How Matthew McConaughey Changed the Narrative of His Career (Guest Column)

Ruven Afanador
Matthew McConaughey

"Mud" producer Lisa Maria Falcone on the 44-year-old actor's turn from rom-com lead to acting tour de force: "I see this intensity in his eyes, you know this guy is going to kill it."


A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 3, 2014, issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Lisa Maria Falcone, the Mud producer, describes how the 44-year-old actor's commitment to his craft catapulted him from rom-com lead to acting tour de force.

For most of his career, Matthew had been put in a box as a comedic actor or a romantic-comedy leading man, and obviously, he was very successful doing that. But he had the guts to say, "Hey, you know what, I am a great actor, period, and I want to stretch." He had so many other opportunities for much better paydays, but he said he wanted to do Mud, to do it for scale, and he gave his heart and soul. So he took on this small project for very little money, and he camped out on that island [in the Mississippi River], the site where the movie was shot. He didn't want to stay in a hotel because he really wanted to become this character. That says a lot about a person and his respect for the craft.

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His recent roles -- in Magic Mike, Mud and Dallas Buyers Club, for example ­-- illustrate the kind of maverick spirit he has. A lot of actors are not capable of moving outside of their comfort zones and taking risks because it's too scary. But when I speak to him, and I see this intensity in his eyes, you know this guy is going to kill it because he's ready and he has removed all doubt. There was a scene in Mud that stands out: when he is hitting the sand, and he's hitting it extremely hard to the point where his hands were bleeding. You know, most actors will have somebody stand in in a similar situation. But no, he did it on his own. He pretty much was his own stunt man. He is so unique. On the one hand, he's a family man, but at the same time, he'll do whatever it takes to be the character. And it wasn't about his ego because there was none. It was strictly about a man who enjoyed the process of doing something that he loves without having somebody else write the narrative of his career.

-- As told to Tatiana Siegel