At last month’s 17th annual Hollywood Film Awards, the first stop of the awards season, Matthew McConaughey was honored as Actor of the Year. How did the onetime Shirtless Wonder of generic romantic comedies earn the accolade? One performance at a time. Here are six supporting and starring roles that proved he’s more than pecs and pearly teeth.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
McConaughey made an iconic impression in a handful of scenes as David Wooderson, the creepy older guy who hangs around the fringes of his old high school, trolling for jailbait, in this 1993 film. Greasy-haired, stoned, rocking pink jeans and a Ted Nugent T-shirt, he skeeved out generations of viewers with the timeless line, “I get older; they stay the same age.”
We Are Marshall (2006)
As the scruffy coach who rebuilds a high school football program devastated by a plane crash, he delivers a motivational speech for the ages: “This is your opportunity to rise from these ashes and grab glory. We are … Marshall! We are … Marshall! We are … Marshall! The funerals end today!”
Jack Black stars as a mortician on trial for the murder of millionaire Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). McConaughey plays Danny Buck Davidson, a publicity hound district attorney who seems a bit smaller than life thanks to his oversized Stetson and eyeglasses.
Killer Joe (2011)
In “Exorcist” director William Friedkin’s deep-fried Texas redneck murder story, McConaughey plays a black-clad cop and part-time assassin hired by a trailer park clan to knock off their mama. Instead, he does something with a chicken drumstick that is much, much worse.
Magic Mike (2012)
As Dallas, the mercenary emcee of a male strip club, he struts the stage in backless chaps, inciting the women in the crowd to lose their inhibitions. Flashing a come-and-get-it grin, he warns, ”The law says you cannot touch. But I think I see a lotta lawbreakers up in this house tonight!”
McConaughey is scruffy, courageous and unpredictable as a fugitive who befriends a pair of small-town Southern boys in a story that’s half Huck Finn, half revenge thriller, and heartfelt from beginning to end. “There are fierce powers at work in the world, boys. Good, evil, poor luck, best luck. As men, we’ve got to take advantage where we can.”