Matthew McConaughey

“Interstellar,” the latest blockbuster from director Christopher Nolan, manages to secure the trifecta of convincing emotion, stellar effects and an overall creative design. It utilizes the enormity of outer space to its full advantage, showing off incredible worlds and expansive galaxies. The movie soars, thanks to its breathtaking scope and enormous size. It also delves into the emotional connection between family and highlights how that bond is tested from great distances.

As severe weather threatens Earth’s dwindling food supply, former space engineer Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, does his best to protect his family from the unforgiving dust storms that plague the country. After he and his young daughter Murph, played by Mackenzie Foy, stumble upon the remains of NASA, Cooper is offered a chance to lead a team on the most dangerous mission possible — finding a new planet in a far off galaxy in order to relocate humanity. Crushed to leave his family behind, Cooper, along with fellow astronaut Amelia Brand, played by Anne Hathaway, ascend into the dark recesses of space to seek a new home.

The magnificent aspect of the film is the sheer size of the world constructed by Nolan. It’s enjoyable to experience the massive set-pieces he has dreamed up, even though they all are similarly barren and deadly. The combination of practical and computer-generated effects blend perfectly to forge an almost tangible universe. The vast, quiet emptiness of the solar system is beautiful and contends with 2013’s “Gravity” for the best cinematic presentation of outer space. Even Nolan’s depiction of Earth as a desolate land blanketed in dust is an entertaining place to traverse, as well as an ideal setting to introduce characters.

The connection between Cooper and his daughter, as well as his relationship to the rest of the crew, fuels the story. Nolan shows how their bond is able to transcend both time and space, as he examines how the variation of time can impact the relationships of the crew members and the people left back on Earth.

While McConaughey is great as the caring, emotional Cooper, it takes a while to buy into his role as a down-to-Earth genius. By the time the narrative reaches the first of many emotional climaxes, however, he is able to pull off the heartbreaking portrayal of a man sacrificing everything for his family and home planet. Hathaway is solid as the determined crew member, but she is underplayed and lacks a strong presence. Foy is stunning as Cooper’s wise and headstrong daughter. Jessica Chastain also makes a great unexpected appearance.

The only issue with “Interstellar” is a confusing narrative packed with exposition-heavy dialogue. While the film is obviously a science-fiction epic that has to dive into jargon-heavy explanations, it is difficult at first to go along with the scientific concepts blended in with the story. The plot is complicated and, while fast-paced and emotional, seems to hide its failings and inconsistencies behind the science.

“Interstellar” is a gigantic, ambitious film that is occasionally thought-provoking. Although the narrative is patchy in a few places, it delivers an emotional punch that will resonate with anyone who has ever sacrificed for someone else. A great leading performance by McConaughey and some of the most magnificent special effects ever used to illustrate the galaxy make “Interstellar” a noble addition to Nolan’s brilliant filmography.  

Matthew McConaughey attends the Texas football game Saturday evening in recognition of recent Distinguished Alumnus Awards. UT alumni recipients were awarded for their lifetime achievements and contributions.

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

For the 56th year, the Texas Exes alumni association recognized the work of UT alumni through its 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Awards. 

The 2014 recipients included former football player Earl Campbell, former regent H. Scott Caven Jr., businessman John Massey, astronaut Karen Nyberg, actor Matthew McConaughey and Dealey Decherd Herndon, former executive director of the State Preservation Board of Texas. Jody Conradt, former UT women’s basketball coach, was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award.

In his acceptance speech, McConaughey said before attending the University, he decided to become a lawyer and thought about applying to Southern Methodist University. McConaughey, who won the Oscar for Best Actor in March, said his brother told him that because their oil business was going bankrupt, it would be cheaper to go to UT. 

“For that, I am happy the oil business went to pot because this was the four best years of my life,” McConaughey said. “When I tell people about this university, I tell them they will have access to a great education but also learn how to compete and engage. While I was here, I made a lot of my closest friends here and at Delta Tau Delta.”        

Remembered for his punishing style of play and becoming UT’s first Heisman winner, Campbell, who received the Heisman Trophy in 1977, said it was hard to initially understand the impact the University had on him.

“It wasn’t until I got to the NFL when I realized what UT gave me,” Campbell said. “I noticed this with teammates with the [Houston] Oilers as they talked to me more about Coach [Darrell K] Royal and the University and things that I went through.”

Caven served on the Board of Regents from 2003-09, including as chairman from 2007-09. In his speech, Caven talked about the significance of the hires he was able to make with the board, such as William Powers Jr. as president, Francisco Cigarroa as chancellor and Bruce Zimmerman as head of UT Investment Management Company.

“Having served on the Board of Regents and UTIMCO, it gave me opportunities to make a difference,” Caven said. “One of our most important duties was choosing our leaders.” 

Nyberg, who completed her doctorate in 1998, has participated in two missions and logged more than 75 million miles in space as a NASA astronaut.

“When I came to UT, I started as a graduate student,” Nyberg said. “It is because of the people I met and the opportunities I was given that I was able to accomplish my dreams.”

This year’s recipients joined a long list of well-known alumni, including Walter Cronkite, Lady Bird Johnson, Ben Crenshaw, Michael Dell and Adm. William McRaven, the next UT System chancellor. 

The list of accounts users follow on Twitter is a snapshot of one’s life — if that life is comprised of guilty pleasures, unread news sites, and celebrities from one’s childhood whose tweets simply couldn’t be missed.

But it’s a new school year. Now is the time to reinvent web personalities and start down a new path of enlightenment. As a helpful push in the right direction, here is a selection of Twitter accounts to follow that will tune up anyone’s web presence and eradicate Twitter feed self-doubt.

The Tower — @UT_Tower 

Following the Tower is like an automatic ticket to sitting with the cool kids in middle school. Every night people flood Facebook and Twitter asking, “Why is the Tower orange?” @UT_Tower keeps its followers up to date on the happenings involving UT’s iconic structure. Knowledge is power, especially when it involves colored lights and UT football wins.

UT Dean of Students — @utdos

According to the UT Dean of Students’ Twitter, the lawn on the south side of Jester has been known as “Jester Beach.” By keeping students updated on the latest student-oriented news, facts and information, @utdos makes every follower feel like they are an important part of the University. Not to mention, most of the time @utdos is part of “team follow back,” meaning the account will follow anyone who follows it. Users will probably get a follower out of the exchange, which is always a plus.

Saved You a Click — @SavedYouAClick 

As a busy, tech-savvy college student, there isn’t always time to read everything that’s trending on the web. That’s where Saved You A Click comes in. Instead of having to click on every link that says “Hilary Duff broke the ice bucket challenge,” “Why is this European country done with beagles?” or “You’ll never guess which Backstreet boy likes celery,” this account will do just what it says by answering the question right on a user’s Twitter feed. Never feel out of the loop again.

Matthew McConaughey — @McConaughey 

Despite his big win at the Oscars last year, Matthew McConaughey is far from the most impressive UT alumnus. He tweets randomly and with less consistency than we have come to expect from our celebrity class. Sometimes his tweets are just plain boring pictures of the Atlanta airport. There is still a reason to follow him. Keep an eye out, so as not to miss a surprise visit he might make to the UT Honors Quad on a quiet morning.

Whataburger — @Whataburger 

Self-awareness often scares us. The idea that a corporation can understand the feelings we have for it — that a fast food chain can understand our needs and our feelings — is frightening. Whataburger has become one of us, one of the individuals, and it understands how much UT students crave it. Whataburger’s Twitter feed reflects our own desires for late night Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits and pulls us in.

The Daily Texan — @thedailytexan, @texancomics

Finally, follow The Daily Texan Twitter account, @thedailytexan. It aims to ensure that users are never caught off guard by campus news. But an often overlooked gem of The Daily Texan’s online presence is @texancomics. You can expect many things when following Texan Comics: cartoons, hilarious live-tweeting of campus and national events and the
occasional fun fact. 

Photo Credit: Hannah Hadidi | Daily Texan Staff

When I first heard SXSW was in Texas, I was like, “gross.” I don’t want to be walking around in these brand new Manolo Blahniks stepping in cow shit, do I? But when Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar for playing that drug dealer, I totally started reconsidering. The state might have something to offer besides oil and obesity. When I remembered “Varsity Blues” is my favorite movie, I thought I’d give the Lone Star State a chance. So all you betches who read The Daily Texan, here are my recommendations!!!!

Music

Flux Pavilion. I totally saw him once and he invited me backstage to hang out — OMG perv, nothing happened. Go see his show and tell him I said hey! But don’t if you’re fugly. Seriously, don’t.

2 Chainz. Gretchen Wieners had him at her Bat Mitzvah and he was totes awesome. Her dad, the inventor of toaster strudel, got pissed at him for getting stoned in the butler’s pantry, but whatevs they’re like, famous. And you can REALLY twerk to “I’m Different.”

Parties

Like all of them, duh!

The University’s golf team extended an invitation Monday to UT alumnus Matthew McConaughey, who won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Actor on Sunday evening, to join them in a round of golf. The invitation has not yet received a response from the actor.

The team asked the actor, “hey McConaughey – wanna play a round with us when you get back to Austin?” and posted a picture of McConaughey’s University headshot to the team’s Instagram. According to Ashley Cushman, spokeswoman for the department of intercollegiate athletics at UT, the picture was originally posted by the official University Instagram account, identifying McConaughey as a medalist at the 1993 intramural golf championship.

“[We] used a screenshot of the image inviting the UT alum to play a round with the Texas Longhorns when he’s back in Austin following his Academy Award press circuit,” Cushman said. “It is a valid and standing offer to our fellow Longhorn and the 2014 Academy Award winner.”

If McConaughey accepts the invitation, the team will get NCAA compliance from the University — following the team’s culture of compliance — before they would be able to hit the course. John Fields, head coach of the men’s golf team, said he does not know whether McConaughey will even see the invitation, due to his busy schedule.

“I’ve met him a few times before, and he’s a great guy and a good golfer,” Fields said. “We’re obviously building champions here … One of our past coaches, Harvey Penick, said in [his book], ‘If you want to be a good putter, you should go to dinner with good putters.’… I would imagine winning an Oscar is very similar to winning a national [golf] championship.”

Kalena Preus, economics freshman and member of the University’s golf team, said he believes golfing with McConaughey would be a great opportunity to get the team involved with past alumni, especially with someone of his “stature and savvy.”

“It would be just like any other round of golf,” Preus said. “Except for the fact that he’s an Ocsar winner and all around stud … No doubt, he will get back to us in the near future. There’s nothing better than a round of golf with the UT men’s golf team; I can assure you that.” 

2014 Oscar Awards recap

The 86th Academy Awards proceeded mostly according to expectation, but that expectation was such a pipe dream it seemed impossible that all of it could happen. “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture, while “Gravity” won Best Director, a split many were predicting, but just as many thought could never actually happen. Distinguished alumnus Matthew McConaughey won the award for Best Actor, completing his McConaissance and erasing his rom-com laden past forever. John Ridley became the second black screenwriter to ever win an Oscar. It was a big night.

Host Ellen DeGeneres started things out with a bang. She was funny and down-to-earth but borrowed the snark of many of her Oscar-hosting predecessors to varying degrees of success. DeGeneres is known as one of the few truly nice comedians, but, last night, she was surprisingly cynical, comparing Liza Minnelli to a drag impersonator and mocking nominee June Squibb’s age. Mean doesn’t really work on Ellen, but she realized that quickly and turned it around, ordering pizza for audience members and taking the most popular selfie of all time. She knew when to be visible and when to let the show go. Even though the ceremony went well over its allotted time, it never felt like it dragged, and a big part of that is due to DeGeneres’s spot-on mix of energy and detachment.

“Gravity” was the big winner of the night, taking home seven of its 10 nominations, including Director, Cinematography, Score and most of the other technical categories. The biggest loser? “American Hustle,” which was nominated for 10 Oscars (as many as “Gravity”) and won zero. “Gravity”’s dominance cost many other films their chance at awards too, including “Captain Phillips” and “Nebraska,” both of which also went home empty-handed. “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron has long been an industry favorite with his unique visual style and created an entirely new way of filmmaking, making his expected victory a deserved one. He is also the first Latin filmmaker to win the Oscar for Directing.

The live performances, always a welcome diversion at the Academy Awards, were hit and miss. Pharrell performed a lively rendition of the admittedly repetitive “Happy” and even got some audience participation from nominated actresses Lupita Nyong’o, Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. U2 did a flawless acoustic rendition of their nominated song “Ordinary Love,” and Karen O and Ezra Koenig staged a charming version of “The Moon Song” from “Her.” But possibly the biggest surprise of the night was Idina Menzel’s disappointing performance of “Let it Go.” Easily the most anticipated of all the performers, Menzel fell flat, seeming terrified and unconfident. It actually made the song’s subsequent Oscar win seem awkward.

All the acting categories shook out exactly as they were predicted. Frontrunners Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto took home Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine” and Best Supporting Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club,” respectively. Slightly less assured pick Lupita Nyong’o won Supporting Actress for her work in “12 Years a Slave,” and McConaughey won Best Actor, also for “Dallas Buyers Club.” While all these actors were largely expected to win, it’s hard to argue with any of the choices. All delivered career best — or career launching — performances and charmed the pants off the awards circuit.

The biggest moment of the night was the final one, when Will Smith presented “12 Years a Slave” with the award for Best Picture. Steve McQueen was the first African-American to win an Oscar for producing and literally jumped for joy. “12 Year a Slave” only won three awards in total, but the fact that a grueling but stunning film about slavery won Best Picture, an award normally reserved for the most palatable, middle-of-the-road fare, made the supposedly most important awards in film seem relevant for the first time in quite a while.

Photo Credit: Connor Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

In the short span of two episodes, HBO’s crime anthology series “True Detective” introduced viewers to the most intrinsically complicated duo since “Breaking Bad”’s Walter and Jesse.

“True Detective” can be considered HBO’s answer to FX’s “American Horror Story.”  Each season will serve as its own self-contained narrative with a definite beginning, middle and end. The first season zeroes in on detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, whose investigation of a grisly murder evolves into a 17-year search for answers. While the whodunit aspect of the premise is the superficial drawing point for viewers, the show’s most essential aspect is its psychological exploration of its two leads.

Cohle and Hart, played with fiery chemistry by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, respectively, are polar opposites. Hart is the good cop, a man who claims to live simply. He adheres to the stability of a married life and fits the mold of a good father to his two daughters. He serves as an entry point for viewers, and, at first glance, he appears to serve the role of an everyman counterbalance to McConaughey’s eccentric Cohle. 

As of the second episode, the thin veil of this self-purported family man has been all but torn away through his steamy love affair with a much younger woman. Rather than acknowledging this misstep, Hart instead justifies it as a means of keeping his marriage alive. This believable reversal of viewer expectations in the span of two episodes is a deft feat of writing prowess coupled with a passive aggressive performance by Harrelson.

Rather than continuing to explore Hart, episode two shifts narrative gears and brings viewers into the bleak and kaleidoscopically disturbed mind of Cohle. After a life of great tragedy and emotional upheaval, Cohle is a shell of a man who exists because he must. He enters the story following a failed marriage perpetuated by the accidental death of his 3-year-old daughter. This event spiraled Cohle into a whirlwind of drug abuse and violence, which further stoked his inner workings. 

The show has its share of dark humor, with Cohle often spouting his dogma of depression much to the hilarious chagrin of the more grounded Hart. From Cohle’s existential musings comes the show’s best writing, exhibiting a brooding tone that carries with it a hauntingly insightful wisdom. McConaughey is brilliant here, giving an unusually subdued but altogether commanding, performance that is unlike anything he’s done before.

“True Detective” is shaping up to be one of the best shows of 2014. In just two episodes, the stunning performances of its two leads have shown that this is not only a show about solving a mystery. “True Detective” is a show about solving the minds of two men by uncovering the skillfully hidden clues within human relationships. The mystery is just icing on the cake.

Photo Credit: Colin Zelinski | Daily Texan Staff

Matthew McConaughey’s career was laughable two years ago. The image of a shirtless, stoned McConaughey playing the bongos became etched in the national consciousness after his brush with marijuana possession in 1999. After a string of critical and commercial disappointments like “Sahara” and “Fool’s Gold,” McConaughey became the butt of numerous jokes. 

But since 2011, McConaughey has enjoyed a slow, unstoppable turnaround in both the quality of his work and the public’s reception to it. McConaughey was not always a romantic-comedy mainstay, but began his career working for well-known directors like Steven Spielberg, Richard Linklater and Joel Schumacher and turning in performances worthy of a serious leading man.

His first significant role was the Austin-centered comedy “Dazed and Confused.” But after achieving recognition, McConaughey moved quickly toward dramatic parts in films like “A Time to Kill,” “Contact” and Spielberg’s “Amistad.” These were all well-received leading roles alongside ‘A’-list co-stars and directors, but were followed by increasingly fluffy romantic comedies like “The Wedding Planner” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” By “Failure to Launch,” it seemed official: McConaughey was a laughing stock. “Sahara,” his first attempt at carrying a studio tent pole in eight years, did not recoup its budget and sounded the death knell for his career. 

After a few more lightweight romantic comedies, McConaughey surprised audiences with 2011’s “The Lincoln Lawyer.” While the critical consensus was “good but not great,” McConaughey received praise across the board and the film was financially successful. A year later, McConaughey came roaring back with roles in Richard Linklater’s “Bernie,” William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike.” All three played to McConaughey’s strengths, allowing him to utilize the Texas drawl and southern charm he is so famous for. 

The pitch-black comedy “Bernie” reunited McConaughey with Linklater, the director who made him a star with “Dazed and Confused.” Watching McConaughey spit out the words “Les Miserables” like they were poison was comedy gold, but that was just the beginning of the actor’s incredible comeback. “Killer Joe” was another dark comedy involving murder, mayhem and fried chicken, and McConaughey walked the line between charming and chilling so effortlessly it feels like watching Robert Mitchum in “Night of the Hunter.” 

“Magic Mike” proved to be the clincher. As veteran stripper Dallas, McConaughey owned the best parts of the image he spent the past decade accidentally cultivating, displaying genuine range while subtly acknowledging his past as a frequently shirtless sex icon. 

“Bernie” and “Killer Joe” were small, independent films that made modest returns, but “Magic Mike” netted $167 million on a budget of just $7 million. All three garnered attenntion for McConaughey. Combining all three performances, he won Best Supporting Actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, National Society of Film Critics and Independent Spirit Awards. Before that, his last major award was an MTV Movie Award from 1997 for Best Breakthrough Performance in “A Time to Kill.”  

Twenty years after “Dazed and Confused,” McConaughey has engineered something most people in entertainment only dream about: a second chance. In 2013, he starred in “Mud,” another gritty, southern-fried thriller with shades of Tom Sawyer that earned him scores of praise and comparisons to Paul Newman. He ends the year with two Oscar contenders, “Dallas Buyers Club” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The former is a role for which he is expected to receive an Oscar nomination, and the latter is a film by one of cinema’s highest regarded filmmakers, Martin Scorsese. 

Critics have dubbed this period from 2011 to the present the “McConaissance,” and it’s hard to argue with that. Over the past two years, McConaughey switched effortlessly from thriller to comedy to biopic. He’s reasserted his bank-ability as a leading man and turned in award-winning supporting performances. 

Next year, McConaughey will star in Christopher Nolan’s latest film, “Interstellar,” and co-star with Woody Harrelson in “True Detective,” a miniseries for HBO. American celebrity culture does not give many second chances, but it’s clear that McConaughey isn’t wasting his. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

In “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” Matthew McConaughey plays a racist, homophobic electrician named Ron Woodroof. The film, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, almost goes out of its way to avoid becoming what it easily could have been: a sentimental and heartfelt tale of one bigot learning to accept others — and probably finding love in the process. In forsaking the obvious route, “Dallas Buyer’s Club” manages to craft a down-to-earth and inspiring story of survival. 

Woodroof is based on the real-life activist of the same name who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, a time when the disease was still widely considered to only be a threat to homosexuals. When Woodroof is diagnosed, he is shocked. But after taking stock of his deteriorating body — McConaughey reportedly lost 47 pounds for the role — he tries to get his hands on the AZT drug, which was untested at the time. Woodroof is told he has 30 days to live. Waiting six months for the first round of human trials to be approved by the FDA isn’t an option. He starts stealing the drug — nearly dying due to the drug’s destructive effects on his already frail immune system — and later finds a doctor in Mexico who will sell him a pharmaceutical cocktail of supplements and medicines that is not available in the U.S. 

Always looking to make money, Woodroof starts importing the drugs from Mexico and Japan and selling them to AIDS patients in Dallas. With the assistance of Rayon (Jared Leto), a drag queen and fellow patient, Woodroof opens the Dallas Buyer’s Club — a membership based supply of AIDS symptom-fighting drugs that cannot be obtained anywhere else. Most of the club’s members are gay, and the film benefits from never letting itself forget that Woodroof’s actions are based on self-interest. He does become an activist, but only out of the need to raise support for his efforts in the face of increasing attention from the federal government. Woodroof grows more accepting of his clientele, and the slow dissipation of prejudice is more believable because it is inspired by the primal need to survive. 

McConaughey and Leto deliver outstanding performances. There is more at play than the physical transformations the actors took on for their roles. Woodroof is gruff, sarcastic and volatile for most of the movie, but there’s an unmistakable charisma there. He is clever, and it’s easy to see why people are drawn to him despite his dour exterior. Rayon,
meanwhile, makes for the most unlikely partner-in-crime Woodroof could have asked for. Leto is
heartbreaking and hilarious, often at the same time. 

“Dallas Buyer’s Club” succeeds because it doesn’t attempt to sensationalize an unsentimental issue. At times it feels like the businessman’s response to “Rent.” While that classic musical depicted AIDS as a failed suppressor to vibrant energy of life, “Dallas Buyer’s Club” shows how the disease organized those who weren’t ready to see their lives end. Woodroof began by looking out for himself and inadvertently became an unlikely champion for AIDS victims. He probably never imagined such a thing happening, but he played the hand he was dealt.

The fact that “Mud” came together as well as it did is something of a miracle. Director Jeff Nichols put the project into high gear just as his choice for the titular role, Matthew McConaughey, broke free of romantic comedies and started taking on more challenging roles. The resulting collaboration is an excellent, wonderfully told coming-of-age story with a dynamite performance from McConaughey.

The Daily Texan participated in a roundtable interview with Nichols and McConaughey at this year’s South By Southwest Film Festival.

The Daily Texan: The film is a really rich coming-of-age tale. What inspired you to write it?

Jeff Nichols: I started thinking about this back in college. I had the idea of a man hiding out on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River. Immediately, I was thinking of Matthew for this part. I just kind of kept it and started to add layers to it, and in 2006 I sat down and started writing it. I wrote the first 30 pages and got through the first big dialogue scene on the beach with the boys, and then I stopped and said, “I’m not ready to write this yet. I’m just not prepared.” The same summer I wrote “Take Shelter,” I was also writing “Mud,” and I finished it. I just kind of always had Matthew in mind for this part and was fortunate enough that my career got to a point where I could actually give it to him.

DT: Matthew, what were your thoughts when you first read the script?

Matthew McConaughey: That it was very specific, that it had a very specific voice. The character had language that I’d never really read before, but I loved the language and it was highly mysterious to me. I loved the superstition, and I loved that it was a love story. I loved that it was about this longing and pursuit for an unconditional love, almost innocent yet very fierce love, for this woman. As a character, it was fun for me to go, this guy is living off the grid, and he’s not really civilized. It was being able to be that Labrador that you kick off the porch a thousand times and he keeps coming back. This guy Mud, who’s this poet in my mind, is this sort of aristocrat of the heart.

DT: Young stars Jacob Lofland and Tye Sheridan pull it off so well, and they really hold your attention. When you’re writing and casting for that and you finally cast these kids, do you expand on their roles?

Nichols: You have to give credit to these kids for pulling off these words. Tye had come out “The Tree of Life,” and he had gone through this kind of amazing experience which I call [Terrence] Malick boot camp. He never had a script, and so he’d never had that problem that I think a lot of child actors have. They just get weird and they get reality ground out of them. I knew Jacob immediately when I saw him. I was like, “That’s Neckbone.” There’s something in their personality — they’re mature, but at the same time, totally suit their age. These kids were able to ingest all of this material and it came back out sounding like them.

McConaughey: But Tye was more of an actor. He knows what he’s doing. He has a process. Jacob was someone who is exactly who he is on-screen, who had the confidence to be himself in front of that camera.

DT: I thought you effectively captured the feeling of growing up in a small town. What was your inspiration?

Nichols: I grew up in the suburbs. In Little Rock, you drive 30 minutes, and you’re in the middle of these places. My grandparents grew up in a very small town, so I was in a very unique position. Had I grown up in a small town like that, I might have some resentment or I might be one of these people that’s like, “Ahh, I gotta get out of there!” I had an outsider’s point of view but with insider access. I’d go and stay for weeks at a time with my grandparents and be brought into their community and friends and everything else, so I got to observe people and observe this way of life. It’s characters that I feel comfortable with and a location that I feel comfortable with, which isn’t to say it’s easy. It’s just something that I feel like I understand.