Matthew McConaughey leads Free State of Jones as Newt Knight, a Confederate soldier who decides to ditch the army when his young nephew is killed in battle. Soon after that he becomes completely fed up with the Confederacy’s slavery advocacy and unfair treatment of poor farmers. Ultimately, he’s forced to take refuge in a swamp and that’s where he meets a group of runaway slaves and begins building a rebellion that leads Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy.
With Free State of Jones making its way into theaters this weekend, I got the opportunity to sit down with McConaughey to talk about making the film, his reunion with his young Mud co-star, Jacob Lofland, what he thinks Newt Knight might be up to if he were still around today and much more. You can catch it all in the video interview at the top of this article. And, in case you missed it, click here for my interview with director Gary Ross and here for a video of Ross and the cast picking the unsung heroes of the production.
Here’s the official synopsis for Free State of Jones:
Directed by four-time Oscar® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and starring Oscar® winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.