After watching Oscar-winning actors in films throughout the ages, it seems nearly impossible for those actors to be anything more than merely a two-dimensional face on a screen. Yet, one of the most coveted actors of this generation, Matthew McConaughey, will be meeting students of UT Austin in the Fall. Not only is he easy on the eyes, but he has appeared in over 50 films and produced five films. After winning an Oscar and Golden Globe Award in 2014 for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey decided to slow things down a bit and return to his Texan roots.
Though it may be hard to believe, McConaughey once walked the same streets of Austin that many Texans have, and he earned a film degree from UT Austin in 1993. After appearing in many fan favorites, including “Dazed and Confused,” “A Time to Kill,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” and “Failure to Launch,” McConaughey joined the faculty in the Department of Radio-Television-Film after serving as a visiting instructor since 2015, when he started co-teaching the Script to Screen production class alongside director Scott Rice. He began writing the course’s curriculum, offering a behind-the-scenes view of each production to explore every stage of a film’s production, from screenwriting to postproduction.
McConaughey told UT News, “It’s the class I wish I would have had when I was in film school. Working in the classroom with these students gives me a chance to prepare them, making movies, turning words on paper into film, is both a science and art – no matter the time or generation. The elements of truth and genuine joy for the process are timeless. That will always be our classroom focus.”
Besides his professional pedigree, McConaughey continues to make a name for himself on the UT Austin campus through his personal investment in students, his desire to work outside of the classroom and serving as an overall mentor. The chair of Department of Radio-Television-Film, Noah Isenberg said, “He has a passion for teaching and for all things cinematic, that is palpable, even infectious.” Isenberg adds that McConaughey new role represents “a mutually beneficial relationship and recognizes the contribution he has made to the university. This formalizes our relationship. His passion for film is boundless.”
McConaughey’s first Script to Screen class started on Sept. 3, and he says it will take students on a chronological journey of how scripts gets to the screen. For the fall 2019 term, the class of 40 lucky students will be studying “The Gentlemen” and “Mud,” looking at the process of development and production. Jeff Nichols, the director of “Mud,” is scheduled to visit the class.
This advanced course is only available to upper division students who have completed specific prerequisites, and no non-majors will be admitted to this course. According to McConaughey, the class is a huge draw, and he told CBS DFW, “A few people catch me in parking lots around town, going ‘I’m on the waiting list to get in the class, man. Can you get me to the front?’”
McConaughey, through doing something he loves, has brought down the barriers between actors and their fans. Students at UT Austin, and at other campuses across the country, aspire to be one of his students. McConaughey is not just an award-winning actor, or just a professor, he is “the cultural ambassador of Austin,” Isenberg said.
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