Adventures in Barrywood: 5 reasons that Matthew McConaughey deserved the Oscar

Stephanie Rietz, Reporter

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By Barry Koltnow

The Orange County Register


It is unprofessional for me to root for a particular actor to win an Oscar, but I couldn’t help myself.

I’m glad that Matthew McConaughey won a best actor Oscar for “Dallas Buyers Club,” and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I should make it clear that I am not related to the actor, and he does not count me as a close friend. I own no financial interest in his movie, and I have not been promised a financial reward for secretly supporting the actor at his moment of triumph.

Still, I can think of five good reasons why I gave myself a private high-five when his name was announced during the Oscars telecast. Those same five good reasons could not be applied to Christian Bale, Bruce Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio or Chiwetel Ejiofor.

In the future, I will make a concerted effort to avoid being emotionally invested in the success or failure of any actor in Hollywood because it is unseemly for someone in my position. It would be like a political reporter cheering for a certain candidate, and we know that no political reporter would do such a thing.

As an entertainment columnist, I don’t have the luxury of complete objectivity. So here are my five good reasons for rooting for Matthew McConaughey:

1. It was a very good performance — If you don’t believe me, ask the 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who gave him the Oscar. I don’t have a vote. The academy voters didn’t even need four other reasons to award him the gold statuette. They loved his real-life portrayal of a homophobic Texan who began smuggling experimental drugs after contracting the AIDS virus. They loved the dedication it took to lose 47 pounds for the role, and they applauded his decision to leave behind a lucrative career as a romantic lead to pursue more serious roles in “Mud,” “Killer Joe” and “The Paperboy.” They like that he took a project (“Dallas Buyers Club”) that nobody in Hollywood wanted to make, and shepherded it through the filmmaking process for five years. And they particularly liked that he muffled his bongo-playing, pot-smoking, go-with-the-flow image and replaced it with the image of a serious actor who doesn’t care about awards. Of course, as soon as you say you don’t care about awards, the awards start coming.

2. He introduced me to his wife — This simply is not done in Hollywood. Actors and entertainment reporters may seem chummy at times, but make no mistake. There is a clear divide between writers and the beautiful people, and family is off-limits. Yet, McConaughey made a point of going into another room to retrieve his beautiful wife, Camilla, to meet me. It wasn’t an empty gesture; his wife and young son stayed with us for the rest of the interview.

3. We drank tequila shooters during one of our interview sessions — You might not know this about the actor, but he frequently travels around the country in a vintage Airstream trailer, and he invited me inside for a cocktail. The trailer was parked outside a fancy Beverly Hills hotel (only a movie star could get away with that), and after a half hour or so, McConaughey suggested that we go inside the hotel bar for some premium tequila. I am spoiled. Now I expect tequila during all my interviews.

4. He walked me to my car — In one of our interviews, we met at his beachfront office near L.A. At the end of the hour, I started to leave but he followed me out the door. Like a perfect host, he walked me to my car, which was parked a block away. This has never happened before. Movie stars don’t walk reporters to their cars. Once we got to my car, we made a discovery, which leads to the next reason I am glad he won the Oscar.

5. He fought city hall for me — What we discovered when we got to my car was a parking ticket (a whopping $80 for the greedy beach city). What we also discovered was that the parking meter still had 13 minutes left on it. I was outraged. He was outraged, although he has a much more mellow way of expressing outrage. But he was very upset that his guest had been unjustly penalized during his visit. He offered any help he could give to get me out of the ticket, and I took him up on his offer. As soon as I received a warning from the city to pay my fine, I wrote a long letter, explaining that I had a witness who could prove my innocence. And that witness was Matthew McConaughey. I’m not sure that would have worked in Nebraska, but it sure worked in Los Angeles. The matter was dropped.

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