By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist August 5, 2011 at 8:53AM
Are we witnessing the renaissance of Matthew McConaughey? That would certainly appear to be the case. The actor seemed to be stuck in a rut of terrible rom-coms (see every movie he did with Kate Hudson) and failed tentpoles ("Sahara"), and we wondered what happened to the actor who charmed us in "Dazed & Confused" and impressed in "A Time To Kill." Well, the actor woke up one morning and decided to line up an array of solid film projects. This year has already seen "The Lincoln Lawyer" become a sleeper hit and favorite with critics and he's been busy lining up auteur-driven projects with Richard Linklater's "Bernie," William Friedkin's "Killer Joe" and Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" all coming. And now he's throwing his weight behind one of the best young American directors working right now.
This afternoon it was announced that "Shotgun Stories" and "Take Shelter" director Jeff Nichols was moving ahead with his third film, "Mud," and had McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon (easily the best choice she's made since "Walk the Line") taking on the lead roles. The film follows the story of an unlikely friendship between a fugitive (McConaughey) and a 14-year-old boy (to be played by "The Tree of Life" star Tye Sheridan) who helps him escape off an island in Mississippi, evade the law and bounty hunters, and reunite him with his sweetheart Juniper (Witherspoon).
Chris Pine was rumored for the lead this spring, but clearly that didn't pan out. No word yet on when this will lens, but it probably won't roll until McConaughey wraps "The Paperboy" which should start shooting soon. While a return trip to Cannes might be nice -- Nichols' "Take Shelter" won the Critic's Week Grand Prize and SACD award this year -- the timing likely won't work, but TIFF in 2012? It's a possibility.