Sea Of Trees
Credit: Jake Giles Netter

In The Sea of Trees Matthew McConaughey plays Arthur, a man who has lost his way in life and treks into the thick forest at the foot of Mount Fuji looking for existential answers. Sounds right up the philosophical alley of Rust Cohle in True Detective. “They are very different projects and characters yet they are both poetic,” McConaughey tells EW. “I say another title for this film is ‘You’ve got to go through annihilation to get to salvation’. It’s one hell of a survival story.”

Gus Van Sant is directing—currently shooting in rural Massachusetts and then Japan—and it costars Ken Watanabe (above, standing) and Naomi Watts. McConaughey says Gus Van Sant is the right man for the material. “Gus is a wonderful voyeur and a really gentle soul of a man. He’s got the right sensibility for a film like this. He listens and considers any ideas that I throw at him and I undeniably trust the direction he gives me,” he says. “He’s a lot of fun to create with.”

McConaughey also has a prediction for how audiences will react after seeing The Sea of Trees. “Everyone is going to leave the theater and have their own walk and talk through the parking lot to muse about its meanings, what it was about and what it wasn’t, what was real and what was a dream.”