Since his first turn on screen in a 1992 episode of "Unsolved Mysteries," Matthew McConaughey has proven his talent goes beyond his acting ability. Never afraid to push himself physically, Matthew has repeatedly transformed his appearance in order to bring his characters into full focus. In the biographical drama "White Boy Rick," which hits theaters on Sept. 14, 2018, Matthew once again reinvents himself as Richard Wershe Sr. — a one-time informant for the FBI and a convicted drug trafficker. In honor of Matthew's newest role, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at this Texas native's biggest onscreen transformations. Keep reading to see just how far he's gone to embody his characters…
Ron Woodroof in "Dallas Buyers Club"
Of all the transformations Matthew McConaughey made in the name of his art, none top the jaw-dropping physical change he endured for his role as Ron Woodroof in "Dallas Buyers Club." The film, about a man who learns he has AIDS and finds a way to skirt the medical system to get access to life-extending drugs for himself and others, required Matthew to drop a drastic amount of weight. In total, he reportedly shed 38 pounds — and couldn't wait to dine on a juicy half-pound cheeseburger once filming wrapped. The dedication worked, as the star earned his first Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for the performance.
Dallas in "Magic Mike"
One of our favorite Matthew McConaughey physical transformations came courtesy of the 2012 dramatic comedy "Magic Mike." In the film, he stars as strip-club owner Dallas, a legendary male dancer with a physique that seemed to be carved by the gods themselves. Matthew's abs clearly deserved a nomination for their dutiful performance throughout the film, but alas, there's no "most ripped" category.
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Denton Van Zan in "Reign of Fire"
In the 2002 fantasy adventure "Reign of Fire," Matthew McConaughey plays Denton Van Zan, the leader of a group of Americans sworn to defeat killer dragons that have wreaked havoc on the world. For the role, he beefed up his bod (which was decorated with faux tattoos) and shaved his golden locks all to look like a hardened warrior intent on saving humanity.
Mark Hanna in "The Wolf of Wall Street"
While filming "Dallas Buyers Club," Matthew McConaughey also had a smaller role in the Academy Award-nominated film "The Wolf of Wall Street" as Mark Hanna, a sleazeball stockbroker who introduces main character Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) to cocaine and corruption. For the role, Matthew had to work with his unnaturally thin frame (thanks to his transformation for "Dallas"), but didn't it deter him. In fact, it was easy to believe Mark Hanna would be bone-skinny, thanks to his penchant for drugs.
Kenny Wells in "Gold"
When one of the hottest men in Hollywood reincarnates himself as a pudgy, balding middle-aged man (and doesn't bat an eye), you know he's talented. In the 2017 dramatic thriller "Gold," Matthew McConaughey did just that (and we all shed a few tears) to play Kenny Wells, a prospector who heads to Indonesia to exploit the country's gold resources. Not surprisingly, Matthew reportedly gained 47 pounds for the role, proving he's committed to his characters, not his waistline.
Jack Lengyel in "We Are Marshall"
Okay, Matthew McConaughey doesn't look that different as football coach Jack Lengyel in "We Are Marshall," but he definitely seemed like a different person in the film. In the biographical sports drama, Matthew beefed up and grew some sexy sideburns to portray a 1970s college football coach tasked with the near-impossible mission of rebuilding a team and fans' faith after a deadly airplane crash claimed the lives of former team members.
Newton Knight in "Free State of Jones"
In the 2016 biographical drama "Free State of Jones," Matthew McConaughey transformed from a hunky Texan to a tooth decay-suffering former Confederate soldier from Mississippi named Newton Jones. Sporting a full beard and darker hair (and some really detailed faux-rotten teeth), Matthew captivated the screen with his uncompromising talent in a story about a man whose conscious leads him to rebel against the Confederate Army in a fight for freedom and liberty for all.
Abe in "Boys on the Side"
Did you even know Matthew McConaughey had a part in the 1995 dramatic comedy "Boys on the Side" starring Drew Barrymore and Whoopi Goldberg? We can't forget how clean cut and cute Matthew was in the film as Abe, a good-guy cop with a thing for Drew's character, Holly.
The Man in Black in "The Dark Tower"
In the 2017 fantasy drama "The Dark Tower," based on the novel from horror mastermind Stephen King, Matthew McConaughey plays The Man in Black (aka Walter) — the evil nemesis of good guy Roland (played by Idris Elba). For the role, Matthew got a heaping dose of black hair dye and sported an all-black wardrobe, capturing that certain demon-in-human-form look for the screen.
Lt. Andrew Tyler in "U-571"
In the 2000 war drama "U-571," Matthew McConaughey stars as Lt. Andrew Tyler, commander of the American crew tasked with retrieving a coding device aboard an enemy German submarine during World War II. For the film, Matthew went full military by pumping iron to give him a more muscular physique, all accentuated by his high and tight hairstyle. Add in the uniform and Matthew looks just like a newly assigned Navy commander.
Roger Sherman Baldwin in "Amistad"
Perhaps one of Matthew McConaughey's first noticeable physical transformations came in the 1997 historical drama "Amistad," in which he played Roger Sherman Baldwin, a lawyer determined to defend a group of Africans kidnapped from their homeland to be sold into slavery in America. For the role, he adopted a mid-19th century style by growing his beard and letting his curls go full bloom. The old-timey spectacles cemented the look and gave Matt a certain courtroom credibility circa 1839.
Steve Addington in "Surfer Dude"
Maybe Matthew McConaughey doesn't look that different in the 2008 comedy "Surfer Dude," but we just really wanted to give his immaculate, broad-shouldered, ab-sculpted physique a professional (and very personal) moment of silence. Amen.
Killer Joe Cooper in "Killer Joe"
Matthew McConaughey might not have transformed much physically for the 2011 crime thriller "Killer Joe," but he definitely transformed his personality for the creepy, villainous role. In the film, he plays the title character, a man hired to kill a horrible woman — by her own son — who worms his way into their family and poses an even more terrible threat to them all. While Matthew's dabbled in playing bad guys, his role as Joe Cooper in the film proved he's got a knack for the dark and twisty.
Rust Cohle in "True Detective"
In 2014, Matthew McConaughey took a turn on TV when he starred on Season 1 of the HBO series "True Detective" as Rust Cohle. For the show, he had to play two versions of the character — first as a modern-day detective reflecting back on an earlier case (seen here), and second as the same detective 19 years earlier during a murder investigation. Along with adjusting his physical appearance (including longer hair and a droopy 'stache), Matthew had to transform his personality for each iteration of the character, going from headstrong and determined to a man who's seen and done things he doesn't want to remember.
Danny Buck in "Bernie"
In the 2011 biographical crime comedy "Bernie," Matthew McConaughey stars as Danny Buck, a district attorney who argues a murder case against a mortician who's accused of killing the town's most despised elderly socialite. Donning a 1990s style suit and hairstyle, Matt transformed from Hollywood hottie to passionate prosecutor determined to seek justice.
Vilmer in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation"
In the 1994 horror comedy "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation," Matthew McConaughey transformed into a vicious serial killer named Vilmer. As the movie's main bad guy, he didn't just rely on sweat-stained coveralls and a greasy hairdo to make his look complete. He also flexed his facial muscles to give Vilmer the wide-eyed (and creepy) wonder of a mentally disturbed man excited by the prospect of murder.
Wooderson in "Dazed and Confused"
Last but not least is Matthew McConaughey's very first big-screen role — Wooderson in the 1993 comedy "Dazed and Confused." For the part, he rocked a gleaming blonde shaggy hairstyle and very 1970s mustache while keeping his eyes steady mid-blink to give him a total stoner style. Plus, Wooderson was the first to say one of Matt's now iconic lines: "Alright, alright, alright."