Is a possible governor run part of the actor's effort to be his own hero?
In 2014, Matthew McConaughey was at his peak — or so we thought.
The so-called "McConaissance" was in full swing. With starring roles in indie-darling Mud, oscar-bait Dallas Buyers'Club, Nolan's Interstellar, and the acclaimed first season of HBO's True Detective, he had successfully reformed his brand.
He was no longer just a handsome, shirtless goofball to be plugged into one romantic comedy after another. Suddenly he was one of the most respected actors working in Hollywood, capable of bringing an intense energy and originality to every role he touched.
And what better way to mark that dramatic turn than with the highest honor the American film industry can offer an actor: a producing credit — wait, no, an Academy Award. In 2014, Mconaughey won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as AIDS patient and activist Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club and did exactly what any great actor should do as he's reaching the pinnacle of his career — predicted that he was about to go even higher.
Matthew McConaughey winning Best Actor www.youtube.com
In his infamous acceptance speech McConaughey laid out his homepsun philosophy of perpetually "chasing" the achievements of a vision of his future self. Recounting a spurious anecdote from his teenage years, he said, "This person comes up and says, 'Who's your hero?' I said, 'I thought about it. You know who it is? It's me in 10 years.'"
According to McConaughey, his hero has remained 10 years in the future ever since, with the next level of attainment always around the corner. From a teenager with his whole life ahead of him, expressing that kind of bold ambition could actually be kind of impressive.
But from a man in his mid-40s being honored with what is supposedly the height of achievement within his profession, doesn't it smack a little of conceit? Doesn't it kind of sound like he's saying, "If you think I'm great now, just wait until you see what I'm gonna do next?"
Maybe that's being harsh. You could even look at it as humility — an acknowledgment that he still has a lot of room for personal growth and development.
Maybe in that sense Matthew McConaughey has continued his steady progress and can look back with pride at how much he's done — while still chasing his next self. But in terms of professional accomplishments, it's been seven years since that oscar speech. What has he done to level up?
The Beach Bum? White Boy Rick? The Dark Tower?
His performances continue to impress critics, but they aren't quite enough to draw in audiences for a series of broadly forgettable films. The most cultural relevance he's managed since 2014 was in that bizarre Lincoln ad that Jim Carrey parodied on Saturday Night Live. Maybe that's why, at 51, he's suddenly signalling his political aspirations — with eye toward the Texas governor's mansion.
Lincoln Ads - Saturday Night Live www.youtube.com
With just three years left to make good on his ten-year-hero status, the prospect of one-upping his McConaissance Oscar win in the acting field seems to be dwindling. A change of venues might be necessary if he wants to prove that he hasn't peaked, and politics could be the right way for him to go.
His fondness for speaking in vague aphorisms and imprecise wisdom is ideal for the political sphere, where it's important to be able to talk a lot without saying much that anyone can pin down to a specific proposal. And his recent memoir, Greenlights — which purports to be full of "raucous stories and outlaw wisdom" — is exaclty the sort of book a prospective politician might use to ingratiate himself to voters.
When he's spoken on politics — including the conversation with conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt, where a gubernatorial run was first floated — he's tended to be critical of extremism on both sides of the aisle, advocating for an "aggressively centric" shift. So we can probably assume he'd be running as an Independent or a third-party candidate.
While that kind of outsider run has had limited success at the Federal level (see: Kanye West), six states have elected seven independent or third-party governors — including actor and pro-wrestler Jesse Ventura in Minnesota — since the 1990s. And an increasingly purple state like Texas could be an ideal context for someone who expresses criticism of "condescending" liberal attitudes, but without Republican Governor Greg Abbott's opposition to cannabis and gay-marriage, or the baggage from the disastrous February ice storm.
Obviously a lot of progressives would prefer someone like Julián Castro or Beto O'Rourke for the job. But if the people of Texas won't vote for a Democrat, maybe someone like McConaughey could be a good compromise.
With about a year-and-a-half before the 2022 election in Texas, McConaughey still has some time to prove to his home state that he's up to the task, and he seems to be putting in the work. On Wednesday's episode of The Balanced Voice podcast out of Houston, he spoke about his Just Keep Livin Foundation for youth outreach and assured host Rania Mankarias that a run for governor is "a true consideration."
The Balanced Voice Episode 23 | Matthew McConaughey - Greenlights www.youtube.com
Expressing an interest in finding a "leadership role," he added, "I do think I have some things to teach and share, and what is my role? What's my category in my next chapter of life that I'm going into?" Sounds a bit like a man with a deadline approaching — trying to live up to his ten-year hero prediction.
Either that, or he genuinely lives by his stated philosophy — going with the flow but always with an eye toward the next pursuit — the next challenge. And while the "alright, alright, alright" guy might seem like a strange fit for the stuffy world of politics, so was an action hero with a thick Austrian accent. If Arnold Schwarzenegger can level up to a governor's mansion, why not Matthew McConaughey?