Matthew McConaughey: A Career Transformation


Matthew McConaughey is widely considered as one of the best and most popular actors in Hollywood. With an Academy Award for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, critical acclaim for a television performance in True Detective, and multiple top-notch film showcases, it’s easy to forget McConaughey’s beginnings. He wasn’t always a star met with widespread approval. In fact, he used to be largely forgettable on the screen. Here’s an ode to how he underwent a transformation.

The 1990s were mostly random roles for McConaughey. These included Boys on the SideLarger than Life, and The Newton Boys. In the early 2000s, the uninspiring romantic comedies came. His worst ones were The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Now, strong roles such as turns in Lone Star and Frailty were mixed in between weaker ones, but the majority of his flicks were unimpressive. He definitely wasn’t expected to win an Academy Award or star in a cult classic television series.

What signaled the transformation? The Lincoln Lawyer can be looked upon as the film that changed McConaughey’s career path. With a starring role in a suspenseful drama, the Texas-born actor was drifting from the romantic comedy template. His role was met with acclaim and the movie was strongly reviewed. He showed charisma, acting depth, and commitment to a memorable role. Since this turn as a bold attorney, McConaughey’s been in Bernie, Mud, Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Interstellar.

What’s the common theme here? In each post-The Lincoln Lawyer role, McConaughey has either commanded the screen or stolen the show. He’s hilarious in Bernie, brilliant in Mud, and legendary in Dallas Buyers Club. Those are three of his better showings, but each role from 2011 and beyond has signified a drastic improvement in acting quality. He’s no longer the romantic comedy nobody. He’s no longer a questionable actor who only lands a great role every few years. Since The Lincoln Lawyer, he’s turned into a Hollywood gem.

In all honesty, even with the hardware from Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey is at his strongest in True Detective. His performance as a drug-abusing and philosophical detective is the biggest ode to his transformation. Moving forward, hopefully more television roles and dramatic showings in movies will present themselves. In sticking to a formula that works, let’s hope that he avoids romantic comedies in the same token. An easy going rom-com has its place, it just makes more sense for McConaughey to reach higher planes. He’s one of the best actors in Hollywood, it just took him quite awhile to show it.


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Tyler is the Editor-in-Chief for Hardwood and Hollywood's pop culture section. He has an unrelenting fascination with Lisbeth Salander and Omar Little. If you're looking to work on a writing project with Tyler or to be interviewed, reach him at [email protected].

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