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2 minute read
Belinda Luscombe

Over the doubts of Warner Bros. and in a departure from the usual practice with John Grisham movies, director Joel Schumacher cast an unknown as the lead in A Time to Kill. But even before the first ticket has been sold, Matthew McConaughey has become Hollywood’s newest golden boy and a familiar face to movie fans.

McConaughey was the only actor that Schumacher and Grisham could agree on for the role. Still, Schumacher was worried that the film might founder on the tiny pebble of its star’s anonymity. So he eliminated it. At Christmas he mentioned to his close pal Liz Smith that her fellow Texan was hot stuff. She duly noted it in her column. “I’ve never even met Matthew McConaughey,” Smith admits. “But I trust what Joel tells me.” Schumacher then hosted a screening of the unfinished film for New York City’s media elite. Out of that came a Vanity Fair cover. The director talked the ears off dozens of other journalists, recounting the Cinderella story of a secret screen test that won McConaughey the part.

Schumacher’s timing was perfect. Hungry for a star who didn’t display a grungy ambivalence about fame and adulation, the media couldn’t resist the hunky newcomer, proclaiming him heir to Cruise, Newman and Brando. The campaign was ably abetted by McConaughey, whom the camera adores and who seems happy to project old-style Hollywood magic. Suddenly McConaughey was everywhere. “I’ve sat here for six years and not seen anything like this,” says Interview editor Ingrid Sischy, who put him on her August cover. “This is the arrival of a Hollywood star.”

–By Belinda Luscombe

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