- Associated Press - Friday, April 26, 2013

NEW YORK — Matthew McConaughey, who’s getting praise from critics for his role in the new movie “Mud,” says he’s found a way to make negative reviews a positive learning experience.

McConaughey won best supporting male actor at the Independent Spirit Awards for 2012’s “Magic Mike.” He also received the best supporting actor honor for “Magic Mike” and “Bernie” at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

But there have been some misses for the 43-year-old actor, who cemented his romantic leading man status in 2003’s “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” opposite Kate Hudson. Critics panned “Failure to Launch,” ”Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” and “Fools Gold.”

“A few years ago, I did a really interesting kind of experiment,” McConaughey said.

“My assistants gathered every negative review I’ve ever had and it was a good, thick pile. I sat down and said, ‘We’re gonna read every one of these.’ There was some really good constructive criticism. I’m like, ‘That’s what I would’ve said about that performance. You’re right.’”

He said it’s most rewarding to read a review where he and the critic agree about what he was trying to convey in a performance.

“What’s nice is when you read a review and … it’s almost exactly what I wrote down before I ever did the picture of what I was tryin’, who I thought the guy was. So I go, ‘Ah, it translated.’ The word was never spoken but they got that out of the performance.”

In “Mud,” McConaughey plays a fugitive who befriends two teen boys in Arkansas who help him try to reunite with his long-lost love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), while also hiding out from the authorities.

McConaughey, who married longtime girlfriend Camila Alves last June (the couple have three children), said he was drawn to the way Mud loves Juniper.

“The love he has for this woman is a very simple thing,” he said. “I just hung my hat on (it). Didn’t matter if she loved him back or not. He didn’t love her any less ever. … This man has a passionate love for somebody as passionate as it was the first three hours and that just doesn’t really happen in real life real often. You can say it does, but it’s pretty tough to keep that light burnin’ like that.”

“Mud,” directed by Jeff Nichols, opens in theaters Friday.

Alicia Rancilio covers entertainment for the Associated Press.

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