Matthew McConaughey has two movies out this month. In one, he gives voice to an animated koala who organizes a singing contest. In the other, he plays a schlubby dreamer turned jungle adventurer.
The details are not important. The main thing is, the movies will keep him in the public eye — talk shows, awards ceremonies, magazine covers — continuing the much-remarked-upon McConnaissance that went into effect when, in a self-empowering move, he gave up rom-coms for more challenging fare.
But if you think of him as a mere movie star, you’re wrong. His work with directors Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Richard Linklater and Steven Soderbergh has served to provide him cover. McConaughey has really been a guru all along.
Over a period of more than 20 years, almost unnoticed, he has been building a religion of sorts. Call it the Tao of Matthew McConaughey. He preaches to his flock largely through the media of men’s magazines and television commercials.
Take the Lincoln campaign. McConaughey didn’t need a free car when he began pitching the Lincoln MKC in 2014. What he did need was a platform to get his message across.
So while other A-list pitchmen (like Jon Hamm, George Clooney and Jeff Bridges) play the game with just enough enthusiasm to earn the huge paychecks, McConaughey goes deep.
A foundational part of his myth is the 1999 night when he was booked on a charge of suspected marijuana possession after he was arrested at his home in Austin, Texas, where he was dancing naked and playing the bongos at 3 a.m. (Who knew joy was against the law?)