The $15m unbranding

When Matthew McConnaughey decided to stop doing romantic comedies, he told his agent, Jim Toth at CAA, to make sure any romcom scripts did not make it past the desk.

For 6 months, that’s all that came in.

Nothing got past the desk.

Then, another romcom, but with a strong script, and an $8m offer attached.

This makes it past the desk, and into the hands of the actor.

“No, thank you”.

6 months in. A romcom fast.

The offer goes up to $8m.

“No, thank you”.

$10m. $12.5m.

“No, thank you”. “No, thank you”.

And then $15m.

Maybe time for another look. He re-reads it. The script suddenly feel funnier, tighter, more creative.

By this point, the agent was really teetering. That agreement to do no romantic comedies suddenly felt hard to stick to.

And still, “no, thank you”

Message received. Everything stopped.

No scripts.

Nothing at all.

For a full 12 months.

21 months in to the romcom hiatus, the phone starts ringing.

The scripts stack up. 

Killer Joe. Magic Mike. True Detective. Dallas Buyers Club.

The rest is history.


Is the lesson here in saying no? Maybe.

Is the lesson here in rebranding to become a dramatic actor? Perhaps.

What’s more interesting is the disappearing act. Going to ground.

Being gone long enough to become what seems to be a new, good idea.

The lesson is in the unbrand, rather than the rebrand.

And this is the step we usually miss.

Instead of being constant, of making a pivot, what if we took a step back – completely off the court?

It means a different kind of sacrifice and more sunk costs to ignore, but sometimes it’s the only way to go.

Before the rebrand, unbrand.


Matthew McConaughey on The Tim Ferriss Show >

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