Q&A

ac­tor

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - In­ter­view by HAN­NAH JAMES

Matthew Mcconaughey on play­ing the devil – and the bon­gos naked.

You’re known to be some­thing of a philoso­pher. What are you mulling

over right now? A lot has to do with hav­ing kids. It’s de­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion, which I had to learn [in or­der] to ma­ture healthily. Kids don’t have any sense of that: they’re very present, not think­ing about the fu­ture [or] the past. But I want to help them un­der­stand that if you do the best you can to­day, you can be re­warded to­mor­row. You can make de­ci­sions that will pay you back later. I use this term: “Don’t leave crumbs.” And what that means is if you lie, cheat and steal, you’re leav­ing crumbs. Be­cause wher­ever you go for the rest of your life, you’re go­ing to have to look over your shoul­der. That’s some­thing I’m work­ing on my­self and try­ing to ap­ply as a par­ent. How do you teach chil­dren that? When I won the Os­car [for Dal­las Buy­ers Club], my son was in­fat­u­ated that I was win­ning these tro­phies. He said, “Papa, what are those for?” I said, “Well, you re­mem­ber a year and a half ago when Papa was re­ally skinny and do­ing all that work in New Or­leans and you thought I looked like a gi­raffe? The work I did a year and a half ago, peo­ple are say­ing now, ‘Hey, you did re­ally good work,’ and I got a tro­phy for it.” So it was like: look, you can do some­thing now – whether it’s work, or how you deal with your friends, or your mother, or your­self – that later on you can be re­warded for. You took a ca­reer break to re­brand your­self af­ter mak­ing a run of rom-coms in the noughties. Do you pick roles more strate­gi­cally now? I don’t know if strate­gic is the right word – it was an un-brand. I’m just choos­ing movies that, if I have a choice of 20 at the cin­ema, they’re the first one I want to see. I’m choos­ing char­ac­ters I’m hop­ing I can be the only guy to play, that scare me a bit be­cause I’m not sure what to do with them but want to find out. So what do you do when all the parts you’re be­ing of­fered don’t in­spire you? I do one of two things: barge in with will and force and cre­ate some­thing and make a path for my­self that will work; or sit still and think I don’t need to talk my­self into it. It’s not for me if I’m not al­ready ob­sessed with it. If I’m not los­ing sleep at the thought of not hav­ing this role, maybe that’s a sign I shouldn’t do it. Your new movie, The Dark Tower, is based on a se­ries of books by Stephen King. His fans are no­to­ri­ously avid. Are you pre­pared for a Twit­ter storm if they don’t like it? Sure. There’s no way you can do any­thing that’s go­ing to please ev­ery­body. I learnt that a long time ago. You play a char­ac­ter who is ba­si­cally the devil. How do you pre­pare for that? I thought, “What would the devil be like if he was hu­man?” The story is the mythic dark tale of Chris­tian­ity, of good ver­sus evil since the be­gin­ning of time. I try to do my best to por­tray a real hu­man who has real blood and isn’t a ro­bot and ac­tu­ally be­lieves some things.

“I love Aus­tralians! I still have friends there and have had a lot of won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ences”

`` who says i don´t play the bon­gos naked any­more?´´

The char­ac­ter also has re­ally long nails. Were they your own? I grew mine out a bit, and I kind of miss them. They weren’t as an­noy­ing as I thought they were go­ing to be. They were quite nice for pick­ing up fine de­tails. But they are still small pota­toes in terms of the huge phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions you’ve un­der­gone for roles in the past. Tell us, which was the trick­i­est? Well, in Gold, I put on 20 kilo­grams. That was more fun than los­ing 21 kilo­grams for Dal­las Buy­ers Club. What did you eat to put on all that weight? Cheese­burg­ers and beer. Never got tired of it, either. You’ve said be­fore that van­ity can ac­tu­ally serve you in life. Are you vain? Sure! It’s helped me in more sit­u­a­tions than not. I like to try to be as pure as pos­si­ble, but some­times I don’t make the cut. You’ve also taken to di­rect­ing ads for bour­bon – would you say yes to more di­rect­ing in the fu­ture? Yeah, I’m go­ing to do two more years for Wild Turkey. I’m work­ing on a doc­u­men­tary right now that I’d like to di­rect. I’m also look­ing [to do] com­edy be­cause I haven’t done that in a while. Whether it will be a film or a one-off play, I’m not sure. Are you sick of Aus­tralians try­ing to claim you as their own af­ter you lived here in the ’80s? Oh no, I still love you guys! I still have friends there. I re­ally en­joy the coun­try, and have a lot of won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ences from Aus­tralia. Will you ever es­cape be­ing the guy who played the bon­gos naked? Who says I don’t do that any­more?

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