Matthew McConaughey

By Mitchell, Wendy | Screen International, November 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

Matthew McConaughey


Mitchell, Wendy, Screen International


Matthew McConaughey overcame his fear of stripping to create the memorable Dallas in Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike. Wendy Mitchell talks to the actor, who is having a career boom playing a whole gang of outlaws.

There are not many top actors who bare themselves to hundreds of flesh-hungry women for the sake of their craft.

As Dallas in Steven Soderbergh's hit Magic Mike, Matthew McConaughey exposed himself in a way that few peers would dare -- playing the boss of a male strip revue in Tampa, Florida, who delivers a raucous goodbye striptease that sees him gyrate on stage wearing only a small thong and cowboy boots.

"It got wild, it got very wild," McConaughey remembers of shooting his pivotal stripping scene. "I had my thong ripped off at the end. One of [the women] popped that leather string on the side. I cupped my hand and rolled out of the situation. We wanted to have that wild anarchic sense of fun. I was doing my part to provoke them, that's what Dallas would have done."

Strolling off stage holding his thong was much more than he bargained for when Soderbergh initially contacted him about the role.

"He pitched a story of this male stripper world. And he said, you know, there's this guy Dallas who runs the club... I just found it hilarious right off the bat. And my mind started racing with ideas and I said, 'I would love to be in that picture, could you even give me one line?'

"We talked about tone. On the phone that night, he said, 'You know, if you play this guy straight... it's going to be hilarious.' And I felt the same way about it, so from there I just started letting my imagination run, 'cause obviously this is a character changing the rules and he's living in a world where you can make up your own rules."

McConaughey thought a lot about the backstory of the character and drew inspiration from the likes of Jim Morrison, Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange and circus impresario PT Barnum.

In his trademark Texan accent, he says: "It was about finding and creating this very larger than life, lightning rod of a character... the character was written on the page as sort of a launch pad for me to fly. And if Steven liked the track I was going on, he gave me the thumbs-up. And maybe suggested another wild idea. I came loaded; if you're going to work with Steven, you better come loaded... I think he really appreciates a strong opinion and he casts you for a reason."

McConaughey, who is now 43, got over his "major fear" of performing the strip scene and was even inspired enough to suggest ideas for his costume's rip-away back pockets and tearaway boots, as well as signature dance moves such as the 'lick it and stick it'. He was the one who also chose Dallas' song, Calling Dr Love by Kiss, which he thought captured the right "provocative, lurid, lecherous" mood.

Because he was nervous about the dance, he rehearsed as much as possible, "every moment I could get, in private, in the hotel after work, at midnight, Sunday morning -- trying be comfortable with it".

Even with such preparation, it was still nerve-wracking to shoot the scene. "You are trying to be comfortable hanging around having a normal conversation while you're in a thong, which is a very tough thing to do... Your stomach's cramped up, you're so self-conscious but you're trying to get comfortable. And then it's time to go out and do it. Well, my adrenaline got going so high. I was thinking, 'Don't underdo it, don't hold back.' It was wild, it was scary as hell but there was something sinister and fun about it."

Career highs

The film, which also stars Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer, was an unexpectedly large box-office hit (scoring $113. …

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