Few actors have had as versatile of a career as Matthew McConaughey has. The 48-year-old Texas native's various roles have included a fugitive, stripper, beetle, astronaut and AIDS victim. There once was a time when romantic comedy leading man was his predominant title, and when asked about it years later, the actor still thinks fondly on his heartthrob days. In his words:
It was fun, it was great pay and I learned that, you know what, these are not the type of movies to dig deep [within one's own experience]. They were 'Saturday characters.' I remember saying, 'I'm gonna give myself another Saturday!' They were fun. The pay was great. I was looking forward to them. I enjoyed going to work... I was also living on a beach and going out without my shirt on, just like I did before I was famous. I was living a romantic comedy.
Not bad, Matthew McConaughey. It sounds like that era was as picture perfect for him as one might think! After the actor found his breakout role in Dazed and Confused in 1993, the actor consistently found a place on the big screen, working with a number of masterful directors early in his career including Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and Ron Howard. When he signed on to 2001's The Wedding Planner alongside Jennifer Lopez, it was the beginning of a particular era full of rom-coms that he suddenly became best known for.
These movies, such as How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, didn't have the actor complaining. These were his bachelor days, the money was rolling in and he enjoyed what he was doing. In his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Matthew McConaughey said his perspective changed after he married his wife Camila Alves and had his first child in 2008. He continued with:
I did become conscious of it. It looked like that's what I was doing 24/7. So I was like, 'I'm not gonna feed that.' My life was becoming very vital and exciting and dreams were coming true and things were new and scary and wow. Then I looked at my career and I was like, 'Eh, doesn't seem as exciting, doesn't seem as fresh, doesn't seem as dangerous. I feel like I'm loving harder and laughing harder and crying harder in real life than I'm getting to do in my work.
The actor wanted to break out from the "guy gets the girl" story he had explored time and time again for the decade. He said he "unbranded" and deliberately started turning down all he was being offered, more rom-coms and action comedies. He didn't return to the big screen until 2011 for The Lincoln Lawyer, thus beginning his career comeback, the "McConaissance." He did a string of indie hits, Killer Joe, The Paperboy and Mud, before strutting into his most highly-acclaimed works Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street and HBO's True Detective. His most celebrated era ended with his Best Actor Oscar win as a 47-pound lighter man dying from AIDS in Buyers Club.
Everyone loves a comeback story, and while in Matthew McConaughey's case, he could have likely thrived where he was for quite some time, he didn't allow himself be complacent in where he was. He didn't and his career has benefitted ten-fold from it. Since his Oscar win, the actor has had a few bumps in the road with some recent box office bombs, but he's now back in conversation with his recent performance in White Boy Rick. The actor certainly has held our attention over his 25-year career and may have more tricks in the bag we have yet to see.