Friday, 27 September 2013

FSF #6 - Acting Masterclass: Matthew McConaughey


Last week, Film School Friday taught the living dead how to survive as zombies in an apocalyptic future... what do you mean that was a pointless lesson? You won't be saying that when some moron drops a test tube and infects the whole're welcome! This got me thinking though. Have you ever met someone who is just going through the motions? Even rich successful people can become complacent, coasting from day to day, taking the easy options. There was a time in the mid-noughties when Matthew McConaughey actually became a zombie, lurching from rom-com to rom-com like a lovesick Romero extra, devouring Kate Hudson's face at every opportunity...See what I did there?

McConaughey Kate HudsonThis week, I thought we could try something a bit different. Instead of one of our regular lessons, today we're going to take an acting masterclass from the King of the Comeback, Matthew McConaughey. The Texan star knows better than most what it's like to be at the bottom of the casting call sheet, but things are now looking up for McConaughey, with even talk of a potential Oscar nomination in the near future. And no, Most Frequently Topless is not an actual category. Anyway, if you want to follow McConaughey's example, then dust off the suntan lotion, grab a surfboard and grate some cheese on those abs as we help revive your dying career.

Lesson #6 - Acting Masterclass: Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey has had an incredible career trajectory and you can too if you follow these three easy steps:

1) Get noticed.
2) Lower expectations.
3) Avoid Kate Hudson.

Thanks for reading. I hope this has been useful and... oh wait. Let me break things down a bit more for the Michael Bay fans out there.

Get Noticed

This may sound like hard work but you've got to make a good impression from the get go.  The trick here is to start as you mean to go on. Show audiences what you're good at, whether you prefer playing serious dramatic roles like Meryl Streep or sexy Southern sleazeballs like McConaughey. See Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused (1993) for an early example from McConaughey, where he played lovable high school dropout David Wooderson.

Nothing wrong with being a little bit pervy. That's how all sex symbols started out. Right Miley?

Once you've got your name out there, surprise audiences with a range of interesting roles that span different genres. A Time To Kill, Amistad, Contact... Matthew McConaughey excelled in each of these films and built up a respectable name for himself throughout the 90s. This is key for the next step.

McConaughey Failure To LaunchLower Expectations

So people respect you and directors as acclaimed as Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg have you on speed dial. Now is the perfect time to throw this all away. Hear me out guys. After McConaughey played himself in Sex And The City, the Texan star seemed to develop an addiction to bland romantic comedies. I don't know what Sarah Jessica Parker did to McConaughey, but I'm fairly certain that she's a witch. Don't worry though. Starring in horrendous trash like The Wedding Planner, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and Failure To Launch will do wonders for your career in the long run. Just tell your agent that you will say yes to anything. Literally anything. If Margot Kidder stumbles into your garden with a camera strapped to her arm, let your agent know that you're booked up for the next six months. Trust me here.

By the time McConaughey made Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, even his own mother had given up on his career but you know what? That's ok. This stage in the plan is all about lowering expectations so that your upcoming movie releases are about as highly anticipated as a Uwe Boll film starring Katherine Heigl and Matthew Broderick as accountants. Actually, that could be pretty awesome...

Avoid Kate Hudson

You've played the waiting game. People no longer respect you as an actor and your career is at an all-time low. Perfect. Now is the time to confound expectations by actually saying no to certain roles, specifically those starring Kate Hudson. Start off with an interesting cameo in a guaranteed hit, like Tropic Thunder for example (I didn't say that the film had to be any good). It's all about reminding audiences and casting directors that you used to be a good actor before you sold out.

You've now reached the most crucial part of the plan. Your career is dying and you've begun to say no to the Rom-Coms. What now?

Revisit Your Past

The Lincoln Lawyer marked the return of McConaughey as a serious actor and yes, while the film was quite good, career-wise, it also reminded audiences of Matthews breakout part in A Time To KillBoth films featured McConaughey as an ambitious Southern lawyer and although this was not a particularly original move for the star, it was still a break away from the charming and frequently topless ladies man we had come to know and loathe over the previous decade. The lesson here is to play it safe with a role that you're known for yet is still respectable. If you played a member of the Klu Klux Klan successfully near the beginning of your career, then there's no harm in playing a similar role again, as long as the character is likable. Ok, bad example, but you get the idea.

magic mike2Dress Down

If you haven't already, think about getting into shape. Nothing helps a dying career like a ridiculous body. McConaughey was apparently born with abs so that helps, but there's no denying the fact that his rock hard body helped land him one of the best roles of his life. Magic Mike was a huge surprise smash and you never know when these opportunities can come along for you also, so try your best to maintain the pecs well into middle age. One day, you too may star in a cerebral drama wearing leather trousers, a leather vest and a presumably leather cowboy hat. Cross those musclebound fingers.

Go Psycho And/Or Gay

Known for being a ladies man? Confound expectations by playing a mentally deranged contract killer who has a thing for chicken. Not only will you surprise critics, but you'll increase KFC sales by over 1000%. Now, I'm not saying you have to star in a film as extreme as Killer Joe but publicists love controversy. Hmmmm what else? Well, minorities always play well with critics. However, short of risking another minstrel show catastrophe like Cloud Atlas, changing your race is pretty much out of the question. Changing gender can also be tricky too if you haven't got the face for it so that leaves... becoming gay! Just for a role of course. Unless you're one of Hollywood's many closeted actors but that's a whole other story. McConaughey impressed as a surpressed homosexual in The Paperboy, expanding his acting repertoire even further. This will all help for the final hurdle...
McConaughey dallas buyers club
Chase That Oscar!

So you've played a variety of roles that have been received well by both critics and audiences alike. The gay thing helped you gain some awards buzz, but what you need really need now is a certified Oscar contender. Hello real life illness drama! In McConaughey's case, his upcoming part as HIV victim Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club is looking to be a dead cert for nominations come awards season, but your character doesn't necessarily have to be HIV positive. Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, cancer; all these illnesses and more have paved the way for Academy Award nominations. Just do it sensitively guys. This kind of stuff affects lives.

Congratulations loyal readers. Not only is your career on the up now, but you've even been awarded prestigious nominations for your acting talent. Thanks Matt! Remember to come back next week for another edition of Film School Friday, where I'll be teaching you how to make a Disney princess fall in love with you. That's right. Living the dream. And keep those ideas coming. Scraping the barrel doesn't even begin to cover what I've lined up for you all!

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