You wouldn’t think a star like Matthew McConaughey could stroll down Hollywood Boulevard in broad daylight without being assaulted by fans. But I saw it happen recently when he was at work directing the new video for country maverick Jamey Johnson’s latest single, “Playing the Part,” which premieres Friday in its full-length cut on the VEVO home page.
The song is Johnson’s take on what it’s like for a small-town guy like himself to find himself hanging out in Tinsel Town, paralleling to an extent his rise from musical unknown to award-laden country success over the past two years. In the chorus, Johnson remembers a time:
When the only LA I knew was lower Alabama
Back when me and Hannah were wishing on a southern star
Now it’s so complicated, I really hate it, why'd I ever want to go so far
Taking depression pills in the Hollywood Hills
Acting like I'm playing the part
He contacted McConaughey, who had befriended Johnson at the Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony last year in Las Vegas, and the actor signed on to direct the video. It involves a parade of costumed characters much like those who can be found every day outside the Hollywood and Highland theater and retail complex vying for tourists’ attention—and tips. There's also a guy in a gorilla suit.
So when a scene called for a crowd shot outside the famous Chinese Theater, McConaughey slipped on a lucha libre-type mask and mingled with the passersby relatively unnoticed. An abbreviated version premiered Thursday night on Entertainment Tonight, but McConaughey's director's cut runs about seven minutes, as he didn't want to do anything he felt would shortchange Johnson's song.
Here’s an exclusive look behind the scenes of the video shoot, which also made use of a local bar, where Johnson and his Kent Hardly Playboys group played their parts as a house band playing to a virtually empty bar.