Most professionals looking to achieve international success spend years, sometimes decades, developing a personal brand for themselves. Yet very few make a conscious effort to reinvent their careers once they have already accomplished their goals, and even less so do it well.
Matthew McConaughey is one of those few. His 2013 Golden Globe acceptance speech was the final step in the 45-year-old’s highly successful career transformation from rom-com poster boy to one of the most honest and dynamic actors in Hollywood and on television.
After his breakout role in Dazed and Confused in 1993, McConaughey spent half a decade starring in thriller and drama films, before falling into a trap that claims many young actors; he was typecast as the leading man in a long and tedious run of romantic comedies.
“We felt the kind of disappointment that comes with the promise of a new Paul Newman or Steve McQueen melting into flabby, lucrative resignation. But McConaughey’s resurgence shows us that he was always a good actor; the ability was there.” – Rachel Syme, The New Yorker
McConaughey says there was no epiphany that led to his desire to take on films with more substance, but rather a slow realization that the roles he was being offered were boring and homogenous. He was no longer feeling rewarded by his work, so he made a conscious effort to reinvent his career to match his ambitions.
“I found this bit where I was saying: ‘Hey, let’s not go do one for me, one for them. Let’s go do one for me, two for me, three for me, four for me, five for me, and hope like hell it could be one for them.” -McConaughey’s diary, New York Times
While he credits 2011’s Lincoln Lawyer for sparking the career transformation, it was his provocative role as a strip club owner in 2013’s Magic Mike that cemented his rebranding as an actor with substance. His role as a tortured strip club owner embraced his past personas, but brought a new element of tension and tragedy to the character. There was a level of depth that was undeniably missing from his earlier roles.
“What the McConaissance is about—if it is really about anything—is the clever (and purposeful) undoing of a mythos and the embrace of a more authentic McConaughey, even if that reveals something grimy and sad beneath the creamy Texas accent.”- Rachel Syme, The New Yorker
McConaughey’s dramatic career reinvention serves as a testament to anyone who isn’t being rewarded by their careers. There is no transformation too dramatic and no stakes too high to stop you from pursuing your ambitions.
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The McConaissance, The New Yorker
Image Credit: The LA Times
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