Matthew McConaughey Defends the Romantic Comedy Genre

When Matthew McConaughey began receiving raves for a string of dramatic roles in films like “Mud,” “Killer Joe” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” there were many who praised the actor for turning his back on the romantic comedies that helped make him a star. McConaughey himself was not one of them.

“I love those movies,” he said in an interview with Variety in January, shortly before winning the Academy Award, praising hits like “The Wedding Planner” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” He even defended the ones that weren’t as well received. “ ‘Failure to Launch’ got panned, but I like it!”

McConaughey is well aware of the spin that others try to put on his career; that he abandoned easy roles and paychecks for darker parts. “The narrative that people keep wanting to get at is the then and now,” he said. “The then and now narrative is that romcoms aren’t critical hits and they’re easy. And they’re not.”

In fact, the actor said that a lot of effort goes into making the genre look easy. “It’s a hard challenge to make it work, to tell a story you’ve seen time and time again that you know what the ending its going to be,” he continued. “The whole gig is — “at this point, McConaughey broke into song, “ ‘Stay off of my cloud!’ You have to sing the song, dance between the raindrops. And you have to really mean it. You drop anchor in one of those movies, and the whole thing sinks.”

Mark Waters, who directed McConaughey in “Ghost of Girlfriends Past,” noted that the actor was willing to do something many actors in the genre won’t — be unlikable. “The film is basically the romantic comedy version of Scrooge — who’s kind of a prick, who kind of learns to not be a prick,” said Waters. “And that was why I thought that little bit of a rascally edge that he has was what made him so perfect for it. He’s able to kind of like treat women badly, but still be endearing. And that’s why he pulled it off. He wasn’t scared to not be likable.”

McConaughey’s current slate of film projects tend toward the dramatic — he’ll next be seen in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic “Interstellar” and just wrapped the lead in Gus Van Sant’s “Sea of Trees.” However, he has not sworn off the romantic comedy genre entirely. “I didn’t suddenly become a snob to those movies, as some people think I did,” he said. “I enjoy making them and I could do another one.”

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