It was around 15 years ago, and Matthew McConaughey was in a rut. With box-office hits like The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past under his belt, McConaughey had enjoyed massive success in the romantic comedy world — so much success, in fact, that the more serious roles he wanted weren’t being offered to him.
‘I Was the Go-To Rom-Com Guy’
As the actor explained in an interview with AARP The Magazine, “I was the go-to rom-com guy.” He confessed, “I enjoyed making them, and they paid well. I was leading a successful life as an actor.”
“The romantic comedies remained my only consistent box office hits, which made them my only consistent incoming offers,” McConaughey wrote in his new memoir, “Greenlights”. “For me personally, I enjoyed being able to give people a nitty-minute breezy romantic getaway from the stress of their lives where they didn’t have to think about anything, just watch the boy chase the girl, fall down, then get up and finally get her. I had taken the baton from Hugh Grant, and I ran with it.”
But for the ambitious young actor, light, fluffy romantic leads — even ones opposite the beautiful Kate Hudson that came with multi-million-dollar paychecks — weren’t enough. “There’s a certain buoyancy built into rom-coms that isn’t about hanging your hat on humanity, like a drama is,” McConaughey said. “You stay light. If you go deep in a rom-com you can sink the ship.”
And McConaughey felt ready to go “deep”. “In my life,” he reflected, “I was going very deep. I found the love of my life in Camila. We had a newborn coming. I had more things to get angry about, laugh about, have more joy about, and be sad about. The ceilings and basements had more depth and height to them, and I wanted to do work that reflected my personal vitality.”
As Hollywood’s “go-to” rom-com hunk, McConaughey found he wasn’t able to land the dramatic roles he wanted — “no matter how much of a pay cut I would take”.
Matthew McConaughey Quits Acting
So he decided to quit acting — at least for a little while. “It was scary,” he admitted. “But Camila said, “If we’re going to do this, we’re not going to half-ass it.” Aside from his wife Camila, McConaughey found it difficult to convince people he was ready to remove on. “My family — my brothers, my mother, everybody — thought I was out of my freaking mind. They were like, “Little brother, what’s your major malfunction?” he remembered.
But the actor stood his ground, even turning down a $14.5 million rom-com role in 2010. “I declined the offer,” McConaughey wrote in Greenlights, as reported by IndieWire. “If I couldn’t do what I wanted, I wasn’t going to do what I didn’t, no matter the price.” During his acting hiatus time “Hollywood forgot about me”, the actor said. After nearly a year and a half of receiving no offers, McConaughey wondered if he would ever act again. “It pinched me a little, but I was OK with it,” he told AARP. “It was time for a new chapter in my life.”
But McConaughey’s commitment paid off. In 2011, the so-called “McConaissance” began with a series of character-driven projects like Lincoln Lawyer, Killer Joe, Bernie, Paperboy, Magic Mike, Mud, and True Detective. Then of course, in 2014, he took home the Oscar for Best Actor for his memorable performance in Dallas Buyers Club.
“I unbranded those two years to then rebrand,” he explained. “All of a sudden, I became a new, novel idea. The dramas came my way, and I jumped on them.” What’s next for the Oscar winner? He’s not sure, but knows that it will be “some sort of leadership position”. “I don’t know what that is yet,” he said. “Politics? Another book? A ministry?”
He continued, “The crux of it is to help others. We’re coming out of a time of limbo and evolving, as people and as a nation. We’ve got to come together and have some sort of unity — I think everyone can agree we can use that.”