Performer of the Week: Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey True Detective Performer of the WeekA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Matthew McConaughey

THE SHOW | True Detective

THE EPISODE | “Pilot”

THE AIRDATE | Jan. 12, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | Exactly who the hell is Det. Rust Cohle? Is he the tightly wound, big-ideas-pondering, possibly alcoholic young detective we meet via flashbacks in True Detective‘s first hour? Is he the unkempt, disrespectful, burned out man we see giving videotaped testimony in 2012?

The answer, of course, is that Rust is both of those men – and the reason we buy it, the reason we want to find out what happened to him in the gulf between 1995 and 2012 – lies in Matthew McConaughey’s curious, introspective portrayal of the Louisiana lawman.

RELATED | HBO’s The Newsroom Renewed for Third and Final Season

All vestiges of the actor’s other well-known roles disappeared Sunday as McConaughey channeled the disturbed, despondent “Taxman.” His Rust in 1995 is a man who doesn’t fit in anywhere – not with his partner or fellow officers, not as a polite dinner guest – and the result is captivating.

McConaughey’s 2012 version of the same character keeps his shrewd nature – he’s very aware that his expertise is sorely needed — but adds layers of undisclosed trauma and a sense of “screw you” to the portrayal. What, exactly, is Rust’s deal? And what happened to him in those 17 years? We don’t know, but McConaughey’s immense talent means we’re all in until the HBO drama’s creepy, bitter end.

Emily Deschanel BonesHONORABLE MENTION | Wow. Hours later there is still much dust in the air as we reflect on this week’s Bones, in which Emily Deschanel‘s Brennan discovered — and then had to relay the devastating news — that squintern Wendell Bray had Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer that offers as low as a 10 percent survival rate. Over the course of several scenes (including Brennan confiding her grim discovery to Booth, the two of them informing Wendell and a warm moment between the three at the house), Deschanel displayed an atypically emotional Brennan, to the point that the brilliant doc was barely able to disclose the diagnosis to her colleague. Perhaps the most heartbreaking note in her performance: Later in the lab, an informed Wendell laments, “We were becoming a good team, weren’t we?” To which Brennen corrected, after a beat, “We are…. We are a good team, Mr. Bray.”

HONORABLE MENTION | Hot off his surprise Golden Globes win as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Andy Samberg justified the Hollywood Foreign Press’s vote of confidence with a hilarious, surprisingly tender turn on Tuesday’s episode. In “The Bet,” Samberg’s Det. Jake Peralta edged rival Det. Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) in a wager over who could close more felony cases in 2013, then set off — clad in tuxedo jacket and cargo shorts (gah!) — to take her on the “worst date ever.” A detour to a rooftop stakeout, however, led to some undeniable sparks, and Samberg managed to perfectly capture his character’s romantic awakening — while still racking up his usual number of gut laughs.

Which performances rocked your TV set this week? Let us know in the comments!

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34 Comments
  1. Margo says:

    “Bones” … Michael Grant Terry & David Boreanaz get my vote for “Performers of the Week” … yep honorable mention to Emily Deschanel

    • Cate says:

      Guess I have to agree with you, her performance was fine, but was disappointed that Brennan, a scientist, would not encourage Wendell to have treatment, doesn’t seem like her, she’s got an opinion about anything and everything. David Boreanaz and Michael Grant Terry were more than excellent. A fine ep.

    • Daisy says:

      Its so sad what happen to Wendell. I like Wendell he’s my favorite squint. I hope that noting bad happens to him.

  2. Susan Krisha says:

    RE: Bones….survival rate as low as 10%.

  3. nikki says:

    Gotta agree with “True Detective”.

  4. Anon says:

    David Boreanaz and Michael Grant Terry were the star performers of this ep… Booth’s pep talk to Wenddl was the best scene of the ep. So what Emily shed a tear big freaking whoop…Actually David should get props for amazing acting and directing. Fail TVLine.

    • Rita says:

      I have to disagree. Both were exceptional but no need to disregard Emily’s acting. I’ve always been a big fan of David’s directing. It’s phenomenal, he knows exactly what he’s doing. Some of the shots are breathtaking. But Emily really needs to get some recognition, at this point it’s becoming ridiculous that she still doesn’t have an award for her work on Bones. Same goes for David. They both deserve it.

      • Ali says:

        I don’t think anyone is disregarding Emily’s acting, but she is part of an ensemble and ALL three had excellent performances and David did double duty as actor AND director.

        • Rita says:

          He always brings his A-game, I never said otherwise. He directed the 100th episode and he made me cry like I’ve never cried before. He directed the s7 finale and yep, also cried. That’s why I said they both deserve it. It just makes me mad to see that other actors get recognition for shows because they’re popular and yet, their acting is… average, at best.

      • Missy says:

        I agree that every new actor and their dog get nominated, especially if they are English or Australian, yet actors like David and Emily who have given quality performances over a NINE YEAR period are constantly snubbed by all — GG, SAG etc. Frankly, that situation is quite annoying and demeans the actors actually nominated and even the awards themselves. The fans truly appreciate David’s and Emily’s consistent performances with or without awards to show for it.
        I love Emily Deschanel, both as a great actress and as the fabulous human being she appears to be, as well as David Boreanaz, for his acting ability, energy and directorial capacity.

      • Linda says:

        I agree totally that Emily is very overlooked for her talents. The analytical nature of her character and almost deadpan scientific deliveries she has carried through into this ninth season, have slowly given way to a more rounded, compassionate individual, and she has portrayed that transformation in such a way that we now can see all the layers of Brennan, and perhaps appreciate how her relationship with Booth has formed the person we now see. Brava for an outstanding episode to Emily and especially to David and Michael for their roles and David’s sensitive direction.

  5. Kevin says:

    Emily blew me away. It was so great to see how effortlessly she brought it to the surface. Like discovering her all new again. Michael Grant Terry was splendid too. I hope they keep they storyline featured prominently.

  6. DarkDefender says:

    I’m not a huge Bones fan (I do watch – I just enjoy Castle way more), but those scenes with Brennan & Wendell and B&B had me in tears.

  7. Claudia says:

    I think Sean Murray deserves an honorable mention for his performance on this week’s episode of NCIS. He wasn’t on screen as much as I would have liked, but he certainly knocked it out of the park imo.

  8. Flaw says:

    There are 17 years between 1995 and 2012, not 7

  9. dude says:

    I know it’s not a high profile pick but I’d go with Sam Palladio and Chris Carmack on Nashville. That scene killed me.

  10. ryan says:

    Ariel Winter for Modern Family should be mentioned

  11. Jess says:

    I think David has got slighted here. He was amazing as both director and actor…The scenes were he found out about Wendells cancer, the diner scene and his pep talk to Wendell about how he needs to live were phenomenal. And deserved a mention every much as Emily… In fact props to Michael Terry too…Davids directing talent is what drove ALL 3 great performances…Wearing both an actors and directors hat is an amazing challenge. And one David met and then some…My Performer of the Week to David.

  12. leigh says:

    I saw True Detectives and Brooklyn 99. I agree with both being given honors. My hope is that this quote will be the one of the week: “1400 dollars. But its all credit card money so its like 5 dollars over the next 2000 years.” Both shows were great to watch for entirely different reasons.

  13. Sheldon W. says:

    Excellent summation of Matthew McConaughey’s work in the True Detective premiere – except that the premiere is entitled The Long Bright Dark (clearly a title given a fair bit of thought…) – not ‘Pilot.’

  14. Austin says:

    Meh. I could careless about True Detective. I was hoping it was going to be really intriguing like Homeland but I got kinda bored. I hope it quickens its pace.

  15. Kim R says:

    My honorable mention would be Eden Sher. When she stood in front of Axl and brokenly tore apart her beloved stuffed animal to try and make amends so that she could be his sister again, I had to choke back tears myself. I thought it was such a heartfelt performance. :)

  16. Sandy Holl says:

    I thought this episode of Bones demonstrates just how superb Emily, David and Wendel are as actors!!! I don’t usually cry, but was still crying when this was over ! These actors deserve recognition and wish the actors guilds could see it!! They are fantastic actors, this episode was superb and David is a great director as well! Bones is the BEST show on TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. wooster182 says:

    I’m sorry. I thought MM’s performance was laughably bad. He couldn’t hold a candle to Woody Harrelson. WH is just so at ease in front of the camera that you don’t even realize he’s acting. MM seems to be trying too hard. To each their own though.

  18. Carlos Alvarez says:

    Totally agree about Eden Sher. Such a heartfelt performance

  19. gaby6034 says:

    no one dares to say that someone from castle’s cast does a good job. Susan was great this week and Seamus was great the previous week too. no one takes them seriously….. that’s the reason I give up this site.

  20. Holly says:

    It’s nice to see Matthew McConaughey named Performer of the Week. He deserves it. I can’t wait to see tomorrow’s episode of True Detective.

  21. Ruth Ann Walker says:

    I agree with others Emily/Brennan played a fabulous part, very heartwarming and moving. David/Booth and Wendall also were good.

    I to don’t understand why they are continuely overlooked for awards, their show has crime, laughter, sadness (crying) and of course bones, best show on TV.

    I’m hoping for season 10 and more seasons after that.

    Be proud of your hard work,YOUR WHOLE CAST IS THE BEST and you are like a family
    working with each other as we all do with our own families.

    Ruth ann

  22. sybl says:

    My respect for McConaughy has grown by bits every time I see him in something, but this is a great role for him, and I am hooked on the show, largely because his character is so compelling.

  23. I think Jensen Ackles deserved an honorable mention for his performance this week. His character has been run through the wringer all year but this was the episode where the chickens came home to roost and it was heartbreaking. Very subtle and stellar acting really sold the story. The open, dialog-free montage was particularly noteworthy.

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