Matthew McConaughey is the perfect case study for an actor who has evolved over his career. He burst onto the scene with a personality defining role that would've made him iconic if he never made another film. Then he became one of the biggest movie stars and sex symbols in the world before falling off a cliff and reinventing himself as a serious, introspective actor who could seemingly handle anything. Here's how the Texas-born charmer has not just evolved, but just kept livin'.
"Dazed and Confused" (1993)
Matthew McConaughey's first role was as Wooderson in Richard Linklater's cult hit "Dazed and Confused," and there are few performances that have announced a career and an actor's persona so well. Among other memorable lines, McConaughey utters for the first time "Alright, alright, alright," and the catch phrase has followed him ever since.
"A Time to Kill" (1996)
In the film adaptation of John Grisham's novel, McConaughey in one of his first leading roles plays a lawyer fighting for justice in the midst of a racist town.
McConaughey played both romantic and brainy as the scientist love interest to Jodie Foster in Robert Zemeckis' sci-fi.
20th Century Fox
"The Newton Boys" (1998)
McConaughey reunited with Linklater for this crime movie that paired him with Ethan Hawke, Skeet Ulrich and Vincent D'Onofrio.
"The Wedding Planner" (2001)
McConaughey kicked off his stint as a bankable romantic comedy actor with "The Wedding Planner" opposite Jennifer Lopez.
"How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" (2003)
McConaughey and Kate Hudson play characters with opposite agendas in the 2003 romantic comedy that became a massive box office hit in 2003.
People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive (2005)
McConaughey might've hit the peak of his fame as a Hollywood A-lister in 2005 when he was named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. That same year, he starred in the adventure flop "Sahara," which grossed only $119 million worldwide on a $130 million budget.
"Failure to Launch" (2006)
Sarah Jessica Parker plays a love expert determined to get McConaughey out of his parent's house and into the real world in yet another successful rom-com.
"We Are Marshall" (2006)
In a more serious role, McConaughey appears as the head football coach of Marshall University, attempting to rebuild the their program after a crippling plane crash that kills the majority of the team and coaching staff.
"Fool's Gold" (2008)
Hudson and McConaughey reunited as a recently divorced couple on an adventure to find lost treasure. But no matter how many times McConaughey was seen with his shirt off, he netted some of the worst reviews of his career, with the movie getting just an 11 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Tropic Thunder" (2008)
An almost unrecognizable Tom Cruise had the real scene-stealing moments in "Tropic Thunder," but McConaughey (and Ben Stiller) showed a new side to himself.
"Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" (2009)
In this weird reimagining of "A Christmas Carol," McConaughey plays a womanizer who reacquaints with his childhood crush (Jennifer Garner) after being haunted by the ghosts of his past girlfriends. Shortly after this bomb, McConaughey would take a two-year hiatus and return a different actor.
"The Lincoln Lawyer" (2011)
Moving away from comedy, McConaughey returns as a criminal defense lawyer in the film adaptation of Michael Connelly's novel of the same name. Believe it or not, this movie would have nothing to do with McConaughey's eventual long streak doing commercials for Lincoln cars.
McConaughey reunited with Linklater once again in "Bernie," but he gives a challenging, unlikable role as a Texas prosecutor with an axe to grind against Jack Black's often charming title character.
"Killer Joe" (2011)
During this time, people started uttering the word "McConaissance," as he went on a tear of daring performances in indies. And nothing was more left field than his ruthless, frenzied turn in William Friedkin's bloody "Killer Joe."
"Magic Mike" (2012)
In a year that also included the polarizing "The Paperboy" and the critical darling "Mud," Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike" was peak McConainssance, starring McConaughey as a veteran strip club owner. It didn't hurt that he went shirtless again. "The law says you cannot touch, but I see a lotta lawbreakers here tonight."
"Dallas Buyers Club" (2013)
Losing a shocking amount of weight for the film, McConaughey plays a homophobic man diagnosed with HIV, who turns to smuggling anti-viral meds into the U.S. His impressive turn won him an Oscar.
"True Detective" (2014)
McConaughey picked a good time to turn to TV, pairing with Woody Harrelson for the gritty HBO drama "True Detective." McConaughey played Rust Cohle across multiple time periods, allowing him to flex his range as a more action-oriented star and a character obsessed with the mystical and philosophical.
After winning his Oscar, McConaughey got the chance to turn back to blockbusters, starring in Christopher Nolan's spiritual sci-fi epic "Interstellar."
The Weinstein Company
After losing 38 pounds for "Dallas Buyers Club," McConaughey put on 47 pounds to play a sleazy businessman and explorer in "Gold."
McConaughey re-teamed with his "Interstellar" co-star Anne Hathaway for Steven Knight's twisty drama "Serenity."
"The Beach Bum" (2019)
McConaughey's next role might be his oddest yet, starring as a slacker in "The Beach Bum," Harmony Korine's follow-up to "Spring Breakers."