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With career in high gear, McConaughey stays true to acting

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

With his Hollywood career in high gear and his new film "Mud" out soon in US theaters, Matthew McConaughey said he feels no pressing need to put acting aside for a turn behind the cameras.

Speaking at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival Sunday, McConaughey -- a native Texan who graduated from college in Austin and now resides here -- said he has a couple of ideas in the back of his head that he'd like to personally direct.

One is a children's tale he thought up before having three children of his own; the other is what he called "a 'Spanking the Monkey' slash black comedy" based on the year he spent as an exchange student in Australia.

"But, to be honest, I really enjoy being An. Actor. For. Hire," the 43-year-old thespian said, emphasizing those four words in his thick Texas drawl.

"I've just shut down my production company, shut down my music company, and I said I've got three things that I want on my desk on the proverbial Monday morning: that's my family, my (charitable) foundation and acting.

"And that has filled my days where I am able to give enough time to each of those, to really nurture all of them... They're the three things that, when the phone rings or that email comes in, I want to look at."

Directed by Jeff Nichols and filmed in rural Arkansas, "Mud" stars McConaughey as the title character, a rough-hewn fugitive who strikes a deal with two boys to help him evade bounty hunters and reunite with his love.

The coming-of-age story, which also stars Reese Witherspoon, screened in competition at the Cannes film festival in 2012 before going on to Sundance this year and, on Sunday, the indie-angled SXSW event.

"There was an innocence (to Nichols' script) and I think it comes across in the film," said McConaughey when film critic Scott Foundas of New York's Village Voice weekly asked what drew him to the project.

"It was Southern in the right way. It had a very defined sense of place and time and space... I'd never heard a voice like this from a character like Mud. I immediately was attracted to the dreamer aspect -- he's such a wonderful dreamer -- and the aristocracy of this guy's heart."

The son a kindergarten teacher -- she was in the front row at Sunday's talk -- and a now-deceased gas station owner, McConaughey recalled how he decided to drop out of law school up the street at the University of Texas to study film.

His father's advice at the time, he said, was simple: "Don't half-ass it."

He also spoke of the making of the male stripper movie "Magic Mike," saying had sent Steven Soderbergh "an eight-page email" discussing the ways he thought he should play his character, an empire-building Florida strip club boss.

The director's one-word reply: "Sure."

With comedies like "The Wedding Planner" and action flicks like "Sahara" under his belt, McConaughey said he has two markedly different projects now in post-production and expected in theaters later this year.

One, "The Wolf of Wall Street," directed by Martin Scorsese, a hero to McConaughey in his film-school days, sheds a spotlight on fraud and organized crime in the New York financial district.

The other, "Dallas Buyers Club," finds the actor in his home state playing a drug-taking womanizing business executive in the 1980s who imports unapproved drugs for HIV-AIDS victims after he learns that he too has the virus.

McConaughey, proclaimed "the sexiest man alive" by People magazine in 2005, lost 40 pounds (nearly 20 kilograms) to get into his gaunt mustachioed character.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130311/career-high-gear-mcconaughey-stays-true-acting