1996 saw McConaughey land his first lead role, as the crusading lawyer in A Time to Kill. But he proved earlier that year that he was leading-man material with his charismatic performance in John Sayles’ indie epic. In this saga of a Texas border town, McConaughey has a small but key supporting role as Buddy Deeds, a legendary sheriff who cleaned up the town in the 1950s.
Decades later, in the present day, his son Sam (Chris Cooper) is a lawman, too, one having a hard time living up to his father’s legacy. McConaughey has only a few short scenes to convey how stalwart Buddy was and what a long shadow he cast, while leaving open the possibility that he wasn’t entirely saintly and might have had a skeleton or two in his closet.
Next The Wedding Planner