Diggin’ his inner `Ed’: The subjects of `EDtv’ are ones McConaughey knows well : instant celebrity and the pitfalls of fame
March 26, 1999, Austin American-Statesman
Sucking a cigarette, scrunched into an executive chair with his bootie-clad feet propped on a conference table, Matthew McConaughey looks to be fighting the Hollywood glamour thang with East Texas gusto. Smoke wafts in the air, mingling with the decorum he’s thrown to the wind.
McConaughey, who grew up in Longview, doesn’t rise to shake hands with two strangers who enter the room, and he speaks in such a guttural mumble that a tape recorder only picks up a fraction of his words. The actor has just landed in Austin via Los Angeles, so his weathered leather coat, Longhorns T-shirt and pajama-like pants are excused. (But what’s with the booties?)
None of this matters much. McConaughey’s celebrity assets shine through the civilian smoke screen. He can’t erase the clean symmetry of his matinee idol mug, can’t diminish the klieg-light pearlies (that will take a few more smokes). His dimples are doing their dimply thing, and are his cough drop-blue eyes really twinkling?
McConaughey, 29, was in Austin March 17 for the Texas premiere of “EDtv” at the Paramount Theatre as part of the South by Southwest Film Festival. He plays Ed in the Ron Howard comedy, a fresh and funny probe of our ravenous celebrity culture and the pitfalls of fame.
“Ron did something really special with it,” McConaughey says. “It’s fun and you get a little message about calling yourself on your own b.s.”
Superficial similarities to last year’s “The Truman Show” abound, but “EDtv” orbits a more accessible, less portentous universe. It’s a mainstream romp in which an East Texan named Ed gets his own TV show that requires cameras to follow his every move 24 hours a day. Unlike Truman in “The Truman Show,” Ed is a willing participant in the mass exposure. He relishes it — for a while.
The University of Texas graduate, who got his break in 1993 in Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused,” resides in Austin when not working on far-flung projects. He took a break from the Italian shoot of the World War II submarine drama “U-571” to be in the United States for “EDtv” premieres in L.A. and Austin.
“I’m more than glad to be in Austin, man,” he says. “I love it here. I love the people. I sleep well at night. There’s a wonderful pace.
“It’s a place where you can find people who hang on to the right things and traditions, yet they’re modern and progressive enough to take on new things that work. They allow you to come in and be whoever you want to be, as long as you’re on the good guys’ side. There’s a lot of leverage with that, too.”