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?