Matthew McConaughey has recounted the audition that landed him the lead villain role in the 1994 horror movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. While Next Generation remains a black sheep in the slasher movie franchise and was met with an overwhelmingly negative reception, the film was a milestone for soon-to-be Hollywood superstars McConaughey and co-star Renée Zellweger. The Next Generation was McConaughey’s second high-profile film after 1993’s Dazed and Confused, and served as Zellweger’s first major role.
The Next Generation centers on a group of Texas teenagers who run into Leatherface, the notorious chainsaw-wielding murderer from the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, on their prom night. Zellweger plays Jenny, one of the teenage gang, while McConaughey plays Vilmer, a psychotic killer who, along with Leatherface, terrorizes Jenny and her friends. Both Vilmer and Leatherface are discovered to be part of a twisted family of murderers, the Slaughters, working on the instruction of a man named Mr. Rothman (James Gale).
In an interview with THR, McConaughey recalled his bizarre audition for The Next Generation. The actor explained that he originally auditioned for a small, non-speaking role in the film and planned to move to Los Angeles immediately afterwards. After the meeting, however, McConaughey decided he wanted to try his luck at the lead villain and asked the director for an official audition on the spot, but had to improvise through it. He told THR:
“I go to the production office of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I’m talking to the director Kim Henkel. And he says, ‘Matthew, do you have anybody in mind who could play the lead killer/villain?’ … And I thought, I should try for that role! So I went back down the sidewalk, went in … I said I wanna try out for the role of Vilmer. And they said, ‘Okay, great idea, but there’s no actresses here.’ And the girl who was the secretary said, ‘I’ll do it!’ … And right then, I ran to the kitchen that was in this house where the office was, grabbed a big tablespoon out of the drawer, came back in and just pinned her in a corner and acted like it was a weapon, and did it until she, like, cried … And then Kim was like, ‘That was good,’ and then the girl was like, ‘Yeah that was really good, you really scared me!”
McConaughey was immediately offered the role of Vilmer, but had already packed up his U-haul truck full of his belongings for his planned relocation to LA. Still, the actor decided to take the role, unpack, and sleep on a friend’s couch for the next month to make it work. The decision certainly paid off for McConaughey, who within the next few years would go on to land major parts in hits like A Time to Kill and Boys on the Side before becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
McConaughey is well-known for his dedication to the craft of acting, giving every role his complete focus. While Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is not remembered as one of McConaughey’s most iconic parts (now that he has given so many memorable performances in films like Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club and Interstellar), the horror film was one of the first to showcase McConaughey’s potential. And on hearing about his level of commitment in an audition, it’s no wonder why the actor is the Hollywood heavy-hitter he is today.