Matthew McConaughey on why he quit romantic comedies, turned down $14.5 million payday

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Matthew McConaughey’s risky decision to walk away from playing the leading man in romantic comedies has paid off greatly.

The 51-year-old actor, who became a Hollywood heartthrob in movies such as “The Wedding Planner,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Fool’s Gold,” is opening up about his effort to leave the genre — and a major payday — behind.

In a new AARP interview, he recalled the moment he made the chose to pursue more serious, dramatic roles.

“I remember saying, F the bucks, I’m going for the experience,’” McConaughey shared. “I was the go-to rom-com guy. I enjoyed making them, and they paid well. I was leading a successful life as an actor. But there’s a certain buoyancy built into rom-coms that isn’t about hanging your hat on humanity, like a drama is... I wanted to do work that reflected my personal vitality.”

“I went on a sabbatical away from Hollywood. I said no to every rom-com script that came my way. I turned down one for $14.5 million,” he continued. “Word got around Hollywood I’d done that, and they said, ‘McConaughey’s not bluffing. Quit sending him romantic comedies!’”

It took a couple of years for the tide to turn, with McConaughey reemerging on the scene in films like 2011′s “The Lincoln Lawyer” and 2013′s “Dallas Buyer’s Club” — the latter of which earned him a best actor honors at the Academy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.

Embracing more serious fare opened the married father of three to revisit and chronicle his life story.

McConaughey’s debut literary offering, “Green Lights,” have sat in the top 10 of the New York Times Best Sellers Hardcover Nonfiction list since it was released last November.

The “True Detective” star, who has been rumored to have political interests, is looking at making another drastic change in his career.

“In my next chapter I’ll step into some sort of leadership position, but I don’t know what that is yet. Politics? Another book? A ministry? The crux of it is to help others,” he shared. “We’re coming out of a time of limbo and evolving, as people and as a nation. We’ve got to come together and have some sort of unity — I think everyone can agree we can use that.”