Matthew McConaughey On Why Turning Down $14.5 Million Movie Deal Was The Right Move

McConaughey says he was known as the shirtless rom-com guy, and he wanted a change.


Before he won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, Matthew McConaughey was known, perhaps primarily, for his roles in rom-coms in which he takes his shirt off. But after making many of these types of movies, McConaughey wanted to make a career turn and be "scared" and "come up bloody" with the projects he was taking on.

Despite being offered millions of dollars for these types of rom-coms, McConaughey eventually said no, and this changed everything. The actor recalled this journey and experience recently in a discussion with legendary country singer Tim McGraw on his Beyond the Influence Radio show for Apple Music Country.

"I'm the go-to guy at rom-coms. I'm living in a pad in Malibu surfing on the beach shirtless. I'm shirtless rom-com McConaughey and I'm like, 'You damn right I am, those rom-coms are paying for these houses that I'm renting on the beach, baby. Guilty. Come on.' I'm fully happy with that," he said, as relayed by The Hollywood Reporter.

But eventually, McConaughey said he wanted to take on a different challenge. "I was like, 'I want to be scared.' I want to look at something and go, 'Oh, I don't know what I'm going to do with that.' I want to dive in a pool and trust I'll come up to the other side than take the journey and come up bloody," he said.

Without mentioning the name of the project, McConaughey said he had a life-changing experience when he said no again and again to millions of dollars for one of these projects. After this, his offers dried up, as people in Hollywood apparently took notice.

"They started at an $8 million offer. I said no. They started $10 million. I say no. They go to $12.5, I said, 'No, thank you.' They go to $14.5, I said, 'Let me read that script again.' Let me tell you, at $14.5 million, it was the same words as the $8 million offer, but it was a more well-written script, sir. It was a funny script. It had more. But I said no," he said. "Now, when I said no to that, I do believe that sort an invisible lightning bolt went across Hollywood and they go, 'Oh, McConaughey is not bluffing. He ain't kidding.' Then everything stopped. Nothing came in. For another 14 to 15 months, nothing came in."

This time away from making movies "unbranded" McConaughey from his association with rom-coms, he said, and this led to a dramatic change in the roles he would play.

"Ring, guess who's [got] a new good idea for Lincoln Lawyer, for Killer Joe, for Magic Mike, for Mud, for True Detective, for Dallas Buyer's Club?" he said. "Because I found anonymity in those two years--I unbranded--and no one knew where I was. By not being around, they were like, 'You know who's a bright new idea? McConaughey for this.' Then when they came, I jumped on it."

McConaughey won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, while he was also celebrated for his more dramatic and serious performances in True Detective, Wolf of Wall Street, and Mud.

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