Matthew McConaughey Says He Almost Quit Acting During Hiatus: It Was ‘Scary’ to Leave Hollywood for Two Years

Matthew McConaughey almost quit acting all together before the “McConaissance.”

The actor revealed to Interview magazine while in conversation with Glen Powell that his unique career choices to evade typecasting led to a “scary” two-year break from Hollywood itself. During that time, McConaughey questioned if he should take on a different career, ranging from being a high school teacher to wildlife guide.

More from IndieWire

“I’ve usually zigged when I felt like Hollywood wanted me to zag,” McConaughey said. “When I had my rom-com years, there was only so much bandwidth I could give to those, and those were some solid hits for me. But I wanted to try some other stuff. Of course I wasn’t getting it, so I had to leave Hollywood for two years.”

The Oscar winner continued, “Dude, it was scary. I had long talks with my wife about needing to find a new vocation. ‘I think I’m going to teach high school classes. I think I’m going to study to be a conductor. I think I’m going to go be a wildlife guide.’ I honestly thought, ‘I stepped out of Hollywood. I got out of my lane.’ The lane Hollywood said I should stay in, and Hollywood’s like, ‘Well, fuck you, dude. You should have stayed in your lane. Later.’ It was scary. The days are long — the sense of insignificance. But I made up my mind that that’s what I needed to do, so I wasn’t going to pull the parachute and quit the mission I was on. But it was scary, because I didn’t know if I was ever going to get out of the desert.”

McConaughey returned to his home state of Texas to regroup and returned to take on more serious roles in the 2010s, such as “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Mud,” “True Detective,” and “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Yet McConaughey knew how difficult it was to shake off typecasting at the time, especially when box office success proved to be the only ticket to more roles.

“I don’t know about you,” McConaughey said to Powell, “but for me, going back to ‘A Time to Kill,’ after I first had a big success in a major studio picture and became famous, I remembered that the Thursday before that movie opened, there’s 100 scripts out there that I would’ve done, and 99 of them I could not book. Over that one weekend, 99 noes became 99 yeses. I was like, ‘What? Three days ago, I’d have done any of these! And now you’re asking me which one I want to do?’ It was a hell of a shocking thing. I chucked on a backpack and went to Peru for three weeks just so I could hear myself think.”

He added, “Have you had to go, ‘I would’ve done any of these roles, but now I’ve got to be discerning?’ I’ve had similar runs where I’ve said no to things, where I’m like, ‘Am I being too safe, or am I ferociously chasing what I want?’ Because sometimes you can get paralyzed in the no’s. I’ve had plenty of times in my career where I’m like, ‘I don’t know what I want to do, I just know I don’t want to do that.'”

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.