For years, Matthew McConaughey was best known as the handsome and shirtless star of the rom-com genre, appearing in countless frothy studio movies that hardly challenged him as an actor. Despite such chiseled good looks, though, it was his acting abilities that first brought him to mainstream attention in the 1990s in projects like A Time to Kill, Contact and Amistad.
After The Wedding Planner scored big box office business in 2001, however, McConaughey made the genre his home and would go on to appear in the lightweight and disposable likes of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. At the end of the decade, though, he decided to reinvent himself as a serious dramatic talent, and the approach paid off massively.
The so-called McConaissance culminated in an Academy Award win for Dallas Buyers Club, but also brought rave reviews for his work in The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, Killer Joe, Mud, Magic Mike and The Wolf of Wall Street. And with his reputation now rejuvenated and secured, the actor has shown absolutely no interest in returning to the genre that he was once a regular part of.
In his memoirs, the 50 year-old explained why he decided to continue starring in variations of the same premise over and over again, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that those were the only sort of regular offers he was getting.
“The romantic comedies remained my only consistent box office hits, which made them my only consistent incoming offers. For me personally, I enjoyed being able to give people a nitty-minute breezy romantic getaway from the stress of their lives where they didn’t have to think about anything, just watch the boy chase the girl, fall down, then get up and finally get her. I had taken the baton from Hugh Grant, and I ran with it.”
McConaughey even revealed that he turned down a $14.5 million payday to headline a rom-com just when the next stage of his career was taking off, as he decided to focus on more challenging work rather than taking the easy money.
“I declined the offer. If I couldn’t do what I wanted, I wasn’t going to do what I didn’t, no matter the price.”
Now widely recognized as one of the finest actors of his generation, Matthew McConaughey definitely made the right choice, and may well have faded into obscurity by this point if he’d continued down the rom-com path.