Matthew McConaughey has paid tribute to the late Joel Schumacher. The actor starred in 1996's A Time to Kill, which was directed by Schumacher, and served as McConaghey's big break in many ways. While he had starred in movies before that, the courtroom drama represented his shot at a leading role. McConaughey says he owes his career to Schumacher.

Following a year-long battler with cancer, Joel Schumacher passed away at the age of 80 recently. In an interview following the filmmaker's passing, Matthew McConaughey discussed how Schumacher put up a fight to get him the leading role in A Time to Kill. Here's what McConaughey had to say.

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"Joel not only took a chance on me, he fought for me. Knowing the studio might never approve a relatively unknown like myself for the lead in 'A Time to Kill,' he set up a secret screen test for me on a Sunday morning in a small unknown studio because as he stated, 'Even if you do great, you may not get the part, so I don't want the industry to ever think you screen tested and did not get the job.'"

While Matthew McConaughey had roles in Dazed and Confused and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, he had never had to carry a big studio movie on his shoulders before. A Time to Kill represented his chance to do just that. The drama ultimately went on to become a huge success, grossing $152 million at the box office and paved the way for McConaughey's career. The actor won an Oscar for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey continued, saying his career wouldn't be what it is without Joel Schumacher.

"I remember on days where I would be having a tough time on the set, he would always remind me with the most simple and sound advice a director could give a young man, 'Hey, you are Jake Brigance. You, Matthew, are the character.' I don't see how my career could have gone to the wonderful places it has if it wasn't for Joel Schumacher believing in me back then."

A Time to Kill centers on Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), a black man who avenges the brutal rape of his daughter by shooting the men responsible for the crime who were on their way to stand trial. Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey), an untested lawyer, is tasked with defending him. Brigance struggles to believe that Hailey can be acquitted in this small, Southern town. As the case moves forward, the town is thrown into a state of unrest with Brigance's life and family put squarely in the path of violence.

Joel Schumacher is known best for directing 80s classics such as St. Elmo's Fire and The Lost Boys. Schumacher also directed two Batman movies, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Some of his other notable credits include Tigerland, Flatliners, Falling Down and Phone Booth. This news comes to us via Variety.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott