Matthew McConaughey Wanted to Play Hulk

Edward Norton played The Incredible Hulk when the big guy was first introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But after some creative clashing with Marvel Studios, by the time The Avengers came around, Mark Ruffalo was brought in to replace him. But if Matthew McConaughey had his way, he’s be the one smashing bad guys alongside the rest of Marvel’s superhero team.

In honor of the release of his new book Greenlights, actor Matthew McConaughey sat down for a chat on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast. Their conversation turned to The Incredible Hulk since both the host and McConaughey were big fans of the original TV show starring Lou Ferrigno as the Marvel Comics character. Horowitz asked McConaughey if he ever wanted to play Bruce Banner in a quick back and forth exchange:

Horowitz: You never got your chance to play Bruce Banner, or David Banner in the show, did you?

McConaughey: No, I didn’t.

Horowitz: Jerks.

McConaughey: Wanted it.

Horowitz: Really?

McConaughey: Yep

Horowitz: Did you throw your hat in the ring? Did you say, “I’m game if you guys are?”

McConaughey: Yep

Horowitz: No kidding?

McConaughey: They said, “No, thank you.”

Horowitz: Can’t get’em all, I guess.

That conversation might feel stilted, but the entire interview is a very friendly and engaging conversation. But you get the sense that maybe this wasn’t something that McConaughey wanted to dive much more deeply into, likely because it’s something that maybe still stings a little. After all, this was a childhood favorite character of his, and it sounds like he didn’t even get a shot to audition or anything like that.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Hulk besides Mark Ruffalo, especially since the actor’s persona as Bruce Banner was been weaved into the big guy in Avengers: Endgame. McConaughey just doesn’t seem like he would feel right as the character at this point. He never really shakes that Southern drawl he still has in his voice, and that feels like it doesn’t work for Bruce Banner. Every actor just has a certain presence that makes it hard to picture them in certain roles, and this is clearly one of those cases.

What’s not clear is when he attempted to land the role of Bruce Banner. Could it have been for the 2003 version directed by Ang Lee before the Marvel Cinematic Universe even existed? Could he have lost out on the part to Edward Norton? Did he want to step up as the replacement for The Avengers? It’s not clear, but even if it doesn’t seem like a good role for him, one can’t help but wonder what Hulk might have been like if he was played by Matthew McConaughey.

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