Hollywood loves a story of reinvention, and few can top the one by Matthew McConaughey, who began to be taken more seriously as an actor with a well-regarded turn in "The Lincoln Lawyer" nearly three years ago and kicked it into a different gear in 2013.
It wasn't long ago, of course, that McConaughey was more famous for his off-screen exploits than his film performances. Yet when the Oscar nominations were announced Thursday morning, there was McConaughey, a heralded lead actor nominee for his turn as homophobic AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in the best picture nominee "Dallas Buyers Club."
The moment capped an exceptional year for the 44-year-old actor. McConaughey has starred as a complicated loner in one of 2013's biggest specialty-film breakouts ("Mud"), had a scene-stealing turn as a take-no-prisoners stockbroker in one of the splashiest releases of the holiday season "("The Wolf of Wall Street"), finished shooting and received numerous accolades for Hollywood's most famously difficult script ("Dallas") and even added a much-buzzed-about turn in a new HBO show ("True Detective") that debuted last weekend.
"Today doesn't feel like as much of a bow on everything because it all feels like a process," the typically gregarious actor said. "It's more about 'C'mon McConaughey, commit to nothing but the character and look at the results that can happen.'"
McConaughey said the all-at-once aspect wasn't exactly by design — after all, "Mud" at one time was slated to come out in 2012, "Wolf" looked for a while like it could get pushed to 2014 and "True Detective" was at one point slated for March. And "Dallas," well, it nearly didn't happen at all. The film itself took 20 years to reach the screen, its development trail littered with failed attempts from top stars such as Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling.
In that sense, the victory for McConaughey happened long before the names were read out at academy headquarters. "My vigor is more of a personal one with the 'Dallas Buyers Club' story and the reward of just getting it made," he said.
Still, the finished product and the accolades that come with it offer a new kind of validation. "We knew we had the potential but no guarantee," he said. "A lot of people make movies with the sole intent that it should a winter-ball awards film, and that doesn't mean there's either import or entertainment value."
After his crowd-winning Golden Globes appearance Sunday ("Alright, alright, alright") could he top it at the Oscars? Perhaps with, say, a reenacted bit from his drug-fueled, New Age-flavored "Wolf of Wall Street" scene? (He said passersby have already engaged in a kind of primordial communiqué with him in which they'll make eye contact, beat their chests, start chanting and hope for him to do the same back.)
McConaughey 2.0 also means viewers will see him in different guises. He recently finished shooting, for example, the lead part in Christopher Nolan's upcoming "Interstellar." And already the Woodroof character allowed him to pushed his Texas cowboy to darker and more redemptive places, while "True Detective" shows him as a morbidly poetic cop who's an even further cry from the suave on-screen player charming the ladies. As he said of his TV presence Sunday night: "That must have been some juxtaposition, me smiling at the Globes and then not smiling on HBO."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times