HOW TO PLAY A LOSER
Matthew Mcconaughey on playing against type in White Boy Rick
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY IS not alright, alright, alright. At least, he’s not in White Boy Rick, the new thriller from director Yann Demange, about a youngster (Richie Merritt) sliding into a life of crime while his fretting, helpless dad Richard Wershe Sr (Mcconaughey) watches. The star is most often seen on screen as idealistic heroes or charismatic villains; what he doesn’t usually play are schlubby losers with a mullet. Mcconaughey explained to Empire why he couldn’t turn it down.
Was this a different kind of character for you?
Yeah, it was. This is my sad country song. I had never really done a sad country song before. Vulnerable is a word that people throw around a lot, but boy, talk about vulnerable — this guy is done unto. He does not do the doing. Every scenario he’s in, he loses. He’s in denial. You know who I studied? Fredo, John Cazale’s character in The Godfather. I studied all of John Cazale’s work and it very much had that factor — the runt. With this role, I am the runt.
As an actor you seem to look for a characters of action. But this is a guy of inaction.
This was a real departure. In my work I’m usually playing men that handle the situation. They come out the other side winning, or take lumps along the way but somehow survive. This guy loses all the way through. The shit hits the fan and this guy is sitting there with his hands in his pockets. He’s sort of paralysed.
Was it the role or the story that grabbed you first?
It was both. There are three things I’m looking for: a story well told, a character that turns me on and scares me the right way, and I’m looking for a director that excites me. This had all three things. It was a role I’d never played before, but I felt like I understood the heart of the guy.”
WHITE BOY RICK IS IN CINEMAS FROM 7 DECEMBER
Top: Matthew Mcconaughey as Richard Wershe Sr. Above: Troubled son Rick Wershe Jr (Richie Merritt) with his father.
Empire spoke to Matthew Mcconaughey on 8 September at the Toronto International Film Festival.