Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Matthew McConaughey Talks "Behaving, Not Acting" in 'Dallas Buyers Club' UPDATED (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 3, 2013 at 4:47PM

The last time I sat down with Gotham Best Actor-winner Matthew McConaughey, almost a year ago, he looked scarily thin. He'd lost 38 pounds to prep for passion project "The Dallas Buyer's Club," about a straight man fighting HIV who becomes a dealer in unapproved drugs to stave off AIDS. The actor was fasting and subsisting on a diet of fresh fish and a daily glass of red wine. He was down from 182 to 143 pounds as he was just about to start filming. In our latest exclusive video interview, McConaughey talks about his new approach to choosing roles, which has yielded a rich panoply of films with top directors. One reason he'll be in the Oscar conversation for Best Actor for "Dallas Buyer's Club" is that he's overdue, and his comeback has been noted.
2
Matthew McConaughey

The last time I sat down with Gotham Best Actor-winner Matthew McConaughey, almost a year ago, he looked scarily thin. He'd lost 38 pounds to prep for passion project "The Dallas Buyer's Club," about a straight man fighting HIV who becomes a dealer in unapproved drugs to stave off AIDS. The actor was fasting and subsisting on a diet of fresh fish and a daily glass of red wine. He was down from 182 to 143 pounds as he was just about to start filming. 

Matthew McConaughey in "Dallas Buyers Club"
Matthew McConaughey in "Dallas Buyers Club"

Now his weight is up and he's doing interviews for the Focus Features hit based on a true 1987 story. "Dallas Buyers Club" focuses on a heterosexual man with AIDs, Ron Woodruff. "He's not a crusader, he's not waving a white flag, he's a businessman trying to get rich and trying to survive himself," says McConaughey. "In doing that he's fighting the powers that be, he's an activist, 'You gotta allow us to medicate ourselves.'" 

His performance in "Dallas Buyer's Club" is extraordinary for its honesty and understanding of an American archetype Texas-born McConaughey knows well. For him, performing a role is "about behaving, not acting." (McConaughey dominated this year's Hollywood Reporter actors' roundtable.) 

McConaughey and I talk about his new approach to choosing roles, which has yielded a rich panoply of films with top directors. One reason he'll be in the Oscar conversation for Best Actor for "Dallas Buyer's Club" is that he's overdue, and his comeback has been noted. His 2013 output comes after the extraordinary batch of movies he did in 2012. 

There was "Bernie," directed by Richard Linklater, the Texas director who broke him into movies with "Dazed and Confused," as well as Tracy Letts' adaptation of colorful drama "Killer Joe," directed by William Friedkin, the husband of McConaughey's long-time studio champion, Paramount's Sherry Lansing. Two high-profile dramas played Cannes; the actor went gay in Lee Daniels' steamy gothic "Paperboy," and played a sweet "puppy dog" in love in Jeff Nichols' exquisitely written "Mud," among the first screeners to hit Academy mail boxes this awards season. 

Matthew McConaughey in 'Mud'
Matthew McConaughey in 'Mud'

McConaughey's highest profile 2012 role came via the prolific Steven Soderbergh, who called him up to see if he'd be willing to bump and grind as Dallas, the owner of a male strip club in "Magic Mike." (One-time stripper Channing Tatum starred as one of his top performers.) McConaughey's role as a seductive, smarmy and dangerous Svengali in "Magic Mike" was the most improvisatory of the wide range of roles he's been playing, and it won him an Indie Spirit award earlier this year. Right now, McConaughey says, admitting that there's "been a shift" in his approach to picking projects, he is most interested in taking chances, feeling "that good fear" about challenging roles, and "expressing myself. I'm not asking for permission. I'm going to do my thing."

Still to come are projects with equally varied roles, from Mark Hanna in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" (December 25) which is finally screening and Chris Nolan's "Interstellar," co-starring Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, and Anne Hathaway, to HBO's "True Detectives," directed by Cary Fukunaga ("Jane Eyre"), which McConaughey and long-time "Ed TV" buddy Woody Harrelson have been pushing forward. That airs in 2014. And I hope McConaughey gets the terrific '"Lincoln Lawyer" relaunched--on TV if not the movies. Right now he's chasing the right co-star to add some marquee value to a film sequel.



This article is related to: Interviews, Interviews , Interviews, Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club, Awards Season Roundup, Video, Video, indieWIRE Video


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.