Matthew McConaughey Owes His Career To Joel Schumacher: "He Fought For Me"

Matthew McConaughey says the director took a chance and cast him as the lead in 1996's 'A Time to Kill'.

Matthew McConaughey believes his career wouldn't have hit the heights it has if it wasn't for Joel Schumacher.

The 50-year-old actor has paid tribute to the late director, who passed away at the age of 80 this week following a year-long battle with cancer, and revealed the filmmaker "fought for [him]" to land the lead part in 1996 film A Time to Kill.

He said: "I don't see how my career could have gone to the wonderful places it has if it wasn't for Joel Schumacher believing in me back then.

"Joel not only took a chance on me, he fought for me."

McConaughey was "relatively unknown" when he landed the role of lawyer Jake Brigance in A Time to Kill, which also featured Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey.

And he revealed Schumacher went out of his way to set up a "secret screen test" for him.

McConaughey added to Variety: "Knowing the studio might never approve a relatively unknown like myself for the lead in A Time to Kill he set up a secret screen test for me on a Sunday morning in a small unknown studio because as he stated, 'Even if you do great, you may not get the part, so I don't want the industry to ever think you screen tested and did not get the job.'

"I remember on days where I would be having a tough time on the set, he would always remind me with the most simple and sound advice a director could give a young man, 'Hey, you are Jake Brigance. You, Matthew, are the character.' "

Several other stars have also paid tribute to Schumacher including Minnie Driver, who worked with the director on The Phantom of the Opera.  

Driver tweeted: "#JoelSchumacher was the funniest, chicest, most hilarious director I ever worked with. Once,on set,an actress was complaining about me within earshot; how I was dreadfully over the top (I was)Joel barely looked up from his NYT+said "Oh Honey,no one ever paid to see under the top" (sic)"

Director Edgar Wright wrote: "Joel Schumacher had a hell of a run. Costumes on The Last Of Sheila & Sleeper. Writer of Car Wash & The Wiz. Director of iconic 80's 90's pop hits; St Elmo's Fire, Lost Boys, Flatliners, way too many other smashes to fit here plus the prescient Fallling Down. RIP Sir. Good work! (sic)"

— BANG

Photos: TPG News/Click Photos 

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