In his new memoir, Matthew McConaughey explains why he turned down the lucrative offer and how that decision ultimately changed his career.
Matthew McConaughey explains why he turned down a $14.5 million romantic comedy role. For a portion of his career, the Oscar winner was known as one of the pillars of the genre thanks to leading Wedding Planner, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, and Failure to Launch. But the actor has successfully transitioned to embody more complicated characters, delivering dramatic and even occasionally disturbing performances in a host of memorable films.
The shift began in 2011, as McConaughey would portray the lead character or prominent supporting players in acclaimed independent movies. His work in Bernie, Killer Joe, and Mud turned heads and helped audiences to perceive the actor in a different way. It would also open the door for McConaughey to receive an Academy Award, winning in 2014 for Dallas Buyers Club. In a new book, McConaughey reveals that he made a conscious choice to move away from romantic comedies when he turned down an unnamed project.
McConaughey discusses the decision in his memoir, Greenlights, which was released this month. According to IndieWire, while the actor enjoyed his work in the genre, he was trying to avoid the trap of only being known for certain roles. “The romantic comedies remained my only consistent box office hits, which made them my only consistent incoming offers,” the Oscar winner explained. “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.” As for why he turned down the deal, McConaughey’s reasoning is simple and succinct.
“I declined the offer. If I couldn’t do what I wanted, I wasn’t going to do what I didn’t, no matter the price.”
The potentially risky decision fundamentally altered McConaughey’s career. These days, he’s arguably more well-known for his dramatic turns than his earlier romcom work. Still, the actor’s admission is just as interesting for what it reveals about how Hollywood has changed since 2009, when McConaughey last appeared in a romantic comedy. It would be hard to imagine any performer, regardless of their name recognition, earning that kind of money for a single romcom project. That is because the genre, as a whole, has faded in terms of importance over the past decade. Elements of the romcom can be found in a superhero movie, like Spider-Man: Far From Home, or a murder mystery led by Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, but the form and presentation of a romantic comedy is no longer what it used to be.
The most notable changes that have occurred is in how romcoms are currently enjoying a resurgence on streaming platforms, most prominently Netflix, but not the big screen. In the same vein, rather than featuring established actors, these streaming selections tend to be headlined by newer talent seeking to familiarize themselves with audiences. It would be interesting to think of what might have happened if McConaughey had decided to stay in the lane that had brought him so much success. Perhaps the genre would have remained thriving for longer, bolstered by McConaughey’s singular charisma. But, on the other hand, we likely wouldn’t have seen such memorable dramatic roles by the actor. What’s undeniable is that McConaughey made a big bet on himself when he walked away from the sizable offer. In the end, it paid off.