Matthew McConaughey is the master of movies. He can be the charming cowboy, a scientist, an explorer, the perfect boyfriend, an aging stripper or a passionate lawyer.
Doesn’t matter if this Texan is doing comedy or drama. It all works. So, can we get an alright, alright, alright as we count all the Matthew McConaughey movies? If you toss out the shorts and TV appearances (we’re sorry, True Detective, you’re for another story), we’ve got McConaughey at 49 roles and counting.
Matthew McConaughey Has Starred in 49 Movies
Let’s drift back to some of those magical Matthew moments, to where McConaughey ebbs and he flows.
Of course, no McConaughey story can start without the 1993 coming-of-age movie Dazed and Confused. You know it’s a classic if fans still can quote back the lines decades after you first said them. There’s the ad-libbed “alright, alright, alright” line. Plus, McConaughey also introduced the j.k. (as in just keep) living moment in film.
The slacker Wooderson also uttered this line, which often gets overlooked: “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”
McConaughey Played Southern Lawyer in First Meaty Role
By 1996, McConaughey was creating big buzz in Hollywood. He was in his mid-20s and critics were likening him to Paul Newman. McConaughey landed the part of Jake Brigance, a young, Mississippi lawyer in A Time to Kill. The movie was based on the best-selling novel by John Grisham. The director considered Woody Harrelson and Val Kilmer for the part, but gave it to the charismatic McConaughey. The movie spent two weeks atop the box office charts and grossed more than $100 million.
He spent the rest of the decade mostly playing dramas. Then came the Y2K rom-com chapter of McConaughey’s career. He’d smile and show off those sweet dimples and say the lines with his slow Texas drawl. Do you remember him opposite Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner? How about Kate Hudson in Fools Gold or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? He starred with Sarah Jessica Parker in Failure to Launch. And he was the romantic lead with Jennifer Garner in the holiday movie Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
You Should Read Up on the ‘McConaissance’
McConaughey had plenty of money in the bank, but he seemed to be typecast as the handsome rascal. People Magazine choosing him as its 2005 Sexiest Man Alive just cemented that reputation.
But coming up on 40, Matthew McConaughey flipped the script in his movies. By 2011, he went back to portraying a defense attorney in The Lincoln Lawyer. (Three years later, he was going deeply philosophical in all those Lincoln car commercials) And then he pulled off playing a strip club owner who hosts the nightly shows at Xquisite. Seriously, who can forget McConaughey, clad in leather pants, vest and a cowboy hat, parading on stage as Dallas in Magic Mike?
Dallas tells the crowd of ladies: “Fact is, the law says you cannot touch! But I think I see a lotta lawbreakers up in this house tonight.”
Then in 2013, McConaughey secured his most critically celebrated role. In Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey was an electrician and rodeo cowboy who found out he had AIDS. McConaughey lost 50 pounds to play Ron Woodroof. The movie was set in the mid-1980s. And Woodroof smuggled in unapproved meds from Mexico for himself and others in Dallas.
In 2014, McConaughey stepped on stage as the winner of Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
The “McConaissance” was complete.
“That whole thing was much less of a 180 for myself than people seemed to think,” McConaughey told reporters. “There was this narrative of ‘then’ and ‘now.’ I didn’t get a new acting coach or take a new class. I just said, ‘F–k the bucks—I’m going for the experience’ in the things I was choosing.”
So what is McConaughey doing these days? His latest project was Sing 2, a kid-friendly animated movie that premiered in December.
And back in 2019, McConaughey starred in The Beach Bum. Get this, he played a guy named Moondog, who liked to smoke pot and spout poetry as he hung out in the Florida Keys. Folks saw a whole lot of the McConaughey persona in that character. Maybe he was Wooderson, all grown up.