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Honor Roll 2012: Matthew McConaughey Wants a Viagra Study, Has an 18 Handicap and Thinks You've Got to "Enjoy the Architecture"

Photo of Jay A. Fernandez By Jay A. Fernandez | Indiewire December 6, 2012 at 5:05PM

For a while there, it looked as if Matthew McConaughey would never shake his on-screen image as the stoned, shirtless, good ol’ boy who mugged through Southern-fried thrillers and C-grade rom coms. But 2012 finally stuck a pin in all that as the 43-year-old Texas-born star stretched in every way he could across five films that showed his range and, for the first time, sparked discussion of awards consideration.
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You’ve done your share of studio movies and tiny independents. Has your approach to choosing why you would choose a role in an independent film changed over the last twenty years?

Somewhat. Number one, when you start shooting, when you’re in production, independent filming is, by far, my choice. Because you don’t have a big budget, so you don’t have time to be precious with so many things that you have time to be precious with on larger-budget films. What I mean by that is, independent film, you’re already up against the 8-ball before you start. The hardest part about independent film and getting the damn thing made is getting it financed and actually shooting on the first day. Then, you’re off to the races. You show up to work in the morning, you show up to set, 7:30 am, and you don’t leave the set until you wrap that day. Now, I personally like that. I like being tired at the end of the day because we shot five pages. I like that much more than I like shooting a page and a half, and you shot a scene and went back to your trailer for an hour and a half.

Mud
I honestly don’t know how you guys do that. Obviously there are a lot of great perks to your job, but how do you stay sharp when you spend half of your day sitting around and waiting?

It’s a real challenge, the constant entry and reentry and exit and reentry. The art you gotta learn when you’ve been doing it for a while is the anticipation, the getting-ready, for: “Okay, we’re calling you back to set.” Let me give you an example. “Okay, we’re setting up the shot, 45-minute break.” If I’ve got 45 minutes, I’m going to go to my trailer. I’m not going to stay in character for 45 minutes. I’m going to go back, I’m going to look at the newspaper, I might take a phone call. About fifteen minutes before those 45 minutes are up, I start getting back into my man. As we’re just about ready — I know when I’ve peaked, I know when I’ve touched the point where I’m relaxed — there’s a knock on the door that says, “Um, sorry, we need another 30 minutes.”

I don’t know how you do it. Nobody could do his best work in that format.

I love the game of golf. It’s a little bit like the game of golf. If you look at the game of golf, say a round takes five hours, all right? But how much of those five hours are you actually taking a club back, swinging through and hitting a shot? Maybe 3%.

Speaking of which, what’s your handicap?

Oh, I’m like an 18 now. I haven’t picked up a golf club… I used to be a 4 in high school. I’m an 18 now. It’s way, way under the surface. I get it for, like, six-hole spurts, and then I just start tripling and quad-ing and everything else. And you wonder where it went.

That’s what happens when you have kids, too — you can’t get out on the course as much.

The other thing that happens when you have a family is you’ve really got to pick your hobbies — or hobby. If you used to watch football on Saturday and Sunday, guess what? That’s not happening anymore. You end up going, “I’m going to pick my one game.” [laughs]

And what’s terrible about that is that when the game sucks, you feel like, “Aw, I put everything, all my attention into this.” I do that with film screenings. Because I want to come home, I want to be with my wife and my kids, I’ll go, “I’m going to see a screening once a week.” And if I don’t enjoy the movie, I’m infuriated. It’s like, “Man, that was my one shot!”

Man, I’m telling you, I like watching films, but I have had two bad film theater experiences, where I actually say, “I’m heading out, getting in the car, I’m driving to the theater, I’m gonna go in and watch the movie and then I’m going to come home.” It’s basically a little over three hours door-to-door. If I have a bad experience, I am truly pissed off. If you get screwed out of three hours, and you got took? You’re like: “Oh, you son of a bitch.” It’s true.

"Bernie"
Millennium Entertainment "Bernie"
It’s entirely likely that some of these films and some of your performances are part of the awards discussion. What’s your sense of awards campaigning? How do you approach that, when you start getting asked to do events and things that you know are geared toward an awards-campaign context?

I’ve got some thoughts. I got flown to L.A. to do some campaigning for being a contender for the role of Dallas in “Magic Mike.” I flew to L.A. last week for one day; I’ve never done that before. I’ve never been asked to do that before. So this is really my first foray into it. They’re telling me I’m a contender now. I suppose after that, if someone gets to the next stage and you actually get to be one of the nominated actors for best actor or supporting actor, whatever, then I think it becomes a real, full-on: OK, this could take the next few months, this is what you do.

Right, this becomes your job.

The good thing about it is, the work that I did, the roles that we’ve talked about, the year that I had, is the reason for the conversation we’re having right now. That is actually very relaxing, because most of the press — even with the junket for a movie — 60% of it is, “So how’s your wife?” And you either answer it, or you’re like, “None of your business.” But you’re not having to deflect personal questions or gossipy things. You’re actually in because the work you did is front and center, and I get to respond to that work and keep to what I do as a career. That’s kind of relaxing. I could talk to you about the films I did last year for five hours and not get exhausted.

Hey, so how is your wife?

Exactly.

This article is related to: Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike, The Paperboy, Mud, Killer Joe, Bernie, Honor Roll 2012, Interviews, Awards





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