Matthew McConaughey Character Names, Ranked by How McConaughey They Are

matthew mcconaughey baker dill serenity
Graham Bartholomew/Aviron Pictures
Graham Bartholomew/Aviron Pictures

2019 was a big year for Matthew McConaughey. The beach stoner-poet movie The Beach Bum revealed many things about our bongo-beating prophet named Moondog, including that he's an enabler for parrots to do coke and cats to drink PBR. And in the truly batshit Serenity, the actor plays a reclusive boat captain with a mysterious past that somehow involves a blond Anne Hathaway. His character's name? Baker Dill.

Moondog sounds like it belongs in a CBD store and Baker Dill is almost like aTop Chef challenge come to life, but this is nothing new for McConaughey, whose IMDb page is so laden with strange names that there's a legitimately difficult quiz over at The Guardian for you to determine which loony name is real. Whether or not these parts were written with the Oscar-winning actor in mind, "McConaughey names" have defining characteristics. They're semi-nonsensical, but have a distinct earthiness to them. They speak for themselves and say nothing at all. They often sound like they belong in a limerick or perhaps a work by Mark Twain.

So, in honor of the emergence of Baker Dill and Moondog, we've decided to rank the best of the best McConaughey names by how odd they are and how much the embody the actor who speaks in aphorisms and spouts catchphrases like "alright, alright, alright." We've left out the boring ones (obviously) and skipped his roles based on real people (such as Ron Woodroof, his Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club role).

ghosts of girlfriends past
New Line Cinema

29. Connor Mead, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
Connor is too blah to be truly McConaughey. Hence, last place.  

28. Kenny Wells, Gold (2016)
Kenny Wells is basically a normal name, but with an air of familiarity you'd expect from McConaughey. He'd never be a Ken or a Kenneth. 

27. Steve "Eddie" Edison, The Wedding Planner (2001)
Alliteration feels quintessentially McConaughey, except for the fact that "Eddie" Edison feels like something of a cop out. 

26. Ben Barry, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Alliteration. See above. 

the lincoln lawyer

25. Mickey Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
We're getting folksier here. A good sign.

24. Mickey Pearson, The Gentlemen (2020)
Another Mickey! Same vibes.

23. Ward Jansen, The Paperboy (2012)
Again, we're in similar territory here. Straightforward -- see that one syllable first name, two syllable last name -- but with a twist. You don't meet Ward Jansens every day. (Zac Efron also doesn't get peed on by Nicole Kidman every day but that's neither here nor there.)

22. Jake Brigance, A Time To Kill (1996)
Straightforward and melodic. This is a John Grisham character, yes, but also feels timeless. Is McConaughey a real person or is he a being from our collective consciousness?

21. El Rojo, Scorpion Spring (1995)
This is incredibly silly, and yet, can't you imagine McConaughey's twang pronouncing "rojo" incorrectly? 

20. Denton Van Zan, Reign of Fire (2002)
A true McConaughey name should feel like warm sand on your toes and smell like freshly chopped wood. But Denton Van Zan is the rejected pseudonym of a wannabe heavy metal superstar. It's still weird enough to work for McConaughey.

killer joe
LD Entertainment

19. Joe Cooper, Killer Joe (2011)
The movie is literally called Killer Joe, which would maybe be a better McConaughey name, but Joe Cooper has that ephemeral quality, like he walked out of Twin Peaks' red room.

18. Cooper, Interstellar (2014)
So, technically this character is also a "Joe Cooper" but everyone just calls him "Cooper" and that makes it even more McConaughey. Please, he doesn't need first names.

17. Finn, Fool's Gold (2008)
Case in point: Finn! An obnoxious name -- it's short for Finnegan -- for one of his most obnoxious movies!

16. Tripp, Failure to Launch (2006)
But Finn isn't as obnoxious as Tripp, a fitting nickname for an overgrown frat boy who can't be bothered with formalities.


15. Buster Moon, Sing (2016)
Sometimes the line between parody and genuine evocation of the McConaughey spirit is blurred. Take Buster Moon, for instance: He's the animated koala McConaughey voices in Sing. It's perfectly McConaughey -- homey with a celestial glint in its eye -- but also is a fitting name for a cartoon character.

14. Tip Tucker, Larger Than Life (1996)
He's Tip Tucker... and he's a trucker. Need I say more? 

13. Rick Peck, Tropic Thunder (2008)
The embodiment of douchebaggery.

12. Rad Thibodeaux, King of the Hill (1999)
"Thibodeaux" is pronounced "Thibo-day-ox" -- all the better with that whistle in McConaughey's intonation. Intentionally ludicrous, it plays on the star's smarmy Southern charm and love of elocution.


11. Ed Pekurny, EdTV (1999)
If anyone else had played Ed Pekurny, it would be the dorkiest name ever. Not for McConaughey.

10. Fenton Meiks, Frailty (2001)
A name that barely makes sense.

9. Palmer Joss, Contact (1997)
Once again, close to nonsensical.

8. Buddy Deeds, Lone Star (1996)
This name wants you to crack open a beer and pull up a chair.

7. Baker Dill, Serenity (2019)
In Serenity, Baker Dill is apparently obsessed with catching a tuna. Of course a Baker Dill would have a Moby Dick complex.


6. Dirk Pitt, Sahara (2006)
This name feels like a piece of corn that gets caught in your teeth.

5. Dallas, Magic Mike (2012)
Texas incarnate, just like McConaughey.

4. Mud, Mud (2012)
It's literally "mud," like the primordial soil from which McConaughey emerged.

3. Moondog, The Beach Bum (2019)
Based on this Jimmy Kimmel appearance, it seems like co-star Snoop Dogg only called McConaughey as "Moondog" while they were on set. The character and person are already becoming one.

2. Wooderson, Dazed and Confused (1993)
Wooderson, the Dazed and Confused philosopher, is McConaughey's defining role. He even adopted the more poetic elements of the eternal high schooler's persona, making "just keep living" his personal motto. It's also at this point that the list starts to look like a collection of random words shouted by stoned people at an improv show when a performer asks for suggestions.

true detective
Lacey Terrell/HBO

1. Rust Cohle, True Detective (2014)
Rust Cohle -- the loquatious, beer-can-desecrating, chain-smoking hero of True Detective -- is maybe the ultimate McConaughey performance and the ultimate McConaughey name. "Rust Cohle" is something you'd find in an abandoned shed that you probably shouldn't pick up but do anyway. It's a folk tale told in two words.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.