Hollywood’s hottest Texan has been charming audiences for years with his friendly drawl and dimpled smile. Matthew McConaughey has worked with several respected directors over the years and has taken chances with different genres including comedy, drama, action, horror, indie, and romantic comedy. In his latest film, Mud, he plays a mysterious fugitive; and more juicy parts are on the way. He teams up with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street (coming out later this year), will play an AIDS patient looking for drug alternatives in Dallas Buyers Club, and was recently cast in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi project, Interstellar. These intriguing projects, along with his continued risk-taking and growth as an actor, have kept him in demand in the industry. Let’s look back at his eclectic film career.

 

THE UP AND COMING GOOD OL’ BOY

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused

 

Dazed and Confused (1993)

As a tween in 1994, McConaughey first caught my attention as “the cute baseball player” in Disney’s Angels in the Outfield starring the young Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but most people first remember him as easy-going, stoner-wisdom stud David Wooderson in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. The lauded cult classic follows a group of high school kids anticipating the summer of 1976; and features a vibrant ensemble of other future stars (including Ben Affleck and Parker Posey). McConaughey was so good in the part, Linklater expanded the minor three-scene role to over 300 lines. McConaughey collaborated again with Linklater in 1998’s The Newton Boys and 2011’s Bernie.

 

TAKING ON SERIOUS ROLES

 

A Time to Kill

A Time to Kill

 

A Time to Kill (1996)

Hot off the heels of the critically acclaimed Lone Star, McConaughey landed his breakthrough role in Joel Schumacher’s A Time to Kill, playing a young Southern lawyer in the John Grisham adaption. Starring alongside Sandra Bullock and Samuel L. Jackson (whose careers were red-hot at the time), the high-profile role helped McConaughey become one of the most talked about “It” actors of 1996. He again played a lawyer in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad in 1997. (Interestingly, McConaughey was in the middle of pursuing a law career while at University of Texas in Austin before falling in love with acting).

 

Contact

Contact

 

Contact (1997)

In another high-profile role, McConaughey played a spiritual adviser opposite Jodie Foster’s driven scientist in Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis. The contemplative sci-fi drama dealt with discovering possible life beyond earth, their communications, and the battle/connection between science and religion.

 

LEADING MAN STATUS

EDtv

EDtv

 

EDtv (1999)

This movie was interesting in that it came out about the same time as the similar-themed The Truman Show, and that both films were an eerie foreshadowing of what was to come in television for the next decade. Ron Howard directs McConaughey as average guy Ed who agrees to have his life filmed 24/7. Woody Harrelson is perfectly cast as Ed’s brother.

 

U-571

U-571

 

U-571 (2000)

McConaughey plays Lt. Andrew Tyler in the World War II era submarine action thriller. The film was both a financial and critical success.

 

Sahara

Sahara

 

Sahara (2005)

McConaughey is dashing as explorer Dirk Pitt in Clive Cussler’s desert adventure, Sahara. The gorgeous Penélope Cruz and funny Steve Zahn join the fun as Pitt searches for a Civil War battleship in West Africa. The year the movie came out (2005), McConaughey was also crowned People’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”

 

The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

In this suspenseful court drama, McConaughey plays smooth defense attorney Mick Haller. (The title refers to the character’s Lincoln Town Car). Mick wrestles with his ethics as he becomes suspicious of his wealthy client. The movie was praised for McConaughey’s sparkling performance and having a solid cast (including Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, and Ryan Phillippe).

 

ROMANTIC COMEDY CHARMER

 

The Wedding Planner

The Wedding Planner

 

The Wedding Planner (2001)

His foray into the romantic comedy world was a huge success. The film paired McConaughey’s groom-to-be with Jennifer Lopez’s unlucky-in-love wedding planner. Do they get together? I’m not telling! (But you probably already know). This cemented his clout with the female audience, making use of his inescapable charm and similar roles followed.

 

How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days

How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days

 

Fool's Gold

Fool’s Gold

 

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) / Fool’s Gold (2008)

Audiences loved the chemistry between McConaughey and Kate Hudson so much in How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days (where both are trying to get rid of each other in a bet), the actors reteamed for Fool’s Gold, an adventurous treasure hunt film. He continued his rascal-like romantic lead roles with Failure to Launch (2006) opposite Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009) with Jennifer Garner.

 

STILL GOING STRONG 

 

Magic Mike

Magic Mike

 

Magic Mike

Ok, so playing a sexy former stripper seems like a no-brainer in casting, but surprisingly Magic Mike turned out to be more than just a fluffy female fantasy. It garnered McConaughey some of the best reviews of his career, with many even championing him for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. While that didn’t pan out, he did receive several acting awards for the role, opened up a new phase in his career, and has proven he’s more than just a set of washboard abs.