Watch: Matthew McConaughey makes psychosis seem charming in ‘Killer Joe’

At the end of our interview, I had a chance to talk to Matthew McConaughey for a few moments with the camera off, and I told him how I tend to judge his movies first and foremost on the inclusion of a whole-hearted “Alright, alright, alright.”  When I hear that, I know I’m in for something special, and hearing it in “Magic Mike” earlier this summer almost made me applaud in the theater.

“I only use it when I feel it’s appropriate,” he said.  “Sometimes I only manage to work in an ‘alright,’ and I have to be content with that.  But going back to ‘Dazed and Confused,’ that has always been something that feels right for certain characters, and I do… I like to break it out.”

He must be walking around the house repeating it over and over and over this year, then, because McConaughey is having one of the very best years he’s ever had as an actor.  His work in Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” earlier this year not only reunited him with a director he loves, but it also gave him a great eccentric supporting role to play. 

In Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike,” he turned up the sleaze and it paid off in spades.  It’s one of his most indelible roles, a predatory club owner who knows exactly how to string the talent along, taking advantage of their dreams to fuel his own. 

Finally, with William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe,” he’s given one of the scariest performances of his career, and it feels like we’re still just learning what he’s capable of almost 20 years into his life in the public eye.

It sounds like this shift in focus was a conscious decision on McConaughey’s part.  He evidently made a decision that he wanted to find projects that didn’t feel like something he’d already done, and that’s led to him picking the things he’s picked this year.  It’s exciting to see someone reinvent themselves mid-stream, and talking to him, it sounds like we’re seeing the beginning of a whole new wave of roles for him that should, if they’re anything like what he’s done this year, be wildly exciting.

Alright, alright, alright.

“Killer Joe” is now playing in NY and will open in more cities starting this weekend.