Matthew McConaughey Reveals How His Late Father Shaped Lead Role in 'Gold'

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Matthew McConaughey

Director Stephen Gaghan premiered his first film in more than a decade in New York on Tuesday night, where he was joined by cast members Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard and Corey Stoll.

Matthew McConaughey’s father, who owned a gas station and an oil pipe supply business, died of a heart attack 24 years ago, before his son had even appeared in a film. While accepting his 2014 Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey suggested that his father was in heaven “probably in his underwear, and he’s got a cold can of Miller Lite and he’s dancing right now.” On the red carpet at Tuesday’s world premiere of Gold — hosted by TWC-Dimension and sponsored by Popular Mechanics and Wild Turkey Bourbon, which counts McConaughey as a creative director — the actor told The Hollywood Reporter how memories of his father helped him craft this character, his third gold seeker on screen, after playing one in Sahara and Fool’s Gold.

“There was parts of him that I observed and parts of him — his dealings with some people doing some shady deals — that were very Kenny Wells,” said McConaughey, who stars as Wells and made the decision to gain 45 pounds for the role. “Like taking me for a ride to go buy a hot Rolex watch the day before Christmas — when we were supposed to be getting stocking stuffers — from a guy named Chicago John, in a white van parked behind an abandoned shopping mall with downed power lines between the Dumpsters, [that my dad] paid $3,000 for because he thought it was worth $22,000. And it was probably worth $200. But it didn’t matter. It was the deal. It was, 'How much fun is this?'"

Director Stephen Gaghan, who likened Wells to an '80s-era Willy Loman, was buoyant with reporters, even while recapping Gold’s many production challenges, ranging from a “once-in-a-generation flood” that destroyed most of their sets in Thailand to indigenous giant spiders that accosted the crew.

Similarly, Patrick Massett, who co-wrote the script with his Lara Croft: Tomb Raider partner John Zinman, looked back on how far their screenplay had come. “We went out and pitched it and nobody believed it or liked it or got it or thought we could write it or whatever,” said Massett. Eventually, the duo wrote the script on spec for director and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis (a Gold executive producer, with Ben Stillman and Bob Weinstein, who introduced the screening at AMC Loews Lincoln Square). Haggis sent the script to Michael Mann, the first person to sign on as director (Spike Lee later came onboard before Gaghan — a fellow Oscar-winning screenwriter who last directed 2005’s Syriana — took the job). “It’s frustrating. You’re at the 1-yard line and then your director falls out, and you’re back to zero,” said Zinman. “But it is nice that other people raised their hand and wanted to do it.”

After the final credits, the filmmakers and their families joined guests including Lena Hall and John Varvatos for an after party at The Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court. Golden pineapple juice cocktails were served, natch, while a DJ spun tunes by James Brown, Annie Lennox and The Rolling Stones.

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