Get ready for heart rates to rise: Matthew McConaughey is set to star in a movie adaption of Christopher McDougall’s 2009 nonfiction bestseller, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Matthew Michael Carnahan, who wrote the screenplay for “World War Z” and who has signed on to forthcoming adaptations of books by Jo Nesbo and James Ellroy, will be writing the “Born to Run” script.
The book – which has sold over three million copies around the world and helped fuel a minimalist shoe boom – follows McDougall on his journey to Mexico in search of the Tarahumara, an Indian tribe of endurance runners. For centuries now, without break or injury, members of the tribe have been known to swiftly negotiate the Copper Canyons for hundreds of miles. A runner himself, McDougall is intrigued by their ability; he stays with the tribe, studies their techniques, adopts their philosophies, and, along the way, meets an outlandish cast of characters. With much thanks due to the now legendary runner known as Caballo Blanco, who passed away in 2012, the book reaches its spiritual climax: a race where American ultra-runners and the Tarahumara compete together.
“Born to Run” is the latest in McConaughey’s ever-evolving career, which began in the early 1990s and was defined by smallish parts in movies like “Dazed and Confused” and “Glory Daze.” McConaughey’s arrival was marked with his breakout role as a scrupulous lawyer in a racist Mississippi in 1996’s “A Time to Kill.” By the mid-2000s, though, thanks to “The Wedding Planner,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” and “Failure to Launch,” he was better known as a Romcom Heartthrob, an image reinforced in 2005 when he was named Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine.
In 2015, a choice like this for McConaughey is no longer surprising. To see him play a dead man walking (“Dallas Buyers Club”) or listen to him stew in nihilism (“True Detective”) is proof of his ability to tackle the spiritual and philosophical heft that comes with McDougall’s vision of running. McConaughey has reinvented himself as Critically Acclaimed Actor. In 2012 he took the title role in “Mud,” turning out a performance the Village Voice called “the latest in McConaughey’s campaign for reconsideration as a great American actor.” This was followed by “Dallas Buyers Club,” where a shockingly gaunt McConaughey played Ron Woodroof, a cowboy dying of AIDs. The role earned him an Oscar for Best Actor in 2013. His performance alongside Woody Harrelson in the 2014 HBOs miniseries “True Detective” was universally praised.
Acting aside, McConaughey is a religious runner, said to run “an hour per day, regardless of where he is or what film he’s shooting.” Men’s Health, for which Chris McDougall once wrote, ran a story on McConaughey and his philosophies about running. At the time, those runs were happening on the trails around Real de Catorce in Mexico.
A beloved book coupled with a wildly talented and beloved actor will have us all eagerly awaiting more news on the project.