He might be an A-lister. He might be an Oscar winner. He might be one of the buzziest celebrities orbiting through the current pop-culture zeitgeist. But don’t think for a minute that Matthew McConaughey has gone Hollywood.
In an interview with Garden & Gun magazine for its February/March issue, conducted last year while the actor was in New Orleans to shoot his Civil War action film “The Free State of Jones,” the Texas-born McConaughey waxed on at length about why he loves the American South in general and the Crescent City in particular — right down to its potholes.
On his role in Interstellar:
“I’ll say this, it’s the most ambitious film that Chris Nolan has ever directed. By far. It goes out there further than any story I’ve ever seen. The epic scale is larger, but also, the intimacy, the pulse of the movie. It’s the most human film he’s done as well. We’re not dealing with archetypes like Batman. We’re dealing with a guy, with family, with choice… It’s as big as it gets, man.”
On telling his agent he wouldn’t accept rom-coms anymore:
“After eight months, I remember my agent calling and he said, ‘I think I got the message out.’ And I said, ‘How do you know?’ And he said, ‘Because nobody is sending s**t.'”
On finding himself dissatisfied with his career [before the ‘McConaissance’]:
“I said to myself: ‘Why are you doing it then?’ And I said, ‘I want to be three things. I want to be a husband. I want to be a father. And I want to be an actor for hire.’ I had to start downsizing to get happier.”
On teaching his kids to work hard now for rewards later:
“Kids don’t think about later. Everything is right now. So that’s what we’re trying to teach them: delayed gratification. Like, remember that time when Papai was skinny [for Dallas Buyers Club] and I wasn’t around much, and I couldn’t go outside and play with you? Well, for the work I did then, a year and a half later, somebody deemed it excel- lent, and gave me a first-place trophy for it.”
On his son Lexi:
“He asked me what a tsunami was, and if one could come here [to Malibu]. And I said, ‘Yeah.’ So he said, ‘Well, what do we do?’ And I go, ‘Well, you grab your most prized possessions. We get the dog, we get the cat and we git out quick.’ And he goes, ‘But, Papai, we also take the Oscar, right?’ I was like, ‘Good man! Good man! I’m glad you picked that up. Yes, we do.'”
Written off as a romcom himbo, resurrected as an Oscar-winning leading man, Matthew McConaughey is about to go Interstellar with Christopher Nolan – but not before he shares his rules for life in the latest issue of GQ as our December edition cover star.
However, it’s not just about the actor’s magnificent McConnaissance. You’ll also find superb long reads such as Jonathan Heaf on Uganda – a country which, despite dropping its controversial anti-gay law proposals earlier this year, is still blighted by violence and extremism against sexual minorities – and all-star interviews like Alastair Campbell grilling Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt.
Elsewhere we’ve broken down the best places to have an affair (hint: try Wales), the return of corduroy to your winter wardrobe (and the best ways to wear it), the hottest photos of the soon-coming-to-London Victoria’s Secret Angels, Bill Clinton on Hilary’s race to be president, and the 35 coolest men under 38-and-a-half.
And much like McConaughey’s career right now, there’s not a romcom in sight.
You know what we love about Matthew McConaughey? We keep getting older, and he just stays the same age (at least in spirit) even as he glides with Woodersonian ease into act three of a career that somehow feels like it’s just getting started.
Brothers and sisters, behold the fruits of the McConaissance. The man himself is sitting in the back of a black chauffeured Mercedes-Benz, gliding effortlessly down the 405, relaxed, legs akimbo, wearing boots, gray jeans, a white V-neck, and sunglasses. On one knee is balanced a bottle of kombucha, the flavor of which, when combined with the packet of chewing tobacco tucked into his lower lip, can only be guessed at. On the other, there’s a brown leather journal with a turquoise clasp—a place to record stray thoughts, doodles, visual diagrams of future roles, and whatever else pops into his head.
“A man should always have his diary on him,” Matthew McConaughey says, grinning, borrowing from Oscar Wilde. “That way he’s guaranteed to always have something incredible to read.”
The car is bearing McConaughey from Los Angeles to San Diego, where he will make a surprise appearance at Comic-Con on behalf of Interstellar, the dimension-bending Christopher Nolan epic he stars in this month. Afterward he and his family will board a private plane for Massachusetts, where he will shoot Gus Van Sant’s latest, The Sea of Trees. Both are the kind of role McConaughey wouldn’t have sniffed only a few years ago. The story of this transformation is repeated so often it’s taken on the quality of an American parable: Preternaturally talented young man gets lost in a maze of easy, interchangeable romantic comedies before suddenly seeing the light and getting serious. An Oscar, Emmy nominations, a whole new status follow. Lo, he is risen.
The first sign that perhaps the story isn’t quite so simple may have come in McConaughey’s Oscar speech for Dallas Buyers Club, in every way the kind of Very Serious Movie designed to breed smug and sentimental showboating. Instead, it was old-school McConaughey—part flirt, part hippie preacher, all brash and cheerful self-regard. So much for killing the past. We even got an “All right, all right, all right.”
In person, it’s easy to feel that McConaughey contains if not multitudes, then at least enough facets to defy easy categorization. He’s a joyful talker with a gift for conversation that is much like his gift for acting: a talent for being extraordinarily present and engaged, no matter how banal or repetitive the circumstances. Credit that for the fact that, at any given moment, at least one of those supposedly disposable romantic comedies is airing somewhere in the cable universe. And for the fact that he’s more than game to kick the tires of the Parable of McConaughey to see what’s true, what’s false, and what lies in between.
Two years ago, Christopher Nolan sat down with an unlikely collaborator on a new project. The collaborator was Kip Thorne, one of the most renowned theoretical physicists of the modern era — and also, improbably, the executive producer of the film Nolan badly wanted to direct.
The script, initially written by Nolan’s younger brother Jonathan (known as Jonah), was Interstellar. And over the following months and years, the two men — one, a daring director whose last seven movies, including Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy, grossed a collective $3.55 billion worldwide; the other, a pioneering scientist who specialized in such arcana as black holes, singularities and event horizons — would embark on an intellectual exploration as Nolan, 44, repeatedly met with Thorne, 74, to kick around ideas about time, space and the time-space continuum. In the process, they explored everything from questions about wormholes to whether it might be possible to go faster than the speed of light.
The result of all this work is an audacious, two-hour-and-47-minute drama that cost $165 million to make (Paramount, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures split the budget; Paramount will release the film in the U.S., Warners will handle international) and is expected to contend in the best picture Oscar race. Interstellar opens Nov. 5 and follows more in the vein of mind-bending science fiction classics such as 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey than 1977’s Star Wars — both Nolan favorites.
Reworking Jonah’s script (originally written for Steven Spielberg to direct), Nolan refined the story of four astronauts who embark on a mission that takes them through a wormhole and into another galaxy, where they must search for a habitable planet before ecological problems doom Earth. For much of the shoot, which was shrouded in secrecy, the story was referred to by the code name “Flora’s Letter” (a reference to one of Nolan and producer Emma Thomas’ four children), perhaps indicative of the shift in emotional temperature that this sometimes-cool filmmaker wished to take here.
With Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming film Interstellar, the director of The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception boldly goes into outer space with his most visually spectacular and emotionally resonant movie yet. We can say that because we’ve seen it. We also watched Nolan make it, and in this week’s Entertainment Weekly, we bring you onto the top secret set and take you into editing room to chronicle how the man who made Batman fly to new heights pushed himself creatively and personally to produce his sci-fi epic.
Interstellar opens Nov. 5 and stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, and John Lithgow, to name a few. (Seriously: There are more.) The plot tracks a quartet of astronauts and scientists—and the most unusual robot to grace the screen in years (meet the fall’s breakout star: a mini-monolith of metamorphic Jenga blocks named TARS)—who journey across the universe to search for a new home for mankind: In the near future of the film, Earth is dying, ravaged by blight and environmental ruin.
And yet, Interstellar deliberately veers away from dystopia chic with its depiction of optimistic, adventurous heroism reminiscent of director Philip Kaufmann’s adaptation of The Right Stuff, which not only influenced the tone of Nolan’s movie but the techniques he used to make it. Informed by the work and theories of renowned astrophysicist Kip Thorne, Interstellar is more akin to the speculative sci-fi of 2001: A Space Odyssey than space opera fantasy like Star Wars, while still remaining accessible pop entertainment. Mind altering substances are not required to appreciate this trip. “Isn’t it nice to have a movie that is about all things the movie is about and not feel druggy?” says Hathaway with a laugh.
Nolan challenged himself and his team to fill Interstellar with imagery designed to inspire awe in the audience, not to mention a little terror. Dust storms. Tidal waves. Wormholes. A tiny, fragile spaceship juxtaposed against the monstrous gas planet of Saturn. Everything in the hush-hush final act. “This is the first film I have made where the actual experience of the film is paramount to the audience,” Nolan tells EW. “You would think that’s the case with Batman movies but it’s not; they’re more dependent on the reaction of characters on screen. Interstellar is different. It harkens back to the direct experience films of 2001, where you’re not just experiencing it through the characters, you are lost in it.” (You might want to watch Interstellar on an IMAX screen, especially since Nolan incorporated more than an hour of footage shot using IMAX cameras.)
Nolan also aspired to craft a philosophically thoughtful, deep feeling experience, too. He chased that goal in a number of ways, from an inventive collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer to drawing inspiration from his experience as a father. “The film is about human nature, what it means to be human. It sounds like a very grand statement, but I don’t intend it to be. I mean it in the way, say, Treasure of the Sierra Madre is about dramatizing ideas of human nature,” says Nolan, who wrote the script with his brother, Jonathan, and produced Interstellar with his wife, Emma Thomas, who has produced all of his movies. “When you take an audience far away from human experience as possible, you wind up focusing very tightly on human nature and how we are connected to each other. What the film tries to do is to be very honest in that appraisal.”
The result is Nolan’s most personal movie. “Nobody is able to put more scope, scale, awe on screen than Chris,” says McConaughey. “But I think he was wanting to take the next step, toward something more intimate. It was an evolution.”
For more on Interstellar, check out this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, Oct. 17.