Matthew McConaughey: The Interview
Failure to Launch
by Tim Nasson, Wild About Movies publisher
February 25, 2006
New York City – The title alone of Matthew McConaughey’s latest film – "Failure to Launch" – may give some, including Matthew himself, reason to pause – and laugh!
"It has been a while since I have had a hit movie," he chuckles.
The thirty-six year old "Sexiest Man Alive" – yes, he is currently People Magazine’s choice for world’s hottest male specimen – has not struck gold at the box office, as of late.
It has been three years since he has had a hit – with Paramount’s "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days." That film, in which he was paired with the charming Kate Hudson, went on to earn over $100 million at theaters, nationwide.
For two years, though, after that, the world neither saw nor heard from McConaughey – unless they happened to come upon him hiking or camping in some exotic locale. The man is one with nature, and it shows not only in his appearance, but in his conversations and actions.
Then came another Paramount film, "Sahara," costarring his current fling, the ex-Ms. Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz. (More about their relationship in a minute.) That film, in which McConaughey was executive producer – he had bought the rights to a few more Clive Cussler books – was not the hit he had expected it to be. "Sahara" cost more than $130 million to make, yet took in less than $70 million.
Can Sarah Jessica Parker, McConaughey’s costar in "Failure to Launch," help salvage his movie career, a career that began in the early 90s with "Dazed And Confused" and the now classic "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre," opposite another, then unknown, Rene Zellweger?
I sat with McConaughey, this most recent time, in a suite at The Essex House in New York City, the afternoon in which a record breaking blizzard began blanketing the city.
McConaughey, unlike most celebrities who walk into an interview with a bottle of Fiji water or Starbucks cappuccino in hand, arrived with a bottle of Kombucha Wonder Drink, an organic sparkling tea.
"I am here, on this great earth, to live my life," says McConaughey, when we start talking about not only his career but choices in life, including girlfriends. "No one else is going to be walking in my shoes for me, so every decision I make, I have to live with. But I answer to myself for every decision I make. Not every movie I make is going to make $200 million. I wish one would make, that," he says, laughing.
"I am very excited about ‘Failure to Launch.’ The cast is a dream cast," he says, referring to Academy Award winning actress Kathy Bates, who plays his mother, and Terry Bradshaw, in his first big screen role. "Where else could you have an Academy Award winning actress playing your mother, and a four-time Super Bowl champion, playing your father? Only in Hollywood. And it worked. And Sarah Jessica Parker? Come on."
In "Failure To Launch," McConaughey plays a thirty-something still living at home with his parents, who can’t seem to get the motivation to move out and start life on his own – a far cry from the real life McConaughey.
"I loved my parents while I was growing up, [McConaughey’s father died in 1992, before his movie career began], but I couldn’t wait to get out and start my own life," he says. "But Tripp on the other hand [McConaughey’s character in "Failure To Launch"] is another story. He is proud to still be living at home at thirty-five, or whatever age he is."
While Tripp is living it up at home – he thinks of it as a hotel, with his mother doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning – his parents have other ideas. They hire a professional, Sarah Jessica Parker, to get him out of their house. It’s just that, well, Tripp doesn’t know that the woman he is falling in love with has been hired, by his parents, to get him out of the only home he has known.
While McConaughey and Penelope Cruz are an item, their different schedules allow for time alone and apart from each other – and which allows McConaughey ample time to explore areas of the world that Cruz probably wouldn’t be caught dead in.
When it comes to the paparazzi, McConaughey is unlike many of his peers. I ask him how he keeps out of the tabloids. It can’t be that they are not interested in his and Cruz’s affair.
"The name of my production company, ‘Just Keep Livin,’ (which, incidentally, is emblazoned on the white T-shirt that McConaughey is wearing, under a full length black winter coat), is what it’s all about. I don’t hide from anyone. I will go where I want, when I want, with whomever I want. If I have a booger on my nose, or spinach in my teeth, oh well. I don’t create drama, with bodyguards and personal assistants always around me, attracting attention." Have no doubt. While McConaughey, who attributes a big breakfast to his well being, doesn’t need bodyguards, he is his own best protection, what with one of, if not the most fit bodies in the entertainment world today.
"The funniest thing that happened not too long ago," recalls McConaughey. "I was being driven back to my hotel from some event and the driver was going about ninety on Sunset Boulevard. I told the driver to slow down, and he turned around and said, ‘But the people are chasing you with cameras.’ And I said, ‘Yes. Cameras. Not guns. Who cares?’"
One wonders how many more paparazzi would be chasing McConaughey down Sunset Blvd, and any other street, and how his image of them would be, if he hadn’t turned down, and accepted a role that ultimately went to Leonardo DiCaprio, in a little movie called "Titanic."
"Failure to Launch" opens in theaters March 10th.
In addition to Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw, the film stars Bradley Cooper (the bad guy in "Wedding Crashers"), Justin Bartha (from the upcoming NBC sitcom, "Teachers"), as Tripp’s best friends and the radiant Zoey Deschanel.