Speaking with Matthew McConaughey about his work in Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Dallas Buyers Club” last week, it was obvious — as it was at Sundance when he was promoting “Mud” — that the actor is savoring every step of his career’s newfound upward trajectory. He’s taken to the “McConnaissance” like a duck to water, and it’s because he’s clearly a guy who relishes an experience.
That’s just what he told me when I got around to the subject of Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” the big budget blockbuster that serves as the director’s first outing since the “Dark Knight” trilogy wrapped up his ascendance in the Hollywood sphere, and a film no one would have expected a guy like McConaughey to be headlining three years ago. For what it’s worth, that fact isn’t lost on McConaughey, and while he’s surely thankful for the opportunity to take the big spotlight again in his career, he’s mostly stoked about the contrast and the chance to try something new.
“You know, Chris is a great mind,” McConaughey told me. “His brother wrote the script, he’s got a hand in the script, and this is a big movie. So there’s a lot of things that have to be coordinated to make a scene work, which is different than something like [‘Dallas Buyers Club’]: 25 days, one camera, no lights, it’s about performance, follow this guy’s life, ‘go.’ There’s no time to be ‘considerate.’ So there’s a lot of things to ‘consider’ with a larger-scope movie like this where also the director is doing many things with the story. But when we’re shooting the scenes, it’s like you’re on an independent. It’s, ‘Get after it,’ a couple of takes, ‘We got it; move on.’ It’s not overly precious.”
But what McConaughey is trying to do is preserve what is absolutely precious to him: something formative and meaningful, a professional adventure that will remain something he’ll carry with him the rest of his life. And being a cog in a major production wheel like “Interstellar,” even if it’s a leading man cog, brings with it the danger of losing that kind of grace note.
“What I’ve gotten out of the last two years that’s been so rewarding to me is I’ve been getting these experiences, man, just feeling like I’m in the clay, man, I’m deep in, man, I’m in it,” he told me, talking with his hands for emphasis. “So going into a big movie I had a bit of fear, going like, ‘Was it so much of a machine that I’m going to still be able to have an experience?’ So that’s what I’m working on, that I am getting. Because I’m holding on and saying, ‘No, I’m still going to have an experience today. I still had an experience on Friday.’ I’m serving his story but I’m still having a personal experience. And that was my biggest fear, or biggest trepidation going into it, but I have to say, I’m getting one out of it.”
The hotly anticipated film is certainly high on the radar for filmgoers given the man behind the camera, but in front of the camera, it promises to be a culmination of the last few years in McConaughey’s career, the coronation of a rebirth. That moment in and of itself will certainly be an “experience” the actor will also cherish.
“Interstellar” hits theaters Nov. 7, 2014. In the meantime, check back soon for our full interview with McConaughey about “Dallas Buyers Club.”