With 'Free State of Jones,' Matthew McConaughey continues his run of Oscar-baiting roles, playing a Southern farmer who enlists slaves and other farmers to rebel against the Confederate army. Let's look at some of his most noteworthy screen appearances over the last 20-plus years.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
“Alright, alright, alright.” McConaughey made his acting debut in this early Richard Linklater film as David Wooderson, a sleazy twentysomething ladies' man who just can’t leave high school behind.
A Time to Kill (1996)
In the 1990s Hollywood was obsessed with bringing John Grisham novels to the screen. This particular adaptation, directed by Joel Schumacher, is credited as the actor’s breakout Hollywood role, playing an untested Southern attorney struggling to defend a black man (Samuel L. Jackson) who is charged with murdering the men who raped his daughter.
McConaughey appears as a man of faith opposite Jodie Foster’s intrepid scientist in this adaptation of Carl Sagan’s sci-fi novel. Consider it a practice run for ‘Interstellar.’
Though not very historically accurate, this WWII thriller about Navy submariners hijacking a German U-boat was a hit with critics, with McConaughey earning much praise for his role as the commanding officer.
The Wedding Planner (2001)
With this popular film, McConaughey kicked off a decade of romantic comedies. This one finds him starring opposite Jennifer Lopez, who plays a frazzled wedding planner.
Reign of Fire (2002)
McConaughey shaved his head and showed off his muscles as he and a pre-Batman Christian Bale teamed up to battle dragons in this postapocalyptic action film.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Kate Hudson headlined this hit romantic comedy as a writer determined to prove she could convince her doting boyfriend (McConaughey) to break up with her within 10 days. Her loss.
We Are Marshall (2006)
No Hollywood star’s resume is complete without a high school sports drama. McConaughey anchors this biopic about a football team struggling to rebuild after a devastating plane crash.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
After years of cashing checks for mostly forgettable rom-coms, McConaughey kickstarted his career with this low-key legal drama, playing a lawyer who works out of his car rather than a swanky office. The well-acted film primed us for his "McConaissance."
Killer Joe (2011)
A small-time drug dealer turns to a detective who's also a part-time assassin (McConaughey) to kill his mother in this absurdly dark and funny (and woefully underseen) NC-17 trailer-park drama from William Friedkin. Its climax is not for the faint of heart, and you'll probably feel like showering after.
Magic Mike (2012)
McConaughey’s charisma and abs were on full display in this box office hit, as he plays the owner of a male strip club who mentors the titular character (Channing Tatum). While the Steven Soderbergh film -- and McConaughey’s performance -- received heaps of praise, the actor was surprisingly denied an Oscar nom. But his next film more than made up for it....
Dallas Buyer’s Club (2013)
McConaughey won the Best Actor Oscar -- and a slew of other awards -- for his magnetic performance in this drama about a good ol’ boy stricken by AIDS in 1980s-era Dallas. The only thing more powerful than his acting was his Oscar speech (skip to the minute mark).
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Martin Scorsese's dizzying film lets the actor play a kooky stockbroker -- prone to lunchtime cocktails and chest-pounding chants -- as he takes up-and-comer Leonardo DiCaprio under his wing. It was a brief, but hilarious, scene.
True Detective (HBO, 2014)
We'd be remiss if we left this TV series off the list, as McConaughey starred opposite Woody Harrelson as homicide detectives on a grisly case in Louisiana. After his Emmy nomination for this and his Oscar win, McConaughey has become widely regarded as one of our most talented actors working today.
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