Matthew McConaughey is one of those actors who it seems has done it all. From serious dramas to Oscar winning roles. He's done action movies and romantic comedies. He's an actor who seems to have largely avoided being locked into a particular type of film role, though it seems that's not from lack of trying on the part of the studios. Matthew McConaughey recently revealed that he made a concerted effort to separate himself from the sort of roles he was known for around 2008, but he left a lot of money on the table to do it.
Matthew McConaughey recently spoke at A+E's HISTORYTalks at Carnegie Hall in NYC (via THR) where he explained that following the birth of his son, he decided to undergo an "un-branding" process. While he had enjoyed and found success in the romantic comedy genre, he wanted to get away from them. However, shortly after making the break, he got an offer for another film of that type, that really didn't want to take no for an answer. According to McConaughey...
And at that time I got an offer for a romantic comedy, and it was for a very sizable number, and I read it and they came back and bumped that number up quite a bit, and I passed, and they came back and bumped it again, I passed. They bumped it up and basically doubled the opening offer, and I said let me read this script again. It was the same words, but I promise you that script was superior to the first one. I said no, and I had 18 months of being gone.
Getting a generous offer that then gets doubled I'm sure makes any script look more attractive, but in the end, whatever this movie was, either didn't end of happening, or went forward with somebody else in the lead, who probably didn't get paid quite as well.
2009 saw the release of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, from Matthew McConaughey and he would not be seen again on the big screen until 2011's The Lincoln Lawyer. Since then, we haven't seen the actor do one of those successful rom-coms that had been big hits for him previously, but he does have an Academy Award, which is probably worth the trade.
It's sort of funny that Matthew McConaughey became the lighthearted rom-com guy considering the movie that brought him to the attention of most audiences was 1996's A Time to Kill, a serious dramatic role. It seems he wanted to get back to that and so his brief hiatus from the screen was designed to remove the more stereotyped view of him from the minds of both Hollywood and the public. In the end the strategy paid off...
That anonymity, that being away, that not being the shirtless guy on the beach in a rom-com, by un-branding, then all of a sudden things came to me that I had been wanting to do. Dramatic roles that I had been pursuing were coming my way.
Ultimately, Matthew McConaughey says he just wants to play great characters and tell great stories. Now that's successfully shed the label of the "shirtless guy" maybe we'll see him play those rom-com rolls again down the road.