Matthew McConaughey Once Shared He Actually Lost Money During His McConaissance

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Matthew McConaughey’s McConaissance did wonders for his career, even helping him win his first Best Actor Oscar. But it turns out that era had the exact opposite effect on his bank account.

Matthew McConaughey made the least amount of money in his favorite year doing movies

Matthew McConaughey at the premiere of he premiere of Focus Features' 'Kubo And The Two Strings' while posing in a suit.
Matthew McConaughey | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

The McConaissance came about after McConaughey realized how dissatisfied he was with his career choices over the years. The actor was making a ton of money doing lighthearted rom-com movies like The Wedding Planner and Fool’s Gold. Although some of these movies generated respectable box-office returns, they left the actor feeling unfulfilled. This inspired McConaughey to make a frightening decision.

“I hunkered down with my wife and my agent and said, ‘I’m going to make a strong move. I’m going to go in the shadows for a while,’” McConaughey once told the Los Angeles Times. “And I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t know how long it was going to take, and that was kind of scary because, what if there isn’t anything on the other side, you know?”

After this long hiatus from the film industry, McConaughey would return to the big screen in much more serious projects. Lincoln Lawyer and Killer Joe marked a new direction for the actor that was a significant departure from his romcom days.

This career resurgence took McConaughey to a career high where he won an Oscar for Dallas Buyer’s Club. But despite the accolades and acclaim his films were enjoying, he admitted he tried to stay away from his bank account during that period.

“It’s funny. My favorite year of work in my life is the first time in my career I’ve ever lost money,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Yeah, it’s great!’ And you know what? I was in the red. How’s that work?”

The McConaissance didn’t come without its share of sacrifices. In his book Greenlight (via Yahoo), McConaughey reflected on the easy money he passed on for the sake of artistic integrity.

“Well, I got a $5 million offer for two months’ work on one,” he wrote. “I read it. I passed. Then they offered $8 million. Nope. Then they offered $10 million. No, thank you. Then $12.5 million. Not this time, but…thanks. Then $14.5 million.”

Matthew McConaughey sneakily coined the term ‘McConaissance’

The name McConaissance was a label that came from McConaughey himself. Initially, however, the actor admitted he tried to keep the true source of the title a secret. The Magic Mike star let others believe that journalists were responsible for originating the term. But in an interview on Chelsea Handler’s Dear Chelsea podcast (via Business Insider), McConaughey came clean.

“‘Yeah, I was talking to this guy a minute ago and he actually called it the McConaissance,’” McConaughey remembered telling a reporter. “I threw it out there and he goes, ‘The McConaissance, I love that! You like that?’ And I go ‘Yeah, sounds good, man.’ So I snuck it in there and the sonofabitch, it stuck. So I made that up.”

The actor felt giving a name to this new phase of his career was an appropriate gesture, and likened it to creating a song title. It also served its purpose on spreading the word about McConaughey’s historic career comeback.

“Oh jeez, it was some self-marketing,” McConaughey said.

Matthew McConaughey once shared he wasn’t sure he was being legally paid for this movie

McConaughey may be capable of commanding millions of dollars for a film role now, but this wasn’t always the case. The actor once reflected on his time in the film Daze and Confused, which was his onscreen debut. After discovered what he was being paid, he couldn’t help question the legality of his salary.

“I was scheduled to work for three days. [Director] Richard Linklater kept inviting me back for what turned into three weeks’ work. And the cast just freely let me integrate my character [David Wooderson] into each scene. I was getting paid a SAG day rate, which was 300-and-something dollars, and I remember having so much fun on the set that I questioned if that kind of pay was even legal,” McConaughey said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

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