Matthew Mcconaughey Curated
American actor and producer
CURATED BY :
What were your first thoughts when you read the script of the Dallas Buyers Club?
I remember writing down that thing's got fangs. Fangs! I thought it was an incredible character-driven story. There was this guy who had a seventh-grade education, was a two-bit cowboy, bull-riding electrician, hell-raising womanizer, heterosexual, who gets HIV, has 30 days to live, and within seven years, becomes an absolute scientist of HIV and the other pathogens. A guy with that education, from that background who goes on his own and does research and knows as much or more about the disease than a lot of the doctors did — I thought that was a great story.
Did you notice things turning around with "Tropic Thunder?"
"Tropic Thunder" was a different kind of comedic role. It was fun to play a character, and not caricature it. It's not me being funny. It's playing a character and hopefully, it's funny. My character in "Tropic Thunder" was fictitious, but they say he was based on a real guy. So it was fun playing with the imagination of creating a character like that.
In the past few years, critics have been kinder to you. Are you doing anything differently?
I'm going for more experience. I've wanted to pick some things out that scare me a little bit, things I'm not sure what I'm gonna do with it, but that I can't get off my mind.
You lost all that weight under the care of nutritionists, but what were you eating when you got down to 135 in Dallas Buyers Club?
More than you'd think. I was eating pretty damn healthy, just small amounts. I was eating 5 ounces of fish for lunch, with a cup of vegetables, 5 ounces of fish for dinner. And a wild thing happened. My body got the message that I wasn't gonna feed it anymore [food], and it felt like it was losing weight on its own. Because once I got to the weight that I wanted to get to, I started eating more, to plateau out, and my body still wanted to keep losing weight.
Did you have a plan B if acting hadn’t worked out?
I was heading towards law school and life as a criminal defense lawyer. Luckily, I wasn’t sleeping so well with that idea and woke up and changed my course. Now I can play a lawyer in a movie for three months and then quit, which is much better than being one for a lifetime.
There is a scene in Interstellar where you see your kids for the first time after many years. How many takes did that scene take?
Could you have done Interstellar without being a parent in real life?
How does a director like Christopher Nolan help you make a better version of yourself?
You've played the role of a lawyer. Did you want to be a lawyer at some point in your career?
As you have played a role in the movie "The Gentlemen". How would you describe a gentleman?
In your early life, you weren't a kid who set out to be an actor. So, how did you end up being an actor?
Was there someone who showed you the ropes when you first got into Hollywood?
How fatherhood changed or deepened your acting
How does it feel to be a part of the Dallas Buyers Club?
Is it more difficult for an actor to gain weight for a role or to lose it?
You’ve said in interviews that you made a conscious decision to step back and focus on your personal life. Do you think that’s why films such as Paperboy and Killer Joe came to you?
There’s a science to it somehow, but I don’t know the equation. Honestly, I didn’t have things that I was grabbing ahold of. The career was going fine. Enjoyed what I was doing. But I was like, “Let’s spice things up a little.” Look, the message did get out. I could tell because there were certain things I would say no to, and then they just quit sending those things. So it went from, “Let’s not send him what we think he’s going to say no to,” to “OK, we get it.” Then there was nothing; (I was) not asked to do anything. Somewhere from there to the next eight months, I became a good idea for these things.
In addition to physically preparing for the role in Dallas Buyers Club, what other kinds of research did you do?
I went down and talked to (Woodroof’s) daughter and his sister, spent time with them. And I did some research on the other drugs that Ron was (getting). I found all these stories of the different drugs he tried to smuggle and the way he smuggled. He was finding loopholes in laws—there were endless amounts of those stories. When I got his diary, that was the big secret weapon because then I got to see what was going through his mind when he was alone at night. A Thursday evening, looking at his budget, it was like, “I went $3.00 over on my gas this weekend. I have that appointment Tuesday to wire that guy’s stereo. That should get me $40 bucks.” And then I’d read on and see, “Oh, that got cancelled.” He was living paycheck to paycheck, week to week. I saw a guy who was lonely—this was before he had HIV—I saw a guy who wanted to get out. The ironic thing is when he got HIV, he found something to really fight for. His sister said this five times: “He never finishes anything.” So he found the one thing he could finish (in) getting sick.
What compelled you to help get Dallas Buyers Club produced?
It was something that I had on my desk that I was trying to do for a while, but it wasn’t popular enough for anyone to come up with the money. So we were like, “Let’s find the right team.” The more pieces you put in place, the more you show somebody that you’ve got a full package, then it becomes a more viable situation to get the money. And (director) Jean-Marc (Vallee) and I were locked, and we’re like, “Let’s set a date and do this thing this year.” We had Jared (Leto) and Jennifer (Garner) cast, and we budgeted for a lot less than Jean-Marc thought he could make it for. A week before the shoot, Jean-Marc calls me and says, “This is just not enough money to make this. We don’t have it, and we shoot in a week. (But) I’ll be there if you’ll be there.” I was like, “Yeah.” I had been losing the weight, and then I kept hearing “This is not happening.” And I was like, “This is happening.” Then that last bit of money came like a wave.
What was your role as a producer on the ''Surfer Dude'' film?
A little bit of everything. The main role of a producer is to balance a couple of things. You’ve got to help the director tell the story and you’ve got to be aware of the finances. You are responsible for knowing that it’s not free to play in that sandbox you’re playing in. You have a budget and time constraints. With that comes a lot of decision making. I had a lot of decisions to make daily. It was either about this shot or that shot, because we’ve got 15 minutes to get one, and can’t get both. I’ve got to make a money decision because the clock is ticking. Production was 28 days and postproduction about eight or nine months of more financial decision making. A lot of times, it’s “no's” and “yes's.”
You have experienced Hollywood on many levels. Can you remember a time when you shunned big money for a certain project, or have you experienced financial problems on any level?
I would say “Surfer, Dude” would be the closest to experiencing financial difficulty. There have been some things, though, that came across my plate and as an actor, that I didn’t want to do. But then, they were all for more money than I had ever seen before in my life. There were a few things that I was like, “No, I don’t think I’ll do that no matter what the number is.” Sometimes things got big sponsorship or financing, and that money made me say, “Let me re-read this.” So I guess everyone does have his or her price.
How do you live your life?
It’s really fun and interesting for me to go, Okay, project forward and look back at your eulogy. What will they say to your eulogy? Can I live a life where I can look forward to looking back?"
Were you seeking a transition in your career?
I was conscious of it to a degree. When you’re growing up, you make choices not necessarily by what you want to do, but by eliminating what you don’t want to do. And then you grow up, you mature, and you become aware of what you want. You choose those things and you go after those things, whether it’s a woman, a job, you name it. The career change goes back to the process of elimination. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I knew what I didn’t want to do. I asked myself, Are you ready, Matthew? And I spoke a lot to my wife about this too, of course—if you say no to a lot of the things you’ve been saying yes to, it’s probably going to get dry for a little while. Are you ready to go without work for however long? I was starting a family—that was first on my mind. I had a new job, being a father. I love that and it kept me sane because I love to work. And I said no to a lot of roles. It took about eighteen months for Hollywood to really get the message.