Matthew McConaughey - The rise from the RomCom genre to an Oscar winning leading man

Monday, 3 March 2014 - 6:15pm IST Updated: Monday, 3 March 2014 - 2:30pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Web Team
  • Matthew-McConaughey-Oscars Matthew McConaughey accepting his Best Actor Oscar for 'Dallas Buyers Club' (AFP Photo)

Matthew McConaughey comes from humble beginnings. He is the son of a a gas station owner and a substitute school teacher. The Texas-born actor began his acting career with a small, barely noticeable role in 'My Boyfriend's Back', a horror comedy, but he received wider attention as David Wooderson in Richard Linklater's coming of age comedy 'Dazed and Confused'. It is with this movie that McConaughey, a proven actor began his journey that led him to become one of the Romantic Comedy genre's most recognisable leading men.

He forayed more and more into the genre becoming an actor that no would assume could steal the show at an Oscar ceremony. 'Failure To Launch', 'The Wedding Planner', 'EDtv', 'How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days', 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past', are just some of the movies that began to define the now award winning actor. Of course, there were glimpses of the obvious potential the leading man could show in films like 'We Are Marshals' and his directorial debut with the 1998 short film 'The Rebel', but still McConaughey seemed like he would fade into obscurity just like most of his movies.

But since 2011, the world has been seeing a different side of the actor. After taking a hiatus from acting, McConaughey emerged a new man with the 2011 drama 'The Lincoln Lawyer'. McConaughey proved that whatever happened, he would not go unnoticed. From then on out he's starred in a slew of hits including 'Killer Joe', 'The Paperboy', 'Mud' and 'Magic Mike'.

But 2013 was his year, releasing two of his biggest movies yet, 'Dallas Buyers Club' and 'The Wolf Of Wall Street'. His performance in the former as the AIDS riddled Texan Ron Woodroof makes the transition quite evident.

Now 'Dallas Buyers Club' is a fantastic movie by itself but what truly cements the film as an Oscar contender is the acting. If you told me ten years ago that McConaughey would not only be nominated but go on to win the Oscar for Best Actor in a year that had performances from Christian Bale, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio (Although he hasn't had much luck either), I would have laughed out loud. But of course now, after watching truly his most captivating performance till date, I can wholly accept the previous statement.

In his career defining performance, Matthew McConaughey plays the aforementioned Ron Woodroof, a slick Texan electrician who is diagnosed with HIV. The film slowly and steadily shows his evolution from a prejudiced homophobe to a man who fights for not only his rights, but the rights of other survivors. McConaughey's portrayal as a man who realises he's already dead but doesn't have to go down without a fight works so well that it would have been a travesty had the Academy not noticed it. 

Unlike his past roles as the predictable lead in Romantic Comedies, McConaughey has had quite the year, picking the right roles and finally showing everyone that he has been consistently underestimated as an actor. Here, in this film, he gives an amazing performance that begins with sleaziness and prejudices which transitions to actual humanity and empathy towards the end.

Going on to the second movie, Martin Scorsese's 'The Wolf Of Wall Street', McConaughey has all but 20 minutes of screen time, and honestly I think he should have gotten a nod in the Best Supporting Category at the award ceremonies as well. His performance as Mark Hanna, the chest-beating, coke-sniffing boss of Jordan Belfort certainly makes impression on you, and you can't help but think he's one of the best parts of the film.

Apart from movies, McConaughey has also begun starring in 'True Detective', a show which reunited Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. The gritty HBO show is an anthology series which has been released to wide spread critical acclaim, particularly due to the performances of the lead actors and, the direction and writing. Expect an Emmy nod and possible win for McConaughey which could only propel him more into the limelight. While some may consider this move as a step back, moving from movies to Television, in reality it will justifiably cement his role as Hollywood's most bankable actor. 

If McConaughey continues picking the right roles as he has been doing this past year, and banking on his recent Oscar win, there's no stopping him from taking Hollywood by storm. McConaughey will next be seen in Christopher Nolan's​ much anticipated film 'Interstellar'.


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