. He and Ron Howard realized he was funny and he was hired. 

Memorable videos included a heartfelt rhyming poem read by “A Time to Kill” star Sandra Bullock, who called McConaughey “family,” as well as an hilarious piece featuring “EdTV” and “True Detective” co-star Woody Harrelson riding a bicycle, stopped by a bullfrog. No one laughed harder than McConaughey. 

2. Studio backer
Paramount was willing to go all the way with the Cinematheque to present their star and movie in the best possible light in front of an industry crowd packed with Academy voters. Paramount chief Brad Grey and production head Adam Goodman were pressing the flesh. Nolan’s usual home studio Warner Bros. and McConaughey sponsor Lincoln were also on hand. 

3. Oscar race potential
While McConaughey is in the midst of his “McConaissance” and just won the Oscar for “Dallas Buyers’ Club”–conferring a heat and cred that allowed him to be a tributee at the relatively young age of 42–he was able to lure others with Oscars in their sights.

“Interstellar” director Christopher Nolan wasn’t telling jokes when he introed McConaughey, saying: “I find him extremely serious. I’ve never worked with an actor so relentless in his pursuit of truth. He’s the emotional conduit for the audience.”

McConaughey admitted he was relentless about prepping for roles after learning early on that “you have to prepare, you have to study, you have to do the work.”  Finally he said, making movies is “a business when ideas become tangible. It’s a magic trick we do. We make you believe.”

Co-star Anne Hathaway was admiring, from afar and up close, while Jessica Chastain said, “What you see is what you get. I’m lucky I get to star with you in ‘Interstellar.’ You are the heart of the movie.”

Also on hand was his “Mud” costar Reese Witherspoon, whose own Oscar bid for “Wild” is coming up. She described McConaughey’s “contagious joy.” He does what he does “on purpose,” she said.

“Dazed and Confused” director Richard Linklater, who discovered McConaughey and watched him transform into David Wooderson, sent a video. (He has “Boyhood” in the Oscar race.) “He’s a character actor,” he said, “sometimes trapped in a leading man’s body.”

Or to put it another way, quipped host Jimmy Kimmel: “He’s not just a pretty face, he’s also a hot body,”  

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