It’s been quite a year for Matthew McConaughey. He won his first Best Actor Academy Award in March, starred in the hit HBO series True Detective and currently plays the lead in the Christopher Nolan-directed film, Interstellar. This sci-fi film features a team of space travelers who explore a newly discovered wormhole in the hopes of finding a habitable planet in another galaxy. Besides transcending the normal limits of space and time, the film is very much about hope and love, centering on a father’s relationship with his children. McConaughey is personally a father of three and talks with Risen about how fatherhood has changed his decision making, the opportunities within his career, and the importance of hope.
Interviewed for Risen Magazine in Los Angeles, California
Risen Magazine: Your character Cooper feels he has been called for such a time as this and has been given opportunities to step into what he is passionate about. In what ways in your own career how have you seen that reflected?
Matthew McConaughey: I have a career I love and I am getting to live out my dreams – they are precious to me, and the things I get to do are precious to me. They also take me around the globe to different places. Cooper didn’t have the opportunity to say, “I want to bring my family along.” Thankfully I do. But if that was taken away and it became – on a much less extreme level than this [Interstellar space travel] – where I had to go away from three months but the family couldn’t come, that would be very hard. And that is the nut of the question, and the common denominator of the movie that everyone can relate to, there are certain goodbyes; some of them are for shorter times, some are for longer times and none of them are guaranteed.
RM: Speaking of family, how have you seen your kids change your life or the way you make decisions?
MM: Well a parent makes a decision for a collective now. Every decision I make even if they [my kids] are not involved literally, they are involved. They are involved in even my own personal decisions and I take them into account. I have to think down the line further. I have to think more than, “Am I going to be okay?” There are a lot of things where I think, “I’ll be fine. But wait a minute, what about the ones that don’t know better, or don’t know how to handle that situation?” So they are always in all of my decisions.
RM: So much of the film is galaxy hopping and wormholes and rooted in science, but it also bring us to the importance of having hope, and how love affects what we do, and faith. How did these themes stand out to you as you were preparing for this role?
MM: I think that comes out of the basis that this film is about family. We know love, commitment, faith – these things have a measurable effect on our life and what we do, or what we have done. We don’t know how to measure it. In some ways I think that is sort of the mystery and practical pursuit of science. Our brains and our emotions, and our spirits aren’t really like computers. It’s not a mathematical equation that you can go, Ah, if… then… And that is why I think the human element will always be needed and necessary, especially in a world where we have computers that land planes and navigate – you still need human intuition and improvisation, human will to make decisions at a certain time because each moment is a little bit different.
RM: How did winning the Oscar this year for Best Actor change your opportunities or your career? MM: One thing I had talked with Chris [director Christopher Nolan] about was being obsessed… and to approach the job like it’s the last one, or approach it like it is the only one. Probably with respect to what has happened to me over the last couple years I have more of an obsession even over what I am doing at this moment. This could be the last one – I hope it’s not – but it could be.
RM: How did working on this film and the themes change your perspective on space exploration and whether it’s critical to humanity?
MM: It was something I didn’t consider as much in the vernacular of thinking in that as we evolve is the new frontier out there, and if it is, why? I just didn’t consider it or think about it that much. One of the things I got from this film is that mankind’s expectations have to be greater than ourselves. The further out there we go, the more we find out and learn it is about you and me, right here. It’s much more of a tangible idea, and an attainable thought. I am in no way an expert on it but I can have conversations about it now that I couldn’t have had a year before getting on this film. But it’s now a much more four-dimensional outlook on where we are going and which way to look for what that new frontier is.
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