Why Matthew McConaughey Turned Down $14.5 Million to Make Another Rom-Com Movie

Matthew McConaughey is well known for the various rom-coms he’s made over the years, but felt he had to make a risky change in order to challenge himself professionally. McConaughey moved on from the genre and, it turns out that even a fat paycheck couldn’t lure him back to doing rom-coms.

Matthew McConaughey arrives at the premiere of 'Kubo And The Two Strings' on August 14, 2016
Matthew McConaughey | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Matthew McConaughey didn’t want to make rom-coms

In McConaughey’s new memoir Greenlights, he discusses how he didn’t want to make rom-coms anymore, so he started turning them down in favor of material he could really sink his talents into. Even when he was offered $14.5 million to make one, he passed.

“The romantic comedies remained my only consistent box office hits, which made them my only consistent incoming offers,” McConaughey writes in his book (via IndieWire). “For me personally, I enjoyed being able to give people a nitty-minute breezy romantic getaway from the stress of their lives where they didn’t have to think about anything, just watch the boy chase the girl, fall down, then get up and finally get her. I had taken the baton from Hugh Grant, and I ran with it.”

It was a turning point in 2010 for the actor, who decided to pursue more challenging roles. While he wrote that he “enjoyed making romantic comedies, and their paychecks rented the houses on the beach I ran shirtless on,” he was ready for a new chapter in his career.

Though he was offered $14.5 million in 2010 to make another rom-com, he said he “declined the offer.”

He explained, “If I couldn’t do what I wanted, I wasn’t going to do what I didn’t, no matter the price.”

Camila Alves, Matthew McConaughey, and Kate Hudson attend the Fifth Annual Baby2Baby Gala
Camila Alves, Matthew McConaughey, and Kate Hudson | Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Baby2Baby

RELATED: 5 Roles That Led to Matthew McConaughey’s Turnaround

McConaughey said he wasn’t challenged

When discussing his memoir on the Oct. 21 Pardon My Take podcast, McConaughey explained more about why he changed course. The actor said he had been “rolling in rom-coms” that were “very successful” — such as The Wedding Planner (2001), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003), and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009) — but he admitted, “I wasn’t feeling challenged by it.”

“Those movies I wanted to do, they were like, ‘No, not with you McConaughey. You’re the rom-com shirtless guy, we’re not gonna let you do this movie.’ So I said if I can’t do what I want to do, I’m going to quit doing what I’ve been doing,” he explained.

He discussed the idea of dumping the rom-coms with his wife Camila Alves. “I checked with Camila and I dropped many a tear on her shoulder,” he remembered. “[I said], ‘I’m about to stop doing what I’ve been doing and I don’t know how long I’m gonna go without work … I’m gonna get wobbly … I’m going to need your help.'”

That meant passing on movie roles he wasn’t interested in — and giving up the big paychecks. “This one comes in for $8 million offer, but it’s a rom-com so I say no. Comes back with $10 million offer, still no. Comes back with $12.5 million offer … [then] a $14.5 million offer,” he explained.

“When I passed on that, Hollywood sort of got the signal … Another year goes by, nothing comes in … A total of 20 months went by, and all of a sudden, Killer Joe comes my way, Mud comes my way, Magic Mike comes my way, PaperboyTrue DetectiveDallas Buyers Club,” McConaughey added.

The actor explained that, during that time without work, he “unbranded” himself. “The industry didn’t see me as a rom-com guy,” so he was “now a new, novel, good idea” for other types of roles.

“I unbranded, to rebrand,” he added.