The 50 Greatest Actors Alive: #45 – Matthew McConaughey
Things are starting to get interesting now, aren’t they? Especially considering what just happened last week. Until a few weeks ago, most of you will probably think of a slew of romantic comedies and sub-par action films of the 2000s like “How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days,” “The Wedding Planner,” and “Failure To Launch,” right? Absolutely, and I wouldn’t blame you. But if you can think a little further back in time, and remember the roles I remember him in, you’d have a different opinion of him; much like what everyone thinks of him now: as a very talented and gifted ACTOR. From comedies to dramas to sci-fi, this guy can do it all.
Before he fell into the rom-com abyss of the 2000s, Matthew McConaughey was already playing compelling roles in powerful films. The two roles from way back when (the 1990s) that stuck out immediately for me were his roles in “A Time to Kill” and “Amistad.” In “A Time to Kill” (which is an extremely underrated movie by all standards in my opinion) he played a young lawyer named Jake Brigance who was defending a black man (played by Samuel L. Jackson) who killed the two men who raped his 10-year old daughter that revitalized the town’s KKK community. Heavy shit… and even though this was 18 years ago, McConaughey nailed it.
In the amazing true story of “Amistad,” (which was directed by Steven Spielberg and nominated for 4 Oscars) he played Roger Sherman Baldwin, again-a lawyer who later became the 32nd governor of Connecticut. Once again, his performance was stellar.
Afterward, he fell off of the face of the earth for a bit. He reemerged inexplicably doing cheesy romantic comedies and tapped into his God-given Texas charm to win the hearts of Kate Hudson and Jennifer Lopez. Then, he fell off the face of the earth again, only to come back by getting arrested for being naked, drunk, and playing the bongos in his garage in the middle of the night. We all thought that his best acting days were behind him and even his career as a whole was in jeopardy.
A few subpar flicks later, nothing was really happening for McConaughey that warranted anything to be proud of. Then in 2008, a charming little movie called “Tropic Thunder” emerged and though his role in it was minor, it catapulted him back on the scene. It was good to see him again doing roles that challenged him and made him actually “act.”
Fast-forward to now and you wouldn’t believe what happened. All of the sudden he was cast in these critically acclaimed films and being recognized for being a badass. And not a Steven Segal kick, punch, mentally constipated bad ass, but bad ass characters written for him. Now, he just won his first Best Actor Oscar (and deservingly so) for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club” the true story about Ron Woodroof who is diagnosed with AIDS and has to fight a losing battle to get the proper treatment. McConaughey dropped nearly 50 pounds for the role and showed us all a range and ability that NOBODY SAW COMING!
Like Robert Downey Jr,. (but to a lesser extent in every sense of the comparison,) Matthew McConaughey was able to reignite his career by breaking the mold that Hollywood tried to bestow upon him without reason and deservingly make this list. I look forward to see what Matthew gives us in the future.