Sandra Bullock helped Matthew McConaughey in the role that established him as a leading man

Matthew McConaughey, a versatile Hollywood actor with a career spanning decades, first gained recognition after starring in the cult classic Dazed and Confused. Despite gaining praise for his performance, he was yet to establish himself as a leading man in the industry. And he could have had that big break in James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey

The actor auditioned for Jack Dawson’s part in the romantic drama and was confident that he would get the role. However, he lost it to Leonardo DiCaprio. Nevertheless, his career took a significant turn when he landed the lead role alongside Sandra Bullock in the 1996 film A Time to Kill.

Matthew McConaughey Had His Big Break Alongside Sandra Bullock
Matthew McConaughey had his breakthrough with the 1993 film Dazed and Confused, but the role that would establish him as a leading star in Hollywood came in Joel Schumacher’s A Time to Kill. After he lost the role of Jack Dawson to Leonardo DiCaprio, he went in to audition for the thriller drama.

Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill (1996)

Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill (1996)
Based on the 1989 novel of the same name, the movie follows a young lawyer defending a black man accused of killing two men who r*ped his daughter. While it received mixed reviews, the film was a box-office hit, making over $150 million on a budget of $40 million.

The Oscar-winning actor was reportedly initially cast in a minor role as a Klansman. However, he later shared during an interview on The Howard Stern Show how his co-star, Sandra Bullock, played a significant role in landing the part of Jake Brigance for him.

Sandra Bullock’s Role in Matthew McConaughey’s Casting
During an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Matthew McConaughey shared that he wanted to play the role of Jake Brigance in the movie. However, when he suggested the same to the director Joel Schumacher, he laughed and told him, “It’s never happening.”

Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill

Matthew McConaughey as Jake Brigance
He shared that the makers were looking forward to casting prominent names, including Woody Harrelson, and Kevin Costner for the role. However, around the same time, Sandra Bullock, who was already cast to play Ellen Roark in the movie, gave a huge hit, While You Were Sleeping.

The movie made over $180 million at the box office, solidifying her status as a bankable actress. Howard Stern implied that the makers already had a Hollywood star capable of drawing large audiences. Along with that, the author of the novel, John Grisham, had a say in the casting.

A Time to Kill (1996)

A Time to Kill (1996)
While the makers were looking forward to casting big names, Grisham did not approve of any of them. Ultimately, McConaughey was called in to audition for the role and secured the part that would redefine his career.

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