Matthew McConaughey is a friend until the end.
Although his pal of more than a decade, seven-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong, has fallen from grace as one of the world's most beloved athletes since admitting in January that he doped in order to boost his performance, the "Magic Mike" star has no plans to turn his back, too.
"He told a lie, he's not a liar," McConaughey explains in the April issue of Details. "When it came out, I took it personally, but then I realized it ain't personal to him. I was going, 'That son of a bitch!' but then I thought, 'Well, what was he supposed to do? Call me to the side and go, 'Hey, I did this'? But I'm happy for him now, because despite all this outside conflict, he doesn't have this inner conflict anymore."
Although the two were once the closest of friends – and were often seen riding bikes together all over from Austin to Malibu to Miami – now that McConaughey is a married father of three, the bromance has taken a backseat.
"I do have less time for friends now," he admits. "My close friends have had to come to understand that I can't just throw on a backpack and say, 'We'll be back in four days.'"
Nowadays, his priority is, of course, his family: wife Camila Alves and their children Levi, 4, Vida, 3, and 3-month-old Livingston. His new bride, whom he wed last June at their home in Texas, "challenges me," he tells the mag. "There were two movies I wanted to do last year, but they were back-to-back with no separation. She was like, 'You want to do it – buck up, grab your nuts, and make it happen. We’ll be there with you.' … Papa goes to work, the circus goes with him," McConaughey adds jokingly.
And the circus, so to speak, has elevated him not only as a person and a father, but also as an actor. McConaughey explains that the evolution in his personal life made him want to grow in his craft.
"You start a family and you get selfish," he says. "I remember feeling not sure about what I wanted to do and feeling—I'm not sure despondent is the right word, but a feeling like things are plateauing. I wanted more evolution. I want to feel ascension in the grade. Because I was feeling a lot of ascension in my personal life, qualitative evolution. I wanted to close the gap between who I am and the life I’m living and my work life."
McConaughey has done just that with his two newest roles: a fugitive in next month's "Mud" and an HIV-positive man in "The Dallas Buyer's Club," the movie for which the actor lost an astounding 38 pounds. Both flicks are a far cry from the guy who once had his name at the top of the marquee in rom-coms like "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" and "The Wedding Planner."
Why did he make the switch to edgier projects? "I enjoyed what I was doing, but I felt like I did it last time and I can do it again tomorrow," says McConaughey, who slept in a tent alone on an island in Mississippi to prepare for "Mud," which also stars Reese Witherspoon. "I just wanted to shake in my boots a little bit. I want to go deal with some real consequence in films. I remember writing this down: 'I want to be able to hang my hat on the humanity of the character every day.'"
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