Matthew McConaughey Wrestled a Bull and Drank Double Shots of Tequila Every Morning to Prepare for ‘Reign of Fire’

After filming The Wedding Planner, Matthew McConaughey began working on his next film project. He received an offer to star in Reign of Fire as the character Denton Van Zan. McConaughey took a surprising approach to getting into character.

Matthew McConaughey went to the extreme to prepare for ‘Reign of Fire’

Matthew McConaughey | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images
Matthew McConaughey | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

McConaughey wanted to get into character for Reign of Fire, so he took extreme measures to achieve his goal. In his book, Green Lights, he says he had two months to get ready to become Van Zan. He took a trip out to his brother’s ranch in West Texas so he could be isolated.

McConaughey’s character was a dragon slayer, so he wanted to be believable. He wasn’t afraid to do whatever it took to be prepared for the role. McConaughey says he was happy to be moving away from the romantic comedy genre, so he was all in when it was time to prepare. The actor says he wanted to devise a “dragon slayer mind, body, and spirit daily workout regime.” He made a plan that he says would be carried out in 108-degree Texas heat.

Matthew McConaughey’s ‘dragon slayer’ plan

Matthew McConaughey | Brian ZAK/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Matthew McConaughey | Brian ZAK/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Drink a double shot of tequila in the morning. At the top of the list was a double shot of tequila every morning before getting out of bed. He says he wanted to “have fire breath to beat the fire breather.” For McConaughey, beating a dragon meant you had to become the dragon.

Run 5 miles across the desert barefoot every day. McConaughey isn’t afraid to get his heart rate up. He also planned to take a daily five-mile run—without shoes. He reasoned dragons have tough skin, so he needed to toughen up his feet so he could be like them.

Stand on the edge of a barn rooftop while keeping the heart rate below 60 beats per minute. The Wedding Planner star didn’t mind getting his heart rate up for a run, but he wanted it to be low when he stood on top of a barn rooftop. This was a big challenge, considering the barn rooftop was 40 feet up and there was concrete below. He’s also afraid of heights.

Tackle sleeping cows in the pasture every night. McConaughey thought it would be a good idea to build his strength by wrestling cows. He wanted to get “thick, burly, and strong.”

How Matthew McConaughey’s plan turned out

McConaughey didn’t have much luck with his plan. It turns out that drinking a double shot of tequila before getting out of bed is hard on the stomach. McConaughey says by the sixth day, he began gagging after drinking the tequila. After the seventh morning, he decided to stop drinking alcohol first thing in the morning.

There were also problems with tackling sleeping cows. On the ninth day, McConaughey says a bull headbutted him. Unfortunately, he got a concussion while he was trying to wrestle. His five-mile run and standing on the barn rooftop experiment also failed. Although things didn’t work out the way he wanted, McConaughey says he’s glad he tried. He says he went through a lot of pain, “as any good dragon slayer would.”

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