Matthew McConaughey: No Shirt, No Problem

Magic Mike’s Matthew McConaughey strips down the gay community’s early enthusiasm for the film, his own dirty dance number, and why he’s always stood up for the underdog.

BY Brandon Voss

May 16 2012 5:00 AM ET

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Considering his propensity for being shirtless, it’s fitting that Matthew McConaughey plays Dallas, owner and father figure of an all-male strip club, in Stephen Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, which is in theaters June 29. Also starring in July’s NC-17 thriller Killer Joe and currently appearing in the dark indie comedy Bernie, which reunites the 42-year-old actor with Dazed and Confused director Richard Linklater, McConaughey reveals the effort behind his exhibitionism.

What was your inspiration for Dallas in Magic Mike?
When Soderbergh first called and pitched me the part, I just laughed and said yes. On the phone, I asked, “Do you have any initial direction for me to go on?” He took a deep breath and said, “Well, you really can’t go wrong.” So I just took off and flew with this guy. I was going for Jim Morrison meets A Clockwork Orange, because he’s like a deity in his own mind.

Although he mainly acts as the club’s emcee, Dallas also has a big striptease that leaves little to the imagination.
Oh, it leaves something to the imagination. It wasn’t in the script, but Soderbergh said in the beginning that if it felt right, I could strip at the end of the movie. I said, “I gotta dance, man.” I would regret it for the rest of my life if I was in a male stripper movie and didn’t get up there and strip myself.

Aside from Channing Tatum, whose real-life stripper past inspired the film, I’d imagine that you were the most comfortable with stripping.
At first it was scary as hell, but then it became like a drug, and I couldn’t wait to do it again. Look, I love to dance, but I’ve never been a stripper. Channing’s one of the best hip-hop street dancers I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t want to challenge his style, so I worked on my own strengths. I also knew that my dance had to be the dirtiest. It had to be wonderfully filthy.

Did your striptease require a lot of rehearsal?
I found the song I wanted, we got it cleared very early, and I started working on the choreography from the very beginning. I was working two, three nights a week to get that down. It was a ball.

Nice thong, by the way.
It’s a great thong. We took a lot of time designing it because the thong’s your armor, man. It’s your sword. Well, I guess it’s really the sheath for the sword.

Did you consider using a stripper stand-in?
No way. That’s all me up there. I don’t need a stunt ass.

Who’s the hottest Magic Mike stripper?
Dallas, of course. [Laughs] Everybody was pretty damn ripped already, but boy, if you really want to get men in great shape, just tell them they’re going to play male strippers in a movie and have their shit onscreen for the rest of time. Vanity, baby.

Because of how comfortable you are with your body, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that you were once a stripper. When times got tough at the beginning of your career, did you ever consider stripping to make extra dough?
[Laughs] No, I never thought about it. I was down in Florida with my mother and a couple buddies when I was 15, and when my mom went to the Chippendales show, it never crossed my mind that maybe that was my route.

Your physique has played a major part in your career. Do you look forward to aging gracefully into traditional “dad” roles that let you gain weight and keep your cardigans buttoned?
That ain’t nowhere near. If and when that day gets here, great, but right now I feel as young as I’ve ever felt in body, mind, and spirit.

Are you aware of how enthusiastic the gay community is about Magic Mike?
Well, I would hope and reckon so. They should be pumped, and they should come out in droves, because they won’t be let down. I think they’ll come out more excited then they came in. I look forward to hearing the chatter of the gay community after they see it, including their answer to your question of who’s the hottest.

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