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5 Minutes With Matthew McConaughey

(Image: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

The star talks about exploring his dark side in his new role, how he navigates the world of online, and what keeps him grounded

5 Minutes With Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey admits he’s had trouble navigating the world of social media, and cautions others about the etiquette of emailing.

“I am not yelling at you when I say, ‘ASAP’ in an email. I have to watch myself because I don’t mean, ‘Do it now!’ I mean, literally, “as soon as it’s possible.” Or when people send email with an exclamation point, like urgent, urgent, urgent. If you’re a father, you think something happened to your kids. And all they want to do is say, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ That is not urgent! Don’t do that!”

Staying on course, he continues. “How many times do you write an email and you forgot to put the exclamation point or smiley face emoji at the end and you were cracking a joke, but the person reading it was feeling down and the words literally make them go, ‘Oh my God.’ And you are going, ‘What? You didn’t get the gist of it, how I meant it.’ And that is the danger with the written word, unless you are going to take the time to write very well. But today, when we have 140 characters or less, people can get it wrong,” he says. “But at the same time, we can all probably toughen up a little bit.”

McConaughey explores his dark side in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, playing a demonic sorcerer, Walter Padick, aka The Man in Black, who wants to destroy the titular Tower, an edifice which holds the universe together. “I’ve played evil before, like in Killer Joe (2011), but all-out evil — then this would be my first time.” He plays opposite Idris Elba, his nemesis, a gunslinger who will go to any lengths to protect the Tower. Together they are embroiled in an eternal battle of good-vs-evil.

In order to play this literary figure, McConaughey dyed his hair black and went on a 10-day cleanse. “Well, I was coming off Gold (for which he gained 19 kilos). I was fat and happy at 99 [kilos], but I had to come down sometime,” he shrugs. “So I kick started that with a fast.”

He says he didn’t need to do much research to play a sinister role. “When you are going to play that baddie or the devil incarnate, there are heaps of material — all you have to do is open your eyes and look around.”

It’s debatable as to whether McConaughey actually does ‘scary’ in this loose adaption of the book, but he talks about what scares him in his own life.

“As I get older, I’m more scared of heights.” I ask him whether he’s worried about falling down stairs. Clearly, the question is decidedly un-macho for a leading man of his stature. He laughs. “No. I feel good with my spacial sense and my agility. I have no problem with stairs.” He then adds, straight-faced. “You know that feeling when you are in the open door of a helicopter, and you are standing on the edge and you feel like magnets are pulling you and you think you just might be able to pull it off?’” Well, no. The job of an entertainment reporter doesn’t require that kind of in-peril scenario. “Well, it’s a scary feeling,” he assures, “but I will still jump out of planes. I’m scared to do it, but I will.”

It’s safe to say that his kids were not at the movie’s premiere on the weekend. “My kids are nine, seven and four. They need a few more years under their belt. They didn’t visit me on set either. There weren’t many scenes that were suitable for them to see and I just wasn’t ready to go home and answer those questions,” he laughs.

Discussing the subject of good and evil, McConaughey, never short of a proverb, offers, “We have all got a good wolf and a bad wolf — the choice is, which wolf do you want to feed? And so I do my best to work each day to try to feed my good wolf. But that bad one … I feel him on my heels.”

It would seem his ‘bad wolf’ is kept at bay by his Brazilian wife of 5-years, model and designer, Camilla Alves. What is marriage like five years on?

“We still respect that covenant, and obviously we have three children now, and that takes work, but that doesn’t have to be hard — work is just part of it. You have to make sure that, although you’re driving the kids around, you make time for each other, as well. We’ve grown together and we root for each other. We root for who the other one truly is, and we throw fuel on that fire and know what turns the other one on,” he says. “That is where a relationship is also a friendship, and on the subject of what makes it successful, I would have never considered marriage with someone who wasn’t a great friend of mine.”

 

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