'Ready, Aim ... Dragon Fire !'
Matthew McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas, the youngest son of "Big Jim", who ran an oil pipe-supply business, and Kay, whom Matthew sometimes refers to as K-Mac. The family moved to Longview, Texas, but after high school, Matthew was longing for a change of scenery, so he took off for The Land Down Under. After a year of washing dishes, and shovelling chicken manure, he decided to come back to the States and register at the University of Texas in Austin.
Soon Matthew met a man named Don Phillips who introduced him to producer/writer Richard Linklater. That meeting led him to his first movie role in 'Dazed and Confused' (1993) as an overaged high school wannabe named Wooderson. After filming, he returned to UT to graduate. His next movie role was Vilmer in 'The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1993). Upon graduating with a degree in Film, Matthew moved to Los Angeles where signing with the William Morris Agency helped him get parts in 'Angels in the Outfield' (1994), 'Scorpion Spring' (1995), and 'Boys on The Side' (1995).
In 1996, the public finally took notice of Matthew in his breakthrough performance as small town lawyer Jake Brigance in the movie 'A Time To Kill.' Writer John Grisham agreed to cast Matthew in 'A Time to Kill' after seeing him in director Joel Shumaker's film 'Lone Star' (1996). It was his role in 'A Time To Kill' that suddenly plunged Matthew into the spotlight because next Matthew had a supporting actor role in 'Contact' (1997), then came 'Amistad' (1997), 'The Newton Boys' (1998), 'EdTV,' (1999), 'U-571' (2000), 'The Wedding Planner' (2001), the highly impressive 'Frailty' (2002) and now, of course, 'Reign of Fire.'
How did you decide on the look for your character, Van Zan, in "Reign of Fire" ? "The idea came to me in a dream. Every other character I played in a movie had some sort of a biography to look at. But playing a dragonslayer in 2025 meant that there was no research I could do. I woke with a picture in my mind of a guy with a bald head who looked like a bullet. Then I grew the beard and went to my ranch to get in shape. I was running four miles a day and started boxing, which I maintained in Dublin at a gym. I also wrestled with cows at the ranch. We have about 70 cows and I'd throw my shoulder into them. They don't bite too much.
Did all your tattoos in the movie make you think about getting a real one?
I worked on the tattoos with a guy in a Dublin tattoo parlour. They are actually two dragons that wrap round my shoulder and come down to my navel. They took two hours to do every morning. I do want one now and I have an idea of what it'll be, but I'm keeping it a secret."
The fight scene between you and Christian Bale looked very realistic. Was there much damage done ? "I had some bumps and bruises. The head butt on Christian was real. It was accidental and happened in the heat of the moment and I put a nice egg on Christian's forehead. Good on him, though, for staying in there and finishing the scene. I was saying "Cut" because I was worried. Our knuckles and knees were bloodied."
What's your career philosophy ? "Be the lean horse for the long ride. I figure I am in the third round of a 15 round fight."
It's been said that you have plans to make a children's movie. What can you tell us about that ? "I'm keeping it pretty well under wraps. But I can tell you that it's a fairy tale about a little boy who is a fisherman. It's about his dreams. I'm going to be writer/producer/director on that but right now I've got to get the thing written.'
To read our DVD Review of 'Reign Of Fire' just click here and be whisked away !
Interviewed by Thorne Cawlec for Exclusive Magazine
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