Matthew McConaughey Is Reprising A Classic '90s Role In New HBO Series

If you click a link and buy a product or service from a merchant, we may be paid an affiliate commission.

Throughout his decades-long career, Matthew McConaughey has played everything from a wayward stoner and a dragon slayer to a male stripper, a spiritually inclined law man, and a savvy Texan living with AIDS. Along the way, he's also fronted micro-budge indies, blockbuster rom-coms, and earned himself an Academy Award for Best Actor, for his work in Dallas Buyer's Club. Seems the one thing McConaughey has never done in his Tinseltown tenure is play the same character twice.

That's about to change, as Variety is now reporting that McConaughey is attached to a project that will see him reprise a beloved role from the early days of his career. 

Sadly, he will not be returning to play Wooderson in a direct sequel to Richard Linklater's landmark indie Dazed and Confused, nor will he be miraculously on hand for that "Old Man Leatherface" Texas Chainsaw Massacre follow-up that's just been announced. In reality, McConaughey will be re-teaming with his True Detective bosses at HBO to return to the sweaty Southern courtrooms of Mississippi — he's going to play noble-hearted defense attorney Jake Brigance once more.

McConaughey first portrayed the character in 1996's harrowing legal drama A Time to Kill, based on the bestselling novel by John Grisham. The film proved to be McConaughey's breakout role, setting him on the course to legitimate leading man status thereafter. Per Variety, McConaughey is eyeing a return to the role in a new dramatic series adapted from Grisham's 2020 sequel A Time for Mercy, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Constantine) executive producing and Warner Bros. Television backing the project. It's unclear at the moment if they're eyeing A Time for Mercy for HBO proper, or for the streaming platform HBO Max.

A Time to Kill is a '90s classic, and Matthew McConaughey's big-screen breakthrough

As of this writing, little else is known of McConaughey's new HBO project. But what we do know about A Time for Mercy is that it finds Brigance taking another seemingly impossible case: defending a young man who kills his mother's boyfriend, claiming he was abusive to him, his mother, and his younger sister. This plot is in similar dramatic territory as A Time to Kill

Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys) directed 1996's A Time to Kill, which told the tale of grieving father Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), who kills the two white men who raped and nearly murdered his 10-year-old daughter. Once arrested, Hailey hires the virtually unknown Brigance to defend him, with the attorney stepping into the national spotlight for the biggest trial of his career. Brigance must battle a rigged game inside the courtroom while simultaneously facing racist white factions, an upset Black community, and his own moral compass.

Needless to say, A Time to Kill provided McConaughey with no end of dramatic material. The then-up-and-comer more than answered the call, delivering a searing, scene-chewing performance in the film — doing so alongside screen heavies like Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd, Donald Sutherland, Chris Cooper, and Charles S. Dutton. It remains to be seen if any of those actors will return for the new series based on A Time for Mercy, but the source material is set just a few years after the events of A Time to Kill, so it's a distinct possibility. In any case, it should be fascinating to see McConaughey step back into the role that made him famous after so much time away.