Matthew McConaughey Movies and TV Shows: A Complete Guide

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon")

In 1993, Matthew McConaughey broke into Hollywood with his unforgettable role in the zombie movie My Boyfriend’s Back as… “Guy #2.” Okay, that one probably isn’t all that memorable unless you’re a true McConaughey connoisseur – it was only a cameo, after all. That role was undeniably important, however, as it marked the starting point of what has now become a three-decades-long career. And counting.

Since “Guy #2,” McConaughey has appeared in nearly 60 movies and television shows spanning a wide variety of genres, from romcoms to black comedies to children’s movies. Is every Matthew McConaughey movie a critical hit? No. However, each one is full of the unique charm we’ve come to expect from one of Hollywood’s leading actors.

Because there are so many Matthew McConaughey movies to choose from, let’s start by breaking them down by genre.

The Best Matthew McConaughey Movies by Genre

Whether you’re in the mood for a sappy romance or a high-stakes adventure, there’s a Matthew McConaughey movie for you. Throughout his career transformation, McConaughey has played just about every type of character imaginable.

Romantic Comedies

With that in mind, let’s talk about the most obvious first: rom-coms. Though his best roles might not have come from this genre, there’s no denying that a solid chunk of McConaughey’s roles revolve around his looks and Texas twang. If you’re in the mood for a rom-com, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past will all hit the spot.

Adventure Movies

Next up, let’s talk adventure. Because if there’s one thing Matthew McConaughey does well, it’s everything. No, wait. It’s pulling the audience along for the ride as he embarks on a thrilling adventure. Adventure-enthusiasts will love Interstellar, The Dark Tower, Fool’s Gold (again), Mud, Kubo and the Two Strings, Sahara, Gold, and U-571.


Then there are the comedy movies, sans romance. Okay, a lot of them have some romance. But the romance isn’t a main character of the film. If you need a laugh, Dazed and Confused, Tropic Thunder, Surfer Dude, The Beach Bum, The Gentlemen, and the Sing franchise are fantastic additions to any movie night.


Finally, we have Matthew McConaughey’s more intense movies, let’s categorize these as drama/thriller films. Those looking for a little bit of anxiety with their movie-watching experience will love these. The best drama/thrillers featuring McConaughey include Lone Star, Frailty, Reign of Fire, Dallas Buyers Club, Serenity, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Now, that’s a lot of movies. But if you could only watch a few – say, three, which would they be? It’s a tough decision. Let’s start with the easiest choice and go from there.

‘Dazed and Confused’ (1993)

The first (and arguably, best) Matthew McConaughey performance, excluding “Guy #2,” was in Dazed and Confused. The film follows a group of teenagers in Austin, Texas, as they experience the joys of the early days of summer.

McConaughey plays the sometimes inappropriate but always lovable David Wooderson. Though still a young man, Wooderson is noticeably older than the other characters. Part of Wooderson’s charm, however, is that he still sees himself as a teenager.

As David Wooderson, McConaughey gave us legendary lines such as, “You just gotta keep livin’, man. L-I-V-I-N.” and “Alright, alright, alright,” which remains the Texan’s catchphrase to this day.

‘The Wedding Planner’ (2001)

Matthew McConaughey has been in a handful of romantic comedies over the years, but The Wedding Planner is a classic. It’s McConaughey’s first appearance as “heartthrob with a slick Texas accent,” but as they say, it’s tough to beat the original.

McConaughey plays Steve Edison, a charming pediatrician who meets, and subsequently falls in love with, Jennifer Lopez’s Mary Fiore, the wedding planner. But there’s a catch – Edison is engaged. And doesn’t yet know that Mary Fiore was hired to plan his wedding.

Awkward situations and hilarity ensue, with Edison and Fiore doing their best to deny their attraction toward each other, and failing to do so. There’s no shortage of comedy, but what really makes the movie stand out is the unmistakable chemistry between McConaughey and Lopez.

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013)

Finally, we couldn’t not talk about The Wolf of Wall Street, in which Matthew McConaughey plays the drug-fueled stockbroker Marc Hanna. Dazed and Confused might have marked the birth of McConaughey’s catchphrase, but in The Wolf of Wall Street, McConaughey added a hand motion to his repertoire of iconic gestures.

During a lunch meeting with Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Marc Hanna describes the secrets of his business to the eager young stockbroker. Before he imparts his words of wisdom, however, Hanna pounds on his chest while chanting under his breath.

This scene became an instant classic – and the best part is, it’s 100% McConaughey. The chest-pounding/chanting combo is something McConaughey does before a lot of his scenes. Leonardo DiCaprio saw McConaughey performing his pre-scene ritual and liked it so much, he suggested they add it to the film.