Matthew McConaughey‘s remarkable ride over the last two years arguably started at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where he had two films — Mud and The Paperboy in competition — and another, Magic Mike, about to be released. Now after a Best Actor Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club a couple of months ago, he blew back into Cannes today to tout his first movie post-Oscar: Sea Of Trees to shoot this summer under the direction of Gus Van Sant, who joined McConaughey for a discussion for buyers from around the world moderated by Alex Walton. Walton is the former Exclusive Media head of International Sales and Distribution who is launching his new company Bloom (with partner and Sea Of Trees producer Ken Kao) here in Cannes this week. Both McConaughey and Van Sant said the project originally came to them through its other producer Gil Netter, no stranger to hard-to-describe projects like Life Of Pi and The Blind Side, both netting him Best Picture Oscar nominations.
Actually for McConaughey this is a project he had lined up for a while and told me about when I sat with him at last February’s Oscar Nominees lunch. He was as excited about it then as he seemed today, although he said it’s not easy to describe. “It’s not the easiest one to explain,” he told me after the presentation, “but we hope it will be top notch.” McConaughey said the script by Chris Sparling was the best he had read in five years. “It’s high-quality. It gave me the chills in parts,” he told buyers. It deals with a suicidal man’s visit to a dense forest at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, a place where people go to contemplate life and death. There he sets out to help save a Japanese man (likely played by Ken Watanabe) and changes his own life in the process. Although it sounds like pretty heady material, McConaughey was careful to use the word “action” a few times in discussing the elements in the movie. This is, after all, a group of international buyers in Cannes, and it’s tough to sell metaphysics. Walton, who told me they have held back all territories until Cannes, doesn’t even like to use the word “sell” when talking about the business aspects of pushing his new company’s first project. “We’re here today to share it rather than sell it,” he laughed. In addition to the hopeful Watanabe casting, Walton said they are also looking at Naomi Watts for the role of McConaughey’s wife. (more…)