Despite spending years in the spotlight -- or, more often, the long lens of a camera whose owner is eager to catch him doing some beach side sit-ups -- Matthew McConaughey seems like someone whose Southern mama raised him right. Even when, for instance, this reporter's recorder entered its death throes near the end of our phone interview, McConaughey remained easygoing and cool, humming to himself while I fumbled for extra batteries.
McConaughey's character in 'The Lincoln Lawyer,' Mick Haller, is also pretty cool, but in a far shadier sort of way. As a defense attorney whose office is basically the back seat of his car, Haller works the seedier side of Los Angeles, and his livelihood -- and sometimes his safety -- depends on his ability to smooth-talk and grease the right palms. This is no less true when he finds himself representing a very rich and seemingly clean-cut young man accused of viciously attacking a prostitute. Haller has to use everything at his disposal to find out if his client, played by Ryan Phillippe, is as innocent as he says he is.
Although McConaughey started college with hopes of becoming a criminal defense attorney at the University of Texas, his interests turned towards writing and more creative work by his junior year. "I woke up scared, going, 'Oh my gosh, what about my twenties? What about my twenties? I don't want to just go get educated for my twenties. I want to go get some practical experience with whatever I'm going to do,'" the actor says.
His worries were for naught, as he's now been in well over 35 movies since starting his acting career in the early '90s. Now he admits, "I really like playing an attorney. I like playing an attorney more than I like attorneys."