What Matthew McConaughey Has Done Since True Detective Revived His Career 10 Years Ago

True Detective was a key part of McConaughey’s so-called “McConaissance”. However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the actor since 2014.

Although Matthew McConaughey is now regarded as one of Hollywood’s biggest and most bankable stars, he owes much of this reputation to his celebrated role in True Detective season 1. His performance as Rust Cohle, a street-wise and world-weary detective with a penchant for philosophy, won acclaim from critics, with the character securing cult status among fans. It comes as little surprise, therefore, to learn that McConaughey’s acting career has been enhanced in the years after the show – despite some notable blips along the way.

For much of his early career, McConaughey was best known as a rom-com leading man thanks to projects like The Wedding Planner and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. This perception changed, however, with a succession of more dramatic roles, such as The Lincoln Lawyer and Mud – kickstarting a period in his career colloquially known as the “McConaissance”. Having appeared in over 50 feature films, McConaughey owes his career to many more productions than just True Detective. However, it’s undoubtedly true that the show had a profound impact on the kind of roles he was offered and cemented his status as much more than a simple heartthrob.

True Detective Was A Major Part Of The “McConaissance”

Matthew McConaughey as Detective Rust Cohle and Woody Harrelson as Detective Marty Hart from True Detective Season 1

Although McConaughey was already appearing in more dramatic projects before True Detective, the show played a huge role in legitimizing this new career direction. A great example is the circumstances that surrounded his Academy Award win for Best Actor. Even though the film for which he was nominated, Dallas Buyers Club, came out in late 2013, the actual awards ceremony didn’t happen until March 2014 – right when excitement around his True Detective performance was at its height. The fact that the show came out in peak awards season certainly provided a boost to McConaughey’s profile, perhaps subliminally influencing the Oscars jury in the process.

There were, of course, other performances that played a role in McConaughey’s rebrand. Killer Joe, Bernie, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Interstellar were all important milestones that proved Dallas Buyers Club was no high-profile fluke. However, the popular appeal of True Detective and the show’s status as a genuine TV game-changer meant that it was perhaps the biggest factor in McConaughey finally moving past the projects that had previously defined him. It’s telling that, despite a decade having passed since its release, TrueDetective season 1 remains one of the select McConaughey projects to have had a lasting impact.

Matthew McConaughey’s Biggest Roles After True Detective

True Detective season 1 Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

While many of McConaughey’s movies in the early 2010s were critical hits, his biggest commercial roles came after True Detective season 1. His greatest success was probably the leading role in Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending space epic Interstellar, which made over $730 million at the global box office. Although very different tonally, McConaughey has also featured in other hits like the Sing series, which have made over $1 billion in just two films. McConaughey’s other critical and commercial hits since 2014 include Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen, the acclaimed animation Kubo and the Two Strings, and the more divisive Free State of Jones. However, despite these successes, it hasn’t all been plain sailing since True Detective.

Matthew McConaughey Had Several Flops – And Took A Break From Acting

Abbey Lee and Matthew McConaughey look serious in The Dark Tower

Although True Detective was a positive milestone in McConaughey’s career, it’s also true that it represents something of a turning point. Alongside success stories like Interstellar, McConaughey has also experienced several setbacks, appearing in a succession of movies that have failed to live up to expectations. Some of the most notable flops from this period include the notorious failed adaptation of The Dark Tower, which made just $113 million against a $66 million budget and was panned by critics for its failure to honor its popular source material.

The nadir of this relatively barren spell probably came in 2019. With the exception of The Gentlemen (which was generally enjoyed by critics), and Between Two Ferns: The Movie, McConaughey’s other two releases that year were critical and commercial flops – especially Serenity. The thriller, which also starred Anne Hathaway, was seen by some critics as a regression for McConaughey, having more in common with his early 2000s projects than the likes of True Detective. These failures prompted McConaughey to take an extended break from acting, only appearing in Sing 2 in a voice role since 2019. Although he has also featured in Netflix’s Agent Elvis animated series, he’s yet to recapture the magic of the peak McConaissance era.

What Matthew McConaughey Is Doing Next

Image of Matthew McConaughey wearing a cowboy hat in Killer Joe and Kevin Costner as John Dutton wearing a cowboy hat in YellowstoneWith the exception of Sing 2, McConaughey has been in a self-imposed acting exile for approaching five years. However, there are signs that this barren spell is set to come to an end. The 54-year-old is slated to appear in the upcoming 2024 release The Rivals of Amziah King – an original crime thriller from Black Bear Productions. While concrete plot details remain sketchy, McConaughey looks set to play Amziah King himself, with the movie itself described as a “deeply atmospheric, character-focused crime thriller set against the unique backdrop of remote Oklahoma.” Director Andrew Patterson previously helmed the acclaimed The Vast Of Night, suggesting McConaughey’s return is in safe hands.

Away from the big screen, McConaughey has several other interesting irons in the fire. Rumors abound that he is set to star in a new Yellowstone TV spin-off, although nothing has yet been confirmed. More concretely, McConaughey is set to appear in the 2024 videogame Exodus, a product of Austin-based development studio Archetype Entertainment. Although the details of what McConaughey’s role in the game will involve, it will be his first appearance in a video game ever. As is to be expected, McConaughey’s career has been varied since True Detective. However, his upcoming projects suggest that there’s plenty for his fans to be excited about.


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