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A Lindsay Campbell Pop-Ed: The Evolution of Matthew McConaughey


“Alright, alright, alright!” This is a direct quote from Matthew McConaughey’s character in Magic Mike, but it pretty much sums up how I feel about him as an actor. He’s OK. He’s not good, but he sure can deliver any charming line with that Texas accent of his. His career has escalated from cheesy rom-com moron to inspirational football coach to drug-smuggling HIV patient. This all leads me to believe that McConaughey is indeed evolving as an actor, and it’s starting to show in the best of ways. 

Audiences first fell in love with McConaughey as David Wooderson in the 1993 classic film Dazed and Confused. This role, in my opinion, was the role that got him sucked into every other terrible rom-com he’s been in. It’s a typecasted character that’s hard to break, good looking but extremely dumb. Sound like any of his other roles? I thought so too. This became McConaughey's comfort zone and who can blame him for sticking there?



Regardless, with movies like The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch and Fool’s Gold on his résumé, it’s hard to remember to take this guy seriously. Sure these movies are scattered throughout McConaughey's career, but when they’re on TBS every single Saturday, I can’t look past them. It’s a sight I just cannot unsee.



McConaughey has taken on the more serious roles before. In his earlier years of acting, he took the lead, opposite Sandra Bullock, in A Time to Kill. It was early in his career, but one could argue that it served as a benchmark of the roles he might be able to capture. McConaughey's career evolved as we watched him branch out and take roles in movies like Lincoln Lawyer, but it still wasn’t anything groundbreaking. My guess is that audiences were still a bit tainted by the roles of McConaughey’s past.



The real peak of his more serious career has only just started to come to fruition in the past two or three years. If we leave out Magic Mike, McConaughey has landed some pretty strong roles in much more dramatic films.

Mud got some positive attention, as did Paperboy, but neither film scored him the serious acclaim and cred he was looking for. It’s Dallas Buyers Club that will be the jumping off point for McConaughey.

In this film, he plays the coke-addicted, gambling-loving cowboy Ron Woodroof, who is diagnosed with HIV. Upon receiving this news, Woodroof works around the health care system to help other AIDS patients get medication not yet approved by the United States from around the world.

When I saw Dallas Buyers Club this week, I was in complete shock that I was actually watching the Matthew McConaughey that was previously paired up with Jennifer Garner for Ghosts of Girlfriends past. (Don’t add that to your Netflix queue anytime soon.) The palpable on-air chemistry between McConaughey and Garner in Dallas Buyers Club brought the story to life. McConaughey blew me away with this performance. It was a heart-wrenching role filled with so many emotions and stages in a man’s life that he captured perfectly. This was the performance that showcased why even after all of his box office duds, he’s one to watch. Once he starts ignoring the Hollywood suitors looking to cast him as the romantic lead, McConaughey’ll have a career that will take him places.

McConaughey will be back in theaters with The Wolf of Wall Street, where he plays Mark Hanna, the former mentor to Leonardo Dicaprio's character. The epic cast and award nods for The Wolf of Wall Street are a promising start, so we’ll see how McConaughey fits in with a real pool of blockbuster talent (no offense, Jennifer Garner).

If we don’t see McConaughey get an Oscar nod this season, it would be a disappointment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him nominated within the next few years. Next on his agenda is a Christopher Nolan film called Interstellar, which has an all-star cast. I’m not sure we’ll see any awards when this comes out, but at least Kate Hudson isn’t in it.

Side note: While this wasn’t a review of Dallas Buyers Club, I do highly recommend everyone see it. Jared Leto pulled off a performance that will land him front row seats throughout awards season.
A Lindsay Campbell Pop-Ed: The Evolution of Matthew McConaughey Reviewed by Lindsay Campbell on 12/13/2013 Rating: 5

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