I got pretty selfish with my choices this year. I wanted something to come along that would challenge me in a new way?something that made me a little scared and excited. I was looking for very singular-minded, purely motivated characters. If you look at everyone I played, in Bernie, Magic Mike, The Paperboy, and Killer Joe, they did not pander to anyone, and they had clear obsessions. They were their own law, so to speak. Even someone like Dallas in Magic Mike — that guy lives in the cosmos. But going to that place with him really turned on the poet/rapper/P.T. Barnum in me.
To strip down to a thong in front of anybod — much less however many million people are going to watch Magic Mike for the rest of time — is very intimidating just on a human level. That was a personal I-Dare-You-McConaughey, whereas in Killer Joe there was no choreography to the undressing. You always just make sure that your privates are covered no matter what position you’re in so the camera can’t see them, and then you just try and relax and forget you’re even stripping down to nothing. After the striptease I had quite a buzz. It’s very rewarding after you do it.
Now, I went back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back: I made five movies in a row. And every single day I loved going to work because I had characters and scenes that challenged me. When the movies were done, I didn’t really have expectations for any of them?or for myself. I thought I did some good work. I thought I had a special year. And now that I’m getting thought about for some awards from people I respect, it feels like just a great big bonus. When it’s December and people are telling me they still remember my performances, that makes me happy because it means the work resonated. —Matthew McConaughey
McConaughey next appears in the drama Mud (out in April).