Living out lifelong career dreams is enough to make anyone feel extremely fortunate. But having the privilege to do so with your best friend along for the ride? We can only imagine the happiness that must bring. It’s no wonder Matthew McConaughey speaks about joy with such knowledge and eloquence – the dream scenario we just described is his reality.
Though they’ve worked on far more projects separately, close friends Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson have had the pleasure of sharing the screen on more than one occasion. The duo has worked on a total of four movies and television shows together, each project more successful than the last.
Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson Movies and TV Shows
- Welcome to Hollywood
- Surfer, Dude
- True Detective
A Breakdown of the Texans’ Shared Projects
Though the following list is in chronological order, there’s also a clear increase in popularity and box-office/ratings success with each project Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson have completed together.
This isn’t all that surprising considering both actors are far more famous now than they were 30 years ago. Not to mention, their bond is much stronger, which translates to easy on-screen chemistry to the audience.
In order to get to the beginning of their now decades-long friendship and professional relationship, we have to go all the way back to 1998.
‘Welcome to Hollywood’ (1998/2000)
Welcome to Hollywood marks the first time that Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s names both appeared in the credits. An HBO mockumentary that follows a young actor as he attempts to gain the attention of a film director, Welcome to Hollywood has a long list of celebrity cameos. Along with McConaughey and Harrelson, major stars such as Jeff Goldblum, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, and Cuba Gooding Jr. are also credited.
This one is interesting, because although Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson both have cameo roles in Welcome to Hollywood, and it’s the first project on which they both worked, they don’t cite it as their first interaction. We can only assume that the filming of their cameos took place on different dates or times and the two never crossed paths on the set.
Next up is EDtv, the project both McConaughey and Harrelson remember as the set on which they met. Released in 1999, EDtv is a satirical comedy about a video store clerk whose every move is filmed by a camera crew for a fictional television show called Ed TV.
It’s no surprise that the Texas natives remember EDtv as their first film together. They no doubt spent quite a bit of time together during the production, as they played brothers in the project.
Ed Pekurny, played by McConaughey, is the film’s titular character and the primary subject. Ray Pekurny, Harrelson’s character, was considered for the fictional show with his brother, but Ed got the role instead. Ed eventually gets Ray’s girlfriend as well.
Unfortunately, the film was a box office flop, garnering only $35 million in profits despite its $80 million budget. That said, there’s no question that Harrelson and McConaughey have no regrets, as EDtv is what sparked their now-legendary bromance.
‘Surfer, Dude’ (2008)
Skip forward nearly a decade and we arrive at Surfer, Dude, another comedy from the duo. This one, however, was a far more successful project, raking in $52 million at the box office after spending only $6 million to create the film.
We won’t lie to you. Surfer, Dude was considered a bust by fans and critics. However, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson clearly had a ton of fun making the film, so can it really be considered a failure?
Surfer, Dude felt like an attempt to capture the 70s vibes of McConaughey’s classic film Dazed and Confused and was dubbed “a vanity production” by critics. It follows Steve Addington (played by Matthew McConaughey), a surfer in search of the perfect wave.
When more than a month passes with no wave in sight, however, Addington suffers an existential crisis. As the surfer waits for the waves to arrive, he’s approached by reality show producers, whom he turns down. At the end of the movie, the waves finally return to California.
True Detective (2014)
At this point, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson have been friends for close to twenty years. They’re better friends than ever, but they still don’t have a critically acclaimed project together. But that all changed with Season 1 of True Detective, in which McConaughey and Harrelson both starred.
Unlike their previous projects, True Detective was an instant success, becoming the most-watched show on television at the time. McConaughey and Harrelson play a pair of Louisiana detectives, Rust Cole and Marty Hart, who work together to investigate an unusually gruesome murder.
8 years ago today, True Detective starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson premiered on HBO 🦌pic.twitter.com/YEWuKUJffy— Screen Off Script (@ScreenOffScript) January 12, 2022
Both McConaughey and Harrelson attribute the success of True Detective to their real-life friendship. However, it also provided their biggest hurdle with the project, as they couldn’t allow that bond to come across on-screen.
Being the committed actor that he is, Matthew McConaughey was careful not to be too affectionate with his friend on set. “There were times I would get kinda angry with Matthew,” recalls Harrelson. “And he’s one of my best buddies, so it felt weird. But he was in character and that f—ing character just made me want to f—ing slap him.”
“He’s so good,” Harrelson continues with a laugh. “But he’d stay in character. You know, not after work, but while we were at work. It wasn’t like ‘Hey, buddy!’ None of that. So that was a little… But anyway, it turned out good.”