Matthew McConaughey is suddenly a role model. While the McConaissance exploded into full view at the Academy Awards with the actor taking home the Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club (and providing a gift to late night comedians everywhere with his rambling speech), the truth is that was a clear build-up to that moment.
Starting with 2011's The Lincoln Lawyer, McConaughey crafted an impressive run of characters, going from the psycho cop of Killer Joe to the fugitive in Mud and then onto the cocksure trader in The Wolf of Wall Street. Buyers Club’s AIDS-stricken Ron Woodruff was just the icing on the proverbial cake.
Just before that run, however, McConaughey had fallen into a rut of starring in lightweight fare like Failure to Launch and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, after showing promise early in his career in films like Lone Star and Armistad. The Texas-born actor never went away for very long, yet he managed to reinvent his image by choosing roles that offered a challenge… while still mixing in projects like Magic Mike to pay the bills. Loopy as he may be, there's a method to the madness.
That's a lesson that some of McConaughey's contemporaries should take to heart, even ones that are cashing nice paychecks for their work. Here's a look at some of his peers (in pairs) that could do with a little bit of that McConaissance magic.
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn
The Internship and Wedding Crashers costars both have a tendency to cash a check for any role that's thrown their way. There's nothing wrong with that — Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep aren't always choosy either — but there comes a time when an actor needs to commit to doing some strong work the way that McConaughey did. Wilson, thanks to his association with Wes Anderson, always has the opportunity to put a run together. It's even possible that he's already started after earning an Oscar nomination for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. Just like with his work with Anderson, however, the performance was credited more to Allen than Wilson. He needs to step away from the persona that audiences have come to expect from him and find a small movie to dazzle in.
Vaughn came through the indie ranks early on same as Wilson, so we know that he's capable. With his slightly dark manic streak, he could shine in supporting roles as McConaughey did in The Wolf of Wall Street. It also might not be a bad idea to get his buddy Jon Favreau to direct him in something hand-picked to let him flex some different acting muscles.
Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell
Much like Sandler and Ferrell's sophomoric comedies, McConaughey's various lukewarm romantic comedies weren't exactly high art, and both funnymen have shown something more than their usual silly humor on occasion: for Sandler, and Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, and Ferrell, Stranger Than Fiction, and Melinda and Melinda. Though the SNL keep primarily to broad comedy, both are smart and capable. Even though there are millions to be made by sticking to what audiences want, there are legacies to be had if they can find time to jump on roles that let them be funny in a more natural way, like McConaughey's dying schemer in Dallas Buyers Club. Being at turns oblivious and self-loathing is what comedians do on a regular basis for laughs. Letting the audience see the actual pathos that it comes from isn't the most comfortable thing in the world, but start doing it consistently for a while and they start giving you awards.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
You might argue that Damon gets plenty of kudos for his acting and Affleck has turned into a respected director and producer with an Oscar to show for it. They don't need a career renaissance. In some respect, that's true. The Good Will Hunting wunderkinds have become Hollywood elite. That said, Affleck's track record as an actor still has as many misses as hits on it (Gigli, anyone?) and Damon falls back on familiar ground more often than not. How often do you watch either of their performances and think, "Man, he's really showing me something new!"? The beauty of what McConaughey has done is that in challenging himself, he challenged our expectations for him. Damon and Affleck could both use some of that. Taking the role of Liberace's lover, opposite Michael Douglas, in HBO's Behind the Candelabra was a nice departure for Damon, but he needs to put himself to the test on a bigger stage and with more at stake. Just as McConaughey found another type of character from his native Texas to play, it might be time for Damon to find a character from Boston that can't be described as "street tough."
As for McConaughey's Dazed and Confused costar, Affleck really just needs to put himself in the hands of directors other than himself that are interested in making him work, the way that McConaughey did with William Friedkin and Martin Scorsese. He doesn't have to lose 47 lbs. for a part like McConaughey, but he needs to lose the self-awareness and fully immerse himself in a character. How great would it be to see Affleck go "all in" on a character like McConaughey did in Friedkin's Killer Joe? He is proven he's a good director… it would be nice to see him live up to the same standard as an actor.
We all know, thanks to that acceptance speech, that McConaughey looks up to his future self. His peers would do well to use the Oscar-winner's past to come up with a whole new future of their own.
Add another name to the cameo-filled cast of the long-in-the-works Anchorman sequel: Kanye West. Hollywood.com has learned that the rapper is currently filming a cameo in the film, officially titled Anchorman: The Legend Continues, set for release in December.
West was spotted filming scenes on a downtown Atlanta rooftop with returning stars Christina Applegate and Paul Rudd, a source on site tells Hollywood.com. Says our witness, "he was quite afraid of heights and required an umbrella for shade most of the time he was on the roof."
The Anchorman 2 production has set up shop in Atlanta in the past few weeks, filming scenes in Woodruff Park and the surrounding areas — plenty of which have been captured on film by prying paparazzi eyes.
West is a longtime Will Ferrell fan, having included dialogue from Blades of Glory in his song "N***s in Paris" (with Jay-Z). Following his Taylor Swift/MTV VMA controversy, he even compared himself to Ferrell's Ron Burgundy in a Twitter rant.
Let the speculation begin: What kind of character do you think Kanye's playing in the film?
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Matthew McConaughey has been known to really get into his roles (see Magic Mike), and typically fans have no complaints (see Magic Mike). But for his part in next year's The Dallas Buyer's Club, the 43-year-old actor appears to be taking his dedication to his craft a little too far.
The typically buff actor was recently spotted at LAX looking almost unrecognizable. McConaughey has said to have lost 30 pounds in an effort to play Ron Woodruff, a homophobic Texan who contracted HIV in the '80s from sharing needles.
PHOTOS: Most Startling Actor Transformations Before the movie started filming, McConaughey sat down with Larry King to talk about his sudden weight loss. "I'm drinking a lot of tea, and things like that. The first 10 days are much harder than after the first 10 days, because it takes a while for your body to understand that it has to feed off of itself." He also admitted, "I should not look healthy by the time I'm doing that film." From the look of these recent photos we can honestly say, mission accomplished! [Photo Credit: AKM-GSI] More: Matthew McConaughey Has Become an Old Man Alexander Skarsgard's Gaunt Look & Other Shocking Actor Transformations Matthew McConaughey Continues Greatest Comeback Ever, Joins 'Wolf of Wall Street' From Our Partners: See Reese Witherspoon's Adorable New Baby (PHOTOS) (Celebuzz) 60 Celeb Bikini Bodies: Guess Who?! (Celebuzz)
It's laudable to go all-in for a role, and it often seems like dramatic physical transformations are directly linked to Oscar wins (just ask Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, or Tom Hanks), but has Matthew McConaughey taken things too far? McConaughey has lost a reported 30 pounds to play electrician Ron Woodruff, a man who contracts HIV, in the upcoming The Dallas Buyer's Club. When the actor was spotted leaving church with his family on Sunday (above), McConaughey looked not only skinny, but also old and frail.
In July, McConaughey was down 15 pounds, and discussed his weight loss on Larry King's web series Larry King Now. McConaughey described the weight loss process as "a bit of a spiritual cleanse, mental cleanse." He said, "It takes a while for your body to understand that it has to feed off of itself and that you’re not going to give it something else from the outside ... I should not look healthy by the time I’m doing this." But, he promised, "I'm not sick."
Seeing McConaughey as he is now, however, it's hard to believe his words. Even before adding make-up or effects, McConaughey looks far older than his 42 years and, frankly, unwell. McConaughey certainly isn't the first actor to push his body to the extreme for the sake of a role, check out our gallery of other jaw-dropping actor transformations.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: FameFlynet]
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There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
The Magic Mike star has signed on to play Ron Woodruff, who turned to illegal drugs in a bid to combat the disease he contracted while living the high life.
McConaughey explains, "I've lost about 16 pounds; I need to lose another 15. It's for work... I've got something coming up in the middle of September... I should not look healthy by the time I'm doing this."
Asked how he's keeping the pounds off during a recent online chat with former TV newsman Larry King, the actor reveals, "It's a bit of a spiritual cleanse, mental cleanse. Drinking a lot of tea. It takes a while for your body to understand that it has to feed off of itself and that you're not going to give it something else from the outside."
And explaining more about the guy he's playing, McConaughey adds, "In the late 80s in Dallas he was a heterosexual guy, an electrician, and he got HIV through doing some... some time he spent with some ladies and doing some drugs."
The actor is set to portray real-life American cowboy Ron Woodruff, who smuggles life-saving drugs across the Mexican border after contracting the disease during the 1980s.
The project is due to begin filming in September (12) and now McConaughey, who recently beefed up to play a fit male stripper in Magic Mike, has been forced to slim down for the part.
He tells U.S. newsman Larry King's new Ora TV web series, "I'm losing some weight. I've got a role coming up in the middle of September. I've lost about 15 pounds, I've gotta lose about 15 more. I should not look healthy by the time I'm doing (filming) this."
The 42 year old still has a long way to go and the hard-working star admits the strict diet has already taken a toll on his health, adding, "It's a bit of a spiritual cleanse, mental cleanse. (I'm) drinking a lot of tea. It takes a while for your body to understand that it has to feed off of itself and that you're not going to give it something else from the outside."
The Last Samurai sure didn't come in last this weekend at the box office.
The sweeping Japanese epic, starring Tom Cruise, debut at No. 1, taking the top honors with a reasonable $24.4 million*.
Still, the figure wasn't quite what Cruise is used to getting with his opening films. Samurai failed to match the box office king's previous blockbusters including Minority Report, which opened in 2002 with $35.6 million, and Mission: Impossible 2, with a whopping $57.8 million in 2000.
"Considering what we faced on the East Coast, we're very, very pleased," Dan Fellman, president of distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures told Reuters, referring to the bad weather in that area, which dumped more than a foot of snow, closed airports and left thousands without power.
Samurai was followed by another newcomer, the hip-hoppin' Honey, which premiered in second with $14 million, while The Haunted Mansion, which almost took the top spot last week, came in third place with $9.5 million.
The delightful Elf continued to hold its own in the fourth spot with $8.1 million, while last week's No. 1 The Cat in the Hat tumbled to fifth with a measly $7.3 million.
The re-release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first installment of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, did well this week in a limited run in 126 theaters, earning a total of $431,000. Next week, the second installment The Two Towers will get a similar re-release, as fans gear up for the "Tuesday Trilogy" Dec. 16, with the first two installments playing back-to-back, leading into the opening of the third and final The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King at midnight Dec. 17.
THE TOP TEN
Warner Bros.' R-rated The Last Samurai debuting at No. 1 with an ESTIMATED $24.4 million in 2,908 theaters. Its $8,399 per theater average was the highest of any film playing wide this week.
Samurai is an epic about a battle-worn war hero who has lost his soul but finds redemption in an ancient Japanese society he once perceived as the enemy.
Directed by Edward Zwick, it stars Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Tony Goldwyn and Timothy Spall.
Universal Pictures' PG-13-rated toe-tapper Honey opened in second place with an ESTIMATED $14 million in 1,942 theaters ($7,209 per theater).
The film follows a talented dancer as she makes her way in the fast-paced world of hip-hop.
Directed by Bille Woodruff, it stars Jessica Alba, Mekhi Phifer and Lil' Romeo.
Buena Vista's PG-rated horror comedy The Haunted Mansion dropped to No. 3 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $9.5 million (-61%) at 3,122 theaters (unchanged; $3,043 per theater). The film based on the Disney theme park attraction has accumulated approximately $46.1 million so far.
Directed by David Berenbaum, it stars Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Nathaniel Parker, Marsha Thomason and Jennifer Tilly.
New Line Cinema's PG-rated holiday comedy Elf fell just one spot to fourth in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $8.1 million (-62%) at 3,119 theaters (-83 theaters; $2,605 per theater). Its cume is approximately $139.6 million.
Directed by Jon Favreau, it stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Zooey Deschanel and Mary Steenburgen.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Universal Pictures' PG-rated Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat, last week's box office champ, dropped considerably to fifth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $7.3 million (-70%) at 3,409 theaters (-55 theaters, $2,141 per theater). Its cume is approximately $85.5 million.
Directed by Bo Welch, it stars Mike Myers, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Kelly Preston, Alec Baldwin and Sean Hayes.
Miramax Films' R-rated dark comedy Bad Santa slipped just one spot down to No. 6 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $7 million (-42%) at 2,091 theaters (+86; $3,385 per theater). Its cume is approximately $27.2 million.
Directed by Terry Zwigoff, it stars Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Tony Cox and John Ritter.
Warner Bros.' R-rated horror thriller Gothika fell three notches to seventh place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $5.3 million at 2,205 theaters (-177; $2,415 per theater). Its cume is approximately $49.6 million.
Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, it stars Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Penelope Cruz and Bernard Hill.
Sony Pictures' R rated Western The Missing dropped one spot to eighth in its second week with an ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-59%) at 2,765 theaters (unchanged; $1,597 per theater). The tense drama about a frontierswomen trying to rescue her kidnapped daughter has taken in approximately $22.1 million so far.
Directed by Ron Howard, it stars Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Jenna Boyd and Eric Schweig.
Twentieth Century Fox's PG-13-rated naval epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World fell three places to take ninth in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $3.8 million (-68%) at 2,344 theaters (-359 theaters; $1,621 per theater). Its cume is approximately $72.6 million.
Directed by Peter Weir, it stars Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany.
Universal Pictures' R-rated romantic comedy Love Actually rounded out the top 10 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $3.7 million (-55%) in 1,672 theaters (-34 theaters; $2,213 per theater). Its cume is approximately $48.9 million.
Directed and written by Richard Curtis, it stars Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley and Bill Nighy.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $91.7 million, down 27.18 percent from last weekend's $126 million take but up a hefty 33.90 percent from last year's $68.5 million.
Last year, MGM's PG-13-rated Die Another Day stayed in first place in its third week with $12.8 million at 3,347 theaters ($3,837 per theater); Warner Bros. R-rated sequel Analyze That debuted in second place with $11 million in 2,635 theaters ($4,188 per theater); and Warner Bros.' PG-rated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets dropped to third in its fourth week with $10 million in 3,387 theaters ($2,978 per theater).