Matthew McConaughey

  1. Brendan Fraser, The Mummy, 1989.      A surprise box-office winner, particularly as it starred Fraser instead of… Ben Affleck or Matt Damon (they’d just won their Goodwill Hunting script Oscar), Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell (his first studio offer), Leonardo DiCaprio (keen but tied to The Beach), the unknown Stephen Dunham (instead, he debuted as Henderson), Matthew McConaughey, Chris O’Donnell, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone and the star of the 2016 flop, Tom Cruise. Not as the titular Imhotep, of course,  but the heroic Indiana…er… Rick O’Connell.
  2. Gary Sinise, The Stand, TV, 1993. There are those who cling to the  legend that Big Mac was first going to be The  Man in Black  here – in his alternate identity of the walkin’ dude Randall Flagg – and reprise him in The Dark Tower, 2016.   No way. Director Mick Garris offered him the lead role of Texan hero Stu Redman, opposite Jamey Sheridan’s Man in Black in the 41st of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits. And so much better than The Dark Tower, which needed a series format, not a movie.  (In 2012, Harry Potter director David Yates gave up plans to film The Stand, because it deserved a fuller series – and became one in 2019.  (King Kameo: Teddy Weizak).
  3. Rob Lowe, Tommy Boy, 1994.    Arguing co-stars Chris Farley and David Spade nearly lost co-star Lowe – who was making The Standat the same time.  Director Peter Segal organised someinbetween scenes auditions with, among others, McConaughey. Lowe then solved his schedule hassles and stayed aboard.  The result is on Chicago critic Roger Ebert’s Most Hated list:“No one is funny… [or] interesting except for the enigmatic figure played by Rob Lowe, who seems to have wandered over from Hamlet.”
  4. Jon Gries, Get Shorty, 1995.     “I was probably the 250th person they saw,” said the son of of Will Penny and 100 Rifle director Tom Gries. “Getting it was kind of an anomaly. It’s very difficult being nobody and getting a part in a movie like that.” Opposite such heavyweights as Danny De Vito, Gene Hackman, John Travolta.
  5. Brendan Fraser, Mrs Winterbourne, 1996.     Bland replaced bland in the re-make of French hit, J’ai épousé une ombre, 1983,and US tele-film, She’s No Angel, 2001, from the Rear Window writer Cornell Woolrich’s novel. I Married A Dead Man.
  6. Kiefer Sutherland A Time To Kill, 1996.     Signed for Freddie Lee Cobb, McConaughey worked on convincing director Joel Schumacher that he should havethe lead: yet anothertypical John Grisham lawyer Jake Tyler Brigance.Grisham, didn’t want anyonein the role… because it was so obviously based on himself.
  7. Peter Berg, The Great White Hype, 1996.  Ironically, poor Matthew  suffered exactly that titular problem since being chosen that year for A Time To Kill.
  8. Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic1996.
  9. Bruce Willis, The Jackal, 1997.    Preferred making Contact with Jodie Foster. His credo, Just Keep Living, comes from his 1992 Dazed and Confused character and is his production company’s name, JKL Productions.
  10. Jason Patric, Speed 2:Cruise Control, 1997.      The original script was intended to be the third film in the Die Hard series.

  11. Jim Caviezel, The Thin Red Line, 1998.     After various readings in 1995 of auteur Terrence Malik’s first script for 17 years (with Kevin Costner, Johnny Depp, Martin Sheen Will Patton, etc) at producer Mike Medavoy’s house, the two film-makers saw other youngsters. Including Big Mac.The new generation had been alertedby Sean Penn -and all wanted one role only, eco-soldier Witt.
  12. Mark Wahlberg, Three Kings, 1998.      Bullying director David O Russell (George Clooney taught him a lesson) had seven  possibilities for hero Archie Gates. Just three for Troy Barlow – Damon, McConaughey and Wahlberg…  who, allegedly, did his electric shock torture scene for real. The famous fist-fight had been over Russell’s treatment of an extra, throwing him to the ground. And then foolishly taunting Clooney: “Hit me!” So, he did.
  13. Kevin Kline, Wild, Wild West, 1999.     Director Barry Sonenfeld was allowed to go for broke to attract Will Smith as West, James West. Had more trouble filling Artemus Gordon’s boots… also looking at Depp, George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey. Like almost everyone else concerned with the enterprise, the star and director hated the movie.

  14. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. 2002. 
    The first one…  Disney never really knew what to do with the suggested movie based on the Disneyland ride. A tele-film or a proper movie? Over the years ten actors were approached about being Captain Jack Sparrow: Jim Carrey, Robert De Niro (!), Cary Elwes, Michael Keaton, Steve Martin, Rik Mayall, Bill Murrray, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams…. and for a wee while, Matthew  McConaughey.  Why:? Because the suits thought he looked like Burt Lancaster. (Oh really?). And Burt was the last star to make a profitable skull-and-cross-bones voyage, The Crimson Pirate, as long ago as 1951.  As if the 2002 public knew Burt or would rush to buy tickets for a film, starring someone  who resembled him.  Oh, Hollywood!

  15. Gerard Butler, Phantom of the Opera, 2003.     Butler, McConaughey, Antonio Banderas, Michael Crawford (Broadway’s Phantom), Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta were on the titular list. Scotland won!
  16. Josh Lucas, Empire Falls, TV, 2005.    Matthew rejected the idea of playing the young version of Paul Newman’s role- which became, alas, his 78th and final screen appearance.
  17. Colin Farrell, Miami Vice, 2005.    After co-starring in Minority Report, Cruise apparently elbowed Farrell out of Michael Mann’s Collateral.  Mann got his own way this time, booking the busy Irishman (and opposite the Collateral co-star,Jamie Foxx) for the overly serious  (’twas written for Cruise) movie of the 1984-1990 TV series. Mac and Brad Pitt were also up  for Detective Sonny Crockett but the original, Don Johnson, had already nominated Farrell…who “can’t remember a frame of  it. A lot of it’s hazy… it really is, man.”  
  18. Edward Norton, The Incredible Hulk, 2007.  Welcome  to Hollywood, Louis Leterrier…  Marvel wanted Eric Bana to reprise his hulking from the first 2002 movie.  The French director preferred Mark Ruffalo. He considered were Matthew McConaughey, Dominic Purcell and Live Schreiber. But Marvel told him: “You should get Edward Norton because he’s more famous!” A genuine Hulk fan, Norton had refused the first movie in 2002. He hated the script – and would rewrite most of his one (as Edward Harrison), probably why he was replaced by Ruffalo for Disney’s first summit meeting of the Marvel superheroes, The Avengers, 2011. And six more chapters.  At least.
  19. Guy Pearce, Traitor, 2007.    Change of FBI agent Roy Clayton investigating an international conspiracy possibly led by… his producer Don Cheadle! 
  20. Travis Grant, Zombieland, 2009.     As the riot zombie, when the idea was to have several celebrity zombs – Mark Hamill, Joe Pesci, Patrick Swayze, Jean-Claude Van Damme, etc.

  21. Josh Brolin, Jonah Hex, 2009.     Mac and Emile Hirsch were seen for the DComics bounty hunter. They were probably more  keen than Brolin, who took his  time falling for the black humour. And a half-beard… He could only shave one side to accommodate a scarred-face prosthetic. Director  Jimmy Hayward was one of the Toy Story 1 and 2 animators  – and unlucky enough to open his directing debut on the same day as Toy Story 3.  Pixar sure put a hex on him.  Massive flop.
  22. Jamie Foxx, Horrible Bosses, 2010.    Mac was also in the satire frame as the hit-man hired by three abused workers -Jason Bateman, CharlieDay,Jason Sudeikis- to kill their abusive bosses (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell) in a male take on Nine To Five.
  23. Patrick Duffy, Dallas, TV, 2011.    Efforts were made since 2002 to reboot the iconic 1978-92 series (and tele-films) for the cinema. Result? This pilot for a 2012 series.“Impossible to do Dallas as a film,” Duffy toldme in 2011. “A ten hour plot in 120 minutes!I read those movie scripts and they were atrocious Then, I read this – oh my God, this is Dallas as I remember it. It was frightening howeasy it was to slide back into Bobby. It’s all about the sons…Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and I agreed we’d rather have somebody else do the heavy lifting.”
  24. Ty Burrell, Mr Peabody & Sherman, 2012.   McConaughey, Dan Aykroyd, Robert Downey Jr, Kelsey Grammer, Tony Hale, , Kevin Pollak, Freddie Prinz Jr, and Geoffrey Rush, were run up the DreamWorks flagpole for voicing Mr. Peabody. Who. Is. A. Dog. But, yes, the most amazing dog in history:  inventor, scientist, Noble laureate, gourmet chef, business tycoon, double Olympic gold medalist. With its own time machine. Plus an adopted human son! Burrell, the Modern Family TV star was saluted for a voice suiting “not just the intellect and the suave personality, but the underlying warmth as well.”  
  25. James Marsden, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, 2012.   Windows clashed and McConaughey had to pass on JFK in the film (with 41 credited producers!) based on Eugene Allen, a White House butler for eight presidents over 30 years, from Harry S Truman to Ronald Reagan. Marsden looked like a teenager.   By 2014, McConaughey was a surprise Best Actor Oscar-winner. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve it (or Dallas Buyers Club,2013) but that I never expected him to ever deserve it.
  26. Jada Pinkett Smith, Magic Mike XXL,  2014.    His Oscar for Dallas Buyers’ Club, 2013, meant McConaughey was too pricey for  the a second exposé of the the banana hammock business. So his Dallas became MC – Mrs Will Smith as Channing Tatum’s ex, hailed by the UK Sunday Time as a “the doyenne of bachanalian strip club rammed with unfeasably hench, greased-up lady-killers.” When she’d been thinking : “Arrgh! I can’t  compete with Matthew.”  (Except money wise).

  27. Woody Harrelson, True Detective, TV, 2014.    
    Having re-made his failing career by selecting independent films like  Mud, The Paperboy, Magic  Mike  and Dallas Buyers Club (hello, Oscar!), McConaughey was surprised to receive a TV offer And such a corker.  “I read those first two episodes… the quality was so apparent, I felt this was going to be hard to screw up.  I understood why they wanted me for the Marty role. From my past work, someone would think that I’d be more right for that. I said: The guy on the page who I cannot wait to hear what’s going to come out of his mouth, and who I agreed with in so many ways… understood his mind and his character, was Rustin Cohle.  I’ve been told I was the one who said, ‘You got to go to Woody for {Marty].’ I don’t know if that came out of my mouth first, but I know that if it didn’t, I agreed when I heard it and knew he was a great choice right away.”
  28. Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange, 2015.  Discussed, planned, written, re-spun since 1986, always dropped despite scripts from Alex Cox, Wes Craven, Bob Gale, etc, until chosen as the  portal into the supernatural side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Mads Mikkelsen  was first choice. But that was in in 2013…  Among those laterflown  up the flagpole were  TV doctor Patrick Dempsey, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Tom Hardy, Ethan Hawke, Jack Huston, Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Vincent Price (in 1986!), Keanu Reeves (listed but never approached – how wise!), Justin Theroux. Oh and two Jokers: 2015’s Jared Leto and 2018’s Joachin Phoenix.  Finally, production wisely waited until after Cumberbatch’s Hamlet stagetriumph in London. If Iron Man is Mick Jagger, Strange is Jim Morrison…  and could be head of the MCU when Robert Downey pawned his ironmongery.

  29. Will Smith, Suicide Squad, 2015.     After seeing 14 possible Harley Quinns, director David Ayer  shuffled through 19 Deadshots. None hit the target. Not  Daniel Craig, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba,  Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jon Hamm.  Nor McConaughey, Oscar Isaac, Joel Kinnaman (he became Rick Flag), Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Alexander Skarsgård and Jason Statham. Another Warner/DC flop because Warner wasn’t Marvel and Smith was way too top-heavy for a team effort.
  30. James McAvoy, Split, 2015. 
    When Joaquin Phoenix could not reach a deal, auteur M Night Shyamalan met McAvoy by chance at a Comic-Con. The Scottish actor agreed to play the Billy Milligan (19552014), diagnosed with 24 multiple personalities (ten desirables,13 no), including two women and a girl of three.  Charged with raping three women in 1977, Milligan was acquitted when his defence argued that the crimes were committed, not by Milligan, but by one of his alternate personalities. Hitchcock created a masterpiece using the same subject matter to create Psycho, noted critic Dennis Schwarz,but Shyamalan is only a so-so director and just comes up with an unpleasant and pointless kidnapping thriller.”  David Fincher and Joel Schumacher were previously attached to another version, The Crowded Room, with such potential Milligans as Jim Carey, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio (producing his version), Matthew McConaughey, Sean Penn and  Brad Pitt for the producer called Leo.

  31. Kurt Russell, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, 2016.    Big Mac left for  The Dark Tower.  Also in the mix for Ego were Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, Stephen Lang, Viggo Mortensen, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman,  Christopher Plummer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Max Von Sydow, Christoph Waltz and Bruce Willis.
  32. Adam Driver, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, 2017.
  33. James Marsden, The Stand, TV, 2020.   Josh Boone, main writer-director of the fuller, nine-chapter  version of the 1993 four-parter,  had hoped for  Big Mac as Christian Bale as Stu Redman and the walkin’ dude Randall Flagg. He settled for Skarsgård (brother of the It star, Bill Skarsgård) and James Marsden – hot from the tele-Westworld.  McConaughey had been rumoured for Flagg, one of the aliases for his Man in Black in The Dark Tower, 2016.  However, the suits  felt that  would  confuse their audience… which was apparently considered to be  that dumb. Shooting of the drama about life after a pandemic had to be halted in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the 289th of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits.






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  33