By Samantha Simon
Updated: Jan 25, 2019 @ 6:02 pm
Paul Bruinooge/PMC

Matthew McConaughey just might be the most laid back man in Hollywood.

Sure, he might be one of the best dramatic actors of our time — the Academy Award-winner draws audiences into fictional worlds like no other in projects like Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective. But still, we can’t help but picture the 49-year-old star right back on a beach somewhere once the credits roll — cold drink in hand, bongos nearby, living his chillest life.

In his latest film, Serenity, that’s exactly where we find McConaughey (sans bongos, but still). He stars as Baker Dill, a fishing boat captain who spends his time drinking rum, getting laid, and hunting a giant prize tuna on the coast of Plymouth Island. But all that changes when his ex, Karen (played by Anne Hathaway) appears, offering Baker $10 million — all he has to do is throw her violent and wealthy husband to the sharks. The proposition prompts the broken-spirited, but still morally sound, war veteran to question everything about life as he knows it. And without giving too much away, let’s just say there’s a lot he should be questioning.

Aviron Pictures

Unlike his character, McConaughey knows exactly who he is — but as it turns out, his fans might not. The biggest misconception about the actor? According to Hathaway, it’s a big one. “He does not say, ‘Alright, alright, alright,’ all the time,” she told InStyle at a screening of the film on Wednesday, hosted by Aviron Pictures and The Cinema Society and followed by an after-party at Magic Hour Rooftop in New York City. She's referring to a well-known line in one of McConaughey's earlier roles in Dazed and Confused. “He barely ever says it!”

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Having starred together in 2014’s Interstellar, Hathaway is no stranger to working with McConaughey, who’s famously dedicated to transforming into the characters he plays. The actor unforgettably dropped 38 pounds to portray an AIDS patient in Dallas Buyer's Club — a move that ultimately landed him a Best Actor Oscar. According to Hathaway, though, McConaughey's commitment to his roles goes well beyond pushing himself to the limits physically. In fact, it just might veer into the territory of full-on method acting.

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When the pair teamed up this time around, “Nothing was different, really, except he was playing a very different character,” explained Hathaway. “The person I thought I knew on Interstellar was not necessarily Matthew, it was [his character] Cooper. And Cooper was trying to win over [my character] Dr. Brand. On this film, in between takes he was Baker Dill — and Baker Dill was mad at me! So I received a very different level of energy. But on the weekends, he was the same guy — and that’s a wonderful guy.”

Paul Bruinooge/PMC

Baker Dill may not have much love for Hathaway’s character in Serenity, but he sure does seem to like the other woman in his life: the lonely and accommodating Constance, played by Diane Lane. During their first day on set, McConaughey revealed that the actress was his first-ever celebrity crush, knowledge that Lane admitted she had to block out to film some of Serenity’s steamier scenes. Though her character, Constance, remains a bit of a mystery throughout the movie, she owns her sexuality and apologizes for nothing — and Lane commends her for that. “She’s figured out a way to enjoy her life and be of service, and she’s willing to pay for what she wants,” Lane told InStyle. "She's not defined by her past; she's very evolved."

Lane’s character — who does, in fact, fork over a handful of cash after one of her romps with Baker Dill — certainly makes the most of her time on the fictional Plymouth Island (filming took place on the real Indian Ocean island of Mauritius). The same could be said for McConaughey's time on set — because as it turns out, apparently he does often seem like an IRL version of the laid-back beach dude we think he is, after all.

When we asked Lane what surprised her most about working with the actor, she didn't hesitate. “He was very comfortable,” the actress said of their time spent together. “I don’t know if he was jet-lagged or what, but on the first day, he was able to just take a nap right there on the bed while the crew was relighting. I was amazed. I was like, ‘This guy is very relaxed!’”

Aviron Pictures

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McConaughey was certainly in his element on the island. “I like the water,” he told reporters at the screening. “I do like to fish, [though] I’m not a fisherman, so to speak.” Explaining that his role as a boat captain just “makes sense,” McConaughey recalled the moment that he truly impressed the island's locals, and it had nothing to do with his star power.

“We caught big fish — a 212-pound tuna,” he said. “Yeah, the island of Mauritius was happy to see McConaughey show up, big guy from America who’s an actor and a movie star. But they were really respecting me when I caught the fish. That’s when they were like, ‘Ahhh, okay.

Serenity is in theaters on Friday, Jan. 25.