After a very promising early career, with well-recieved appearances in Dazed and Confused and A Time To Kill and Contact, poor Matthew McConaughey somehow gradually turned into a shirtless, bongo-playing punchline, best known for bad rom-coms (most likely with Kate Hudson).
But when the first season of True Detective aired on HBO, only a few weeks after his cameo in The Wolf of Wall Street and his Oscar-winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club, and people got a look at McConaughey’s haunted, driven performance as Rust Cohle, everyone remembered, Oh yeah, this guy is super-talented! Pretty soon people were going back to his most recent run of movies – The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, Killer Joe, Mud, Magic Mike – and his career was reborn, complete with a cute name: The McConaughssance.
As we close in on the second-season premiere of True Detective, the parallels to that first season are many, starting with the fact that the principal cast is loaded with actors who could use a McConaughssance of their own. So whose career is likeliest to explode after True Detective season 2?
Colin Farrell was the next big thing in the early 2000s, snapping up leading roles in Minority Report, Alexander, Phone Booth, The New World, Miami Vice and others. Oddly enough it was around the time of my favorite of his roles—the conflicted hit man in the pitch-black comedy In Bruges—that he started to drop out of sight. There’s no question that Farrell is a good actor, he just seems to have struggled to find a role that connects with mainstream audiences. Like McConaughey, he has always been popular with the ladies, and by the looks of the trailers he’s playing “tortured and intense,” which is well in his wheelhouse. On the other hand, he’s got a very unfortunate mustache.
Vince Vaughn has spent nearly his entire career doing one thing: saying funny things really fast. Or does he just say things so fast it makes them funny? Kind of a little of both. Anyway, ever since he was totally money in Swingers, Vaughn has been doing the motormouth act pretty much nonstop, in movies like Made, Old School, Dodgeball, Starsky & Hutch, Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up, The Dilemma, The Internship, and many others, to diminishing returns. The idea that he’s playing dead-serious, as a career criminal trying to go legit, is interesting, and combined with the fact that he was such a big star for so long makes him the perfect reclamation project.
Taylor Kitsch, I can’t honestly say much about. I’ve never watched Friday Night Lights, the project Kitsch is most closely associated with, but he made a big enough impression on the show that Hollywood quickly lined him up for starmaking parts in attempted franchise-starters John Carter and Battleship. Neither connected with audiences, so Tim Riggins he remains. Will this role be the one that moves him out of niche eye-candy status and into mainstream stardom? Related: Is Taylor Kitsch good-looking enough to pull off a California Highway Patrol uniform?
Rachel McAdams broke out as the lead villain in Mean Girls and The Notebook and has since settled in to a long string of romantic comedies (and romantic dramas) like Wedding Crashers, The Family Stone, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Morning Glory, and Midnight in Paris, plus a tour of duty in Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes movies. She is one of the most appealing actresses working, thanks to a powerful intelligence that seems to radiate through her eyes, and an innate charm that comes through even when she’s playing someone less than sympathetic, but with a couple of exceptions she always seems to be better than the material she’s playing. She’s in multiplexes right now in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, yet another poorly-reviewed romantic comedy, so playing a driven, uncompromising, stabby sheriff’s deputy may be just the thing to put her on the A-List.
Assuming that True Detective season 2 is as interesting and well-written as season 1, it’s a good bet that all four of the leads are going to get a solid career bounce out of it, but if I had to put money on whose will be the biggest, it would be on Vince Vaughn. Like McConaughey, there’s a lot of affection out there for this guy, and a sense that he’s been wasting his talents on projects that are beneath him, and audiences and the Hollywood machine are both going to be more than happy to welcome him back.
You heard it here first: Get ready for the Vaughnaissance!