Austin's legendary leading man shone on Sunday afternoon in an interview and Q&A moderated by The Village Voice's chief film critic, Scott Foundas. Always the consummate professional, McConaughey was crisp and breezy, genuine and romantic, and never overly sentimental.
McConaughey was consistently engaging, but the conversation was at its best when the actor focused on method and craft. One memorable yarn came after Foundas showed a crowd-pleasing clip of the beloved Wooderson character from Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused. McConaughey vividly recounted how he drew inspiration for the role from a reconstructed and idealized childhood hero – his brother Pat at 17. McConaughey described his enchantment with his brother's cool-guy attitude, clandestine drinking and smoking, and badass Z28 with "the best sound system in the world." The crowd particularly enjoyed McConaughey regaling his mother (who was watching from the front row) with "I never told you this" stories about his brother stashing Budweiser tallboys and throwing parties while the folks were out of town. Another standout moment was McConaughey's response during the Q&A about preparing for "sociopath" roles such as Joe Cooper in last year's chilling Killer Joe. After some insightful remarks about how he built the character around the idea of "order" – imposed at times through terrible violence – McConaughey offered just the right touch of leading-man mystery. "This is one of those 'I can't tell you' answers ... and there are some things that I've done that I won't mention," he said, beaming.
The interview portion closed with questions on McConaughey's work in Jeff Nichols' Mud, a Palme d'Or contender at Cannes that played at the Paramount on Sunday afternoon. McConaughey spoke candidly about his transition away from romantic comedies and familiar roles and toward more challenging work. Judging by his banner year in 2012, it's clear the strategy has paid off, and the crowd's response reinforced that his reputation as a sharp, charismatic, and down-to-earth leading man is well-deserved.
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