Matthew McConaughey won his first major award yesterday when he went home with the best actor Golden Globe for his powerhouse performance in Dallas Buyers Club. However, he still has his son to keep him grounded, who told him “I really hope you win Papa, but you’re going to lose.”
Indeed, this award might well be considered overdue when you consider his portrayals of a religious leader with a political edge in Contact, and the ideological lawyer in A Time to Kill, but last night he finally got the recognition he may already have deserved.
McConaughy started his acceptance speech with a favourite line from Dazed and Confused “Alright, alright, alright.” It was the end result of taking on a role that required him to lose 40 pounds, and show the audience the fundamental personal change of a homophobic and macho rodeo rider, who had to put his prejudices aside for the sake of a common goal.
Of the film McConaughey said “This film took 20 years to get made. People declined to make it 86 times. We got together with a group of people who laid skin on the ground. That was one thing. A year later, it’s living. It’s very present. And I’m standing up here with a Golden Globe. That’s incredibly rewarding.” Now he has something he can take home to his family and allay any doubts they also had.
The film itself follows a hard living electrician and rodeo bull rider, Ron Woodroof, who through a lifestyle of drug abuse and casual sex contracts the AIDS virus. When his doctors tell him he only has 30 days to live he starts to search out any treatment he can find. He finds hope in a new drug called AZT, but the drug is only at a stage of undergoing clinical trials in the US, and is therefore not cleared by the FDA. This sets McConaughey off on a mission to bring these drugs into the US by any means he can, and through his determination that anyone should have the chance to have them, he ends up in a strained partnership with a transvestite named Rayon, who is also HIV+. As McConaughey fights doctors who disapprove of breaking clinical protocols and the FDA itself, he finds a sympathetic ally in Dr Eve Saks, played by Jennifer Garner.
The budget on Dallas Buyers Club was just $5.5 million (in comparison with Contact’s $90 million back in 1997) and took in $16 million at the box office, which makes Buyers Club a major victory for McConaughey’s acting presence.
The awards didn’t stop with McConaughey, Jared Lato took home the best supporting actor Golden Globe for his portrayal of Rayon.
The days of Matthew McConaughey taking roles as a romantic lead, or worse a himbo, are apparently over. “I have been choosing roles that shook my floor,” said McConaughey, “that challenged me in a way where I said, ‘I am not sure what I am going to do with this, but I can’t wait.’ I have been choosing directors and stories that I haven’t seen before and characters, men with real identities.”
The seeking out of these more challenging roles may well give McConaughey many more wins despite his family’s doubts.
By Andrew Willig