It's been a while since Matthew McConaughey hasn't sleepwalked his way through a Kate Hudson movie with his shirt off, but it seems as though a promising opportunity has finally arrived for the charming Texan actor, as he and Emile Hirsch are reportedly set to star in the black comedy "Killer Joe," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
William Friedkin will direct from a script by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts ("August: Osage County"), who wrote the 1993 play of the same name.
McConaughey will play "Killer Joe" Cooper, a cop who moonlights as a contract killer. The story follows a murderous brother (Hirsch) and sister who hire him to kill their mother for the insurance money.
When I first saw McConaughey in "A Time to Kill," he seemed like such a breath of fresh air at the time. I remember feeling as if I was watching the birth of a legit movie star right in front of my 12-year-old eyes. But ever since the ahead-of-its-time "EdTV," McConaughey's career choices have left me, uh, dazed and confused, with the exception of his decision to fill in for Owen Wilson as Ben Stiller's agent in "Tropic Thunder."
McConaughey has spent a full decade alternating between mediocre fare (some of which I enjoyed) such as "U-571," "Frailty," "Sahara," "We Are Marshall" and "Two For the Money," and trite romantic comedies including "The Wedding Planner," "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Failure to Launch," "Fool's Gold" and "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past." His career low point came with last year's embarrassing vanity project "Surfer, Dude," which wiped out and basically went straight-to-DVD.
Having said all of that, I still think McConaughey has something left in the tank. Lionsgate's adaptation of Michael Connelly's novel "The Lincoln Lawyer" has some breakout potential, and with a little bit of luck, it could help him regain the swagger that would serve him well in "The Grackle," a long-gestating comedy that would star McConaughey as a bar room brawler.
The actor was also reportedly circling the border patrol thriller "Southbound," from the talented duo of director Jonathan Jakubowicz ("Secuestro Express") and writer Peter Craig ("The Town"), as well as Phil Joanou's crime drama "Hammer Down," about a former NASCAR driver who becomes the getaway driver on a major heist. Don't expect the latter project to happen now that Ryan Gosling's "Drive" is about to go before cameras … unless that one proves to be a huge hit.
While working with Al Pacino on "Two For the Money" did little to raise McConaughey's acting game, I'm intrigued by his pairing with the immensely talented Hirsch, and hoping that Friedkin will be able to wrangle a strong performance out of him.
Oscar winner Nicolas Chartier ("The Hurt Locker") will produce "Killer Joe" through his company Voltage Pictures, along with Scott Einbinder of ANA Media. Voltage is financing the project and handling foreign sales at Toronto.
Production is set to begin Nov. 8 in and around New Orleans.
Friedkin previously directed the big-screen adaptation of Letts' stage play "Bug," and coincidentally, the star of that psychological thriller, Michael Shannon, appeared in a 1998 New York production of "Killer Joe."
Hirsch recently wrapped Summit's alien invasion movie "The Darkest Hour." He is represented by WME, while McConaughey is represented by CAA.