Between 2011 and 2014 there was an inescapable buzzword doing the Hollywood rounds.
We were in a "McConaissance"
Coined to describe Matthew McConaughey's sudden career gear-change from rom-com hunk to complex leading man, the term went viral in 2011 and maintained its relevance for three years, reports News.com.au.
Until, seemingly overnight, the "McConaissance" was no more.
As quickly as the term became part of media vocabulary it vanished, and with it, McConaughey himself seemed to take a step back from the limelight.
We could be set for a glimpse of that old Hollywood lusture, however, with the actor set to appear in cult grime-crime film director Guy Ritchie's upcoming flick, The Gentlemen, alongside Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell and Henry Golding.
He was also in Australia this week in his capacity as creative director of Wild Turkey.
HOW THE 'MCCONAISSANCE' BEGAN
Matthew McConaughey has long been an icon.
From his unforgettable role as oddball Wooderson in 1993's Dazed and Confused – which saw the birth of his catchphrase; "All right, all right, all right" delivered in the most discernible baritone drawl in Hollywood, to his caricatured mannerisms, few complained when the time came to start taking him seriously as an actor.
In fact, it came much to critics' and film buffs' delight when McConaughey jumped from playing fizzy – though undeniably likeable – rom-com leads to portraying deep and complex characters in sophisticated flicks with aplomb.
Having starred in fun, inoffensive flicks Failure to Launch, Fool's Gold and of course How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, McConaughey's renaissance, as he later explained, was simply a matter of choosing better scripts over big bucks.
"I didn't get a new acting coach or take a new class. I just said, 'F*** the bucks — I'm going for the experience' in the things I was choosing," he told Cigar Aficionado in 2018.
From 2011, his role choices shifted to auteur collaborations, and suddenly McConaughey was earning the best reviews of his career.
He had become the most exciting actor in Hollywood, with The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, Killer Joe and Mud all playing a part.
His dynamic portrayal as a stripper in Magic Mike even garnered Oscar buzz.
But that was just the start. Of course, the best was yet to come.
THE 'SECOND ACT'
The "McConaissance" hit its peak in 2014 when McConaughey's role – and jaw-dropping transformation – in Dallas Buyers Club won him the Oscar for best actor.
At the same time, he was dazzling television on HBO's True Detective, available to stream on Foxtel, a performance which netted him an Emmy nomination later that year.
Then, 2014's success continued with the release of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar in November.
He had struck gold.
It was the win that officiated the McConaissance – not that it came as a surprise to anyone.
Walking away with his first Oscar, having beat out Leonardo DiCaprio for Wolf of Wall Street, Christian Bale for American Hustle, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave and Bruce Dern for Nebraska, McConaughey appeared on the verge of tears as he thanked God, his family and the Academy.
"It's a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates," he said, wrapping up his speech with a shout-out to his famous Dazed and Confused line: "All right, all right all right" and "Just keep livin'."
McConaughey, newly 50, who lost an extreme amount of weight to play AIDS patient Ron Woodruff in the film, had picked up Best Actor trophies everywhere from the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards to the Independent Spirit Awards throughout 2014.
He'd secured himself a Twitter sensation after the Globes – where the buzz for a McConaughey sweep of awards began, and the obsession grew stronger.
THE FILM THAT STOPPED IT IN ITS TRACKS
But since then, the "McConaissance" has stalled. The actor's The Sea of Trees, Free State of Jones, and Gold were all dismissed by critics and audiences, while his blockbuster tentpole The Dark Tower was one of the biggest studio bombs of 2017.
2019's Beach Bum didn't breathe life back into the McConaissance, either.
The turning point, seemed to boil down to Stephan Gaghan's Gold, which saw the star take on yet another drastic transformation, only to be let down by what critics described as a "clumsy" script.
Playing Kenny Wells, a prospector desperate for a lucky break who sets off on an amazing journey to find gold in Indonesia, critics described his performance as what made Gold just watchable.
It seemed McConaughey's knack for picking winning scripts had wavered.
MCCONAUGHEY'S REACTION TO THE BUZZ
On the exit from the three-year whirlwind, McConaughey himself called the term a bit of an exaggeration, on reflection.
"That whole thing was much less of a 180 for myself than people seemed to think," the actor told Cigar Aficionado in 2018.
He revealed that at the time that he ended up shutting down his production company and his music company so he could make acting his top priority again.
"I quit trying to project how something would be received and decided to just be an actor for hire again," he said. "I love being an actor and going as deep as you can in a role, to really commit to the craft. I put my head down and went after roles that scared me."
McConaughey explained that once he started tackling these kinds of projects, it was hard to stop.
The actor said he was re-engerized by the fast-paced energy of indie filmmaking.
"You work faster and move quickly," McConaughey said.
"There's no sitting around while they set up a shot for two or three hours. When I was making Killer Joe with William Friedkin, he did everything in one take. One take! Now there are two ways to take that. You can freeze up and think, 'What am I gonna do?' Or you just relax and use that as freedom, instead of fear."
WHAT'S NEXT FOR MCCONAUGHEY?
Despite having put his projects on hold in favour of acting all those years ago, the actor has seemingly reverted back to spreading his focus in 2019.
Creative director, brand spokesman and "chief storyteller" for Wild Turkey, the star was in Australia this week to launch the brand's "With Thanks" initiative which aims to get more Aussies to connect with the wild.
As for his next role in Ritchie's The Gentleman – on-brand with a glass of whiskey featuring on its poster – fans of the crime film director are already excited for its January release, claiming from the trailer that it looks every bit the Ritchie classic ala 2000s Snatch.
Perhaps the world is ready for a 2020 McConaissance renaissance.