Back when casting was ongoing for the Marvel sequel Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, a “big name” was teased for the role of Star-Lord’s father. Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey subsequently surfaced as the top choice to take on the part, which made sense given that Chris Pratt can certainly have a similar “alright, alright, alright” vibe, but the match wasn’t meant to be. McConaughey passed on the role, and it eventually went to Kurt Russell—by no means a step down.
So why was McConaughey reluctant to sign on? Well, as the actor explains it, it came down to a choice between doing Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 or the Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower. During an interview with Playboy, McConaughey sounded off on why Dark Tower was the more appealing choice:
“I like Guardians of the Galaxy, but what I saw was ‘It’s successful, and now we’ve got room to make a colorful part for another big-name actor.’ I’d feel like an amendment. The Dark Tower script was well written, I like the director [Nikolaj Arcel] and his take on it, and I can be the creator, the author of the Man in Black—a.k.a. the Devil—in my version of this Stephen King novel. We’ve done the first one. It’s a fantastic thriller that takes place in another realm, an alternate universe, but it’s very much grounded. For instance, the gunslinger’s weapon isn’t a lightsaber or something; it’s a pistol. I enjoyed approaching my character as if I were the Devil having a good time, getting turned on by exposing human hypocrisies wherever he finds them.”
Indeed, as the Man in Black in The Dark Tower, McConaughey took on a role in a franchise-starter, not a franchise. This is intended to be a multi-film adaptation of the King book, with a TV element that may or may not involve McConaughey and co-star Idris Elba, so it’s an ambitious undertaking. Basically it sounds like McConaughey was more up for a challenge rather than something that’s almost guaranteed to succeed like Guardians 2.
And that’s commendable. As much as I like Guardians and what writer/director James Gunn has crafted in his corner of the Marvel universe, we all kind of know what we’re going to get there. That doesn’t make it bad, but for an actor like McConaughey who’s prone to shaking things up, it makes sense that he’d want to take the less certain and more challenging route—not to mention the fact that there’s probably more room to explore and take ownership of his role in The Dark Tower as opposed to the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe machine.
Did McConaughey make the right choice? We’ll find out this year as Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 opens in theaters on May 5th and The Dark Tower is slated for release on July 28th.