Matthew McConaughey Thinks His Hiatus From Acting Actually Helped Him Land Better Roles — ‘I Became a New Good Idea By Removing Myself’

Matthew McConaughey has established himself as one of the most versatile actors in the movie business. Having starred in classic films such as Dallas Buyers Club and Interstellar, McConaughey has proven he can hold his own in any role. 

However, there was a time when the industry didn’t think this was the case. Earlier in his career, he had become typecast as a romantic comedy star, which he didn’t like. It wasn’t until he stepped away from acting for two years that he began attracting the roles he really wanted. 

Matthew McConaughey got tired of taking predictable roles

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey at Hogg Memorial Auditorium | Gary Miller/Getty Images

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Although McConaughey had carved a nice lane for himself and was seeing great success within his romantic comedy niche, he wanted to mix things up. He felt like the scripts he was getting sent were too predictable, and he felt compelled to find roles he could sink his teeth into.

“I wanted to re-calibrate my relationship with my career,” McConaghey said in a resurfaced 2014 SAG-AFTRA Foundation interview. “I remember thinking … I’m enjoying it, I love what it’s given me, I like going to work, I like the things I’ve been doing. But everything I started reading, I felt like, ‘Oh, it’s another version of something I’ve done. Or I feel like I could do it next week. … Let me find something that I really like.”

Matthew McConaughey decided to take a break from acting 

McConaughey liked the idea of waiting until he found something he liked, but he also had very real fears. He had enough money to get by and take care of his family, but there was no guarantee if, or when, a great role would come by. 

“That scares me, that shakes my floor,” McConaughey said. “I was fortunate enough … to know that my rent was paid, I fortunate enough to know my kids were gonna eat. I was just shepherding my first son into the world, so I had that to take care of my time. And I said, ‘It’s a great time to go into the shadows and be a father and sit back and see if something turns you on from the inside out or if something finds you.” 

It was difficult for Matthew McConaughey to stay committed to his decision 

Although McConaughey was excited about his decision at first, his enthusiasm began to wane as the months passed. After nearly a year without work, the multi-million dollar offers for the same roles became very enticing. 

“I had to sit down with my agent and say, ‘Hey, I’m really gonna do this, and I really need your help with my commitment to this,’ because after eight months if the same thing comes in with the big $10 million paycheck, it starts to read better. And funnier. … I promise you … The same words.”

Matthew McConaughey had no work for nearly 2 years but stayed busy 

McConaughey’s commitment to his decision is admirable, but it led to a long dry spell for opportunities. 

“After they quit sending those, it did get dry. Then nothing came for about a year,” McConaughey said. 

However, despite being out of work, McConaughey found ways to stay busy. 

“I didn’t have any sleepless nights, or ‘Oh my gosh,’ it was like, ‘No, I’ll find something. I’ll write.’ I was writing a lot, I was turning myself on creatively, and as I said, I had my first son to shepherd into the world.”

Things finally turned around for Matthew McConaughey 

Finally, after two years of waiting, things finally changed for McConaughey. 

“And then the funny thing happened, the beautiful thing happened,” McConaughey said. “Somehow the target drew the arrow, and I think—my opinion is—I became a new good idea by removing myself. … Somehow in that two years, I became a fresh new idea that I don’t think I was two, three years prior.”

McConaughey’s next role would be Killer Joe, a black comedy crime film that changed the industry’s perception of him as an actor.