Matthew McConaughey is best known for his syrupy, larger-than-life turn of phrasing – “Alright, alright, alright” becomes a character’s mantra when he says it. But in his new film Killer Joe, McConaughey restrained his natural charms to play a role that he tells The Hollywood Reporter was “a real exercise in introversion.”
"Joe is like a black panther,” McConaughey tells THR. “Every movement is deliberate, minimal. Never really exposing light, not out to really define himself, not out to help you understand who he is, not out to ‘let’s keep this conversation rolling.' Not out to make friends.”
Despite the character’s willingness to keep many of his motives obscure, McConaughey says the film reveals where his real interests lie. “He’s very clear about order, structure, and at the bottom of that, which happens in his relationship with Dottie (Juno Temple), is that this guy wants a family,” he says. “So everything needed to be underneath the surface.
“For like, say Magic Mike, everything with Dallas was big and out and promoting – he was the master of ceremonies,” he observes. “Joe’s not playing any of his cards. He’s very clear about the rules, but he’s not showing any other colors of himself.”
Killer Joe is directed by William Friedkin, who is the filmmaker responsible for such classics as The French Connection and The Exorcist. McConaughey says he and Friedkin had a strong creative partnership from the very beginning of the production.
“I had some minor opinions – just sort of insinuations on what I thought about the character in the film, and then I met with him and he sort of encompassed it all in an hour,” he remembers. “He was so secure with that, so precise and clear with that, I was like, OK, I’m in great hands here.”
McConaughey said he and Friedkin also communicated easily on the set.
"There were certain times it became a shorthand and we would say very little to each other,” he explains. “If I had an idea, if he liked it, we’d talk about it and try it, but we were very much already in sync.”
Killer Joe opens in limited release Friday.