Friday, April 26, 2013

Matthew McC, the ACTOR. His Name and Film Are 'Mud.'

IT’S as if a few years ago Matthew McConaughey went to his agent, Jim, and the conversation went something like this:

MM: Hey Sally (Jim’s secretary and General Miss-Do-It-All)

SALLY: Good morning, Matt. How are you today?

MM: I’m OK; is he in?

SALLY: Yes, he’s expecting you; go on in.

MM: Thanks, Sally

(MM opens door to Jim’s office and the man is on his feet in front of his desk smiling).

JIM: Look who’s here. What’s up? You see the game last night?

(Taking a seat and lowering his Lakers cap on his forehead) MM: Yeah, the Lakers pulled it out again.

JIM: What’s wrong? Your girlfriend break up with you?

MM: Naw, man. Nothin' like that?

(With a concerned look) JIM: What then? You don’t look like yourself.

(Shrugging his shoulders, not making eye contact) MM: It’s nothin' …

(Arms folded; waiting) JIM: Yeah? …

(Looking up as he worries the tattered threads on the right knee of his faded Levi’s): MM: It’s my career.

(Walking around his desk to sit down; looking uneasy) JIM: What about your career? It’s booming. You’re a movie star.

MM: That’s the problem, Jimmy. I’m a movie star.

Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron as brothers in “The Paperboy.” Photo from The Paperboy Facebook page.

JIM: That’s the problem?! Do you know how many chumps want to be a movie star? I thought we agreed 15 years ago that this is what you wanted. Is this a joke?

MM: I know and I’m grateful. I know there are a lot of cats out there who would love to switch places. I’m just tired of ….

(Cutting off MM) JIM: Tired of what?

MM: I want to be an actor.

(Staring at MM incredulous) JIM: What’s with you guys? You come to this town hungry. HUNGRY, sayin' you wanna make it in pictures, to see your name in lights. Then you get there and you wanna be an actor. Everybody wants to be Laurence friggin' Olivier ... Do you know how many actors there are in this town working for tips at Spago?

MM: I know. I know. That’s not what I want. I want real, solid roles. I wanna make movies that mean something to me, something I can sink my teeth into. I want something that not any pretty face in town can do. Roles that won’t land me on the cover of People magazine as the Sexiest Man Alive. Not that I’m not grateful, Jimmy. I just wanna do some work that I can be proud of.

(Getting up and walking over to MM and putting his hand on his shoulder) JIM: OK, my friend. I got a coupla ideas. I think we can make you into an actor. But don’t come cryin' to me if you don’t like it!

(Smiling, giving Jim a man hug) MM: Thanks, Jimmy. That three-pointer that Kobe sank at the buzzer was amazing.

Fast forward to now and MM is an actor with a capital “A.” For the last few years, he has been starring in mostly meaty independent films. The latest is “Mud,” which had its world premiere at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. It opens in select U.S. theaters today.

MM plays a quirky drifter on the run. He has a cock-and-bull sounding story that two teen boys have trouble buying; nevertheless they agree to help him, then all hell breaks loose. It’s another actorly performance from the man who clearly must have wanted to shed his movie star skin going into the second decade of the 21st century. (See video above).

Last year was a watershed year for the Texas native. He put in a stunning performance as a closeted gay reporter in Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy.” He won a couple of Best Supporting Actor awards, including the Independent Spirit Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle, for his work as a strip club owner in “Magic Mike.”

The Independent Spirit Awards rewarded him with a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of a hit man police detective in “Killer Joe.” The New York Critics also bestowed on MM the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as district attorney Danny Buck Davidson in Richard Linklater’s “Bernie.” The actor and director have a special relationship, dating as far back as MM's big screen debut in “Dazed and Confused” in 1993 and “The Newton Boys” in 1998.

It is in the early ’90s when MM began to gain notice. He was making the kind of films that he is making now. Of course, back in the day he was paying his dues. He would scrape together enough fare or credits, then the Hollywood big movie budget machine came calling for a guy who had aspirations of being a director.

During most of the first decade of the 2000’s, much of MM's work was forgettable fare along the lines of “The Wedding Planner,” “Reign of Fire,” “Tiptoes,” “How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days” “Sahara,” and “Failure to Launch.” Occasionally, he did some solid acting work such as “Frailty” and “Thirteen Conversations About One Thing.”

After the regrettable “Ghost of Girlfriends Past” in 2009 with Jennifer Garner, who has not done one interesting piece of work since her TV show, “Alias,” MM appears to have gone on sabbatical. During this period, a shift seemed to occur in his career. It is around this time that he likely had the above exchange with his agent.

Et voila!, the actor in MM re-emerged, starting with “The Lincoln Lawyer” in 2011. Incidentally, MM quit law school at the University of Texas to study film. He stars as Mickey Haller, the title character who does a certain job out of the backseat of a certain make of automobile. Mickey's has been an unremarkable career until the biggest case of his life drops into his lap or on his backseat.

Coming later this year are two films that are based on real life events. MM has done a number of those. He's in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” based on the memoir of The Street bad boy, Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The actor teams up again with Lee Daniels and fellow thespian John Cusack in “The Butler.” It is based on the life of Eugene Allen who had served seven sitting U.S. presidents by the time he retired in 1986. “The Butler” has an uber star-studded cast headed by Forest Whitaker. It is not yet clear what MM’s role is to be.

In “Mud,” MM plays a quirky and possibly dangerous son of a gun. If the film brings to mind Mark Twain it should. Arkansas native and writer-director Jeff Nichols was channeling the author. The film is set in Mississippi but was filmed in Arkansas. It also stars Reese Witherspoon as well as newcomers Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland.

All in all, MM is probably pleased with his career. If not, he should be.

“Mud” is rated PG-13 for some violence, sexual references, language, thematic elements and smoking; visit to learn more about the film. Rx.


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