McConaughey goes all out to play 'all-out evil'
McConaughey studied a Nazi and fasted to play the villain in The Dark Tower
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
With these words, which make up the first line of his 1978 novella The Gunslinger, US author Stephen King sparked an entire universe spanning eight books, now made into the fantasy movie The Dark Tower.
Currently showing here, it has Matthew McConaughey playing Walter o'Dim, also known as the Man in Black, a psychotic sorcerer bent on plunging the universe into chaos by destroying the Dark Tower that holds it together and bringing about the age of the Crimson King.
His adversary is Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the Gunslinger and protector of the Tower.
Walter's villainy is made more terrifying because of his seeming playfulness and charm, something that appealed to 47-year-old McConaughey, as he said during our interview at the Whitby Hotel in New York.
It is the first "all-out evil" character the Oscar-winning US actor has portrayed in his 24-year career.
He said: "Walter is the quintessential bad guy in the mythic battle of good versus evil. He enjoys the game, and he does not want it to end too soon, even if he wins."
Did you base Walter on any movie villains?
I looked at Malcolm McDowell in (1971 dystopian classic) A Clockwork Orange, and Hitler's second-in-command (Joseph Goebbels) was a minister of enlightenment.
That was a real good philosophical jumping point, that people who are really evil do not think they are evil and think they are enlightening people, and that is what is so evil about them.
When you are going to go play that baddie or the devil incarnate, there is heaps of material, and all you have to do is open your eyes and look around.
And then what Stephen had on the page kind of really gave me my compass early on.
People who are really evil do not think they are evil and think they are enlightening people, and that is what is so evil about them.
Can you identify with him?
I think we have all got the light and the dark in us. Everybody has that capability, and sometimes civilisation and mankind do not give enough credit to the evil they possess.
It just comes down to the choices you make. We have got a good wolf and a bad wolf. Which wolf do you want to feed?
Why did you fast before taking this movie on?
I was coming down from (2016 crime drama) Gold, and I was at 98kg, and I had to come down somewhere, so I kick-started that with a fast.
How do you pick your roles?
I have not been choosing roles for my image. I do not think I am that objective, like 'Oh, what would this make me look like?' That is not a question that I am asking.
I am trying to come at everything from a subjective point of view, about which role turns me on, which role would I have the most fun playing and which role do I think I might be able to give more originality to.
I do not judge it, and I do not look at it and go, 'Well, how is that going to be received?' I do not engage in that with my choices.
You are directing as well?
I have been the creative director for the campaign for (premium US bourbon brand) Wild Turkey, so I am doing the commercials now.
And I have two original stories that are in script form that I am working on, that will most likely be what I would direct in the future.
Right now, I am waiting to do something that is a very personal story. I will have a personal point of view on that I can own.
You married Brazilian model Camila Alves in 2012. What have you learnt?
That we still respect that covenant. We have three children now and it does take work, but it does not have to be hard.
You have careers and you have children that absolutely need you, and sometimes it is easy to go, 'Well, my spouse does not really need me right now but the kids do.'
You have to work to make time for each other without the kids. You grow together and root for each other.
That is where a relationship is also a friendship, because a lot of times it is easier to do it with a friend. I think I never would have got together with or married someone I was not great friends with.