It may be something of a footnote to True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club now, but The Lincoln Lawyer was an early sign that Matthew McConaughey was back. In 2011, the actor kicked off the hallowed era we now refer to as the McConaissance by starring in an adaptation of author Michael Connolly’s novel of the same name and reinvigorated his career. The movie was well-received and had decent box office grosses, but was particularly noted for the sudden and unexpected depth that McConaughey brought to the role of an unscrupulous attorney who works out the back of a Lincoln Towncar. Now Netflix is banking that the premise can support a streaming adaptation without Matthew McConaughey’s star power. Instead, the role of mobile defense attorney Mickey Haller will be played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.
In 2011, Matthew McConaughey was just coming off a solid decade of films like The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Reign of Fire, and Surfer, Dude. The Lincoln Lawyer was a breath of fresh air and returned him to the role of potential heir to Paul Newman. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is not coming to the role with as lofty expectations (or as poor of a recent track record), so there is lots of opportunities for him to work with. The Mexican actor has previously worked with Netflix, starring in director Michael Bay’s Ryan Reynolds vehicle 6 Underground, and also starred in the Antoine Fuqua remake of The Magnificent Seven. Garcia-Rulfo is also set to star in the upcoming Tom Hanks movie A Man Called Otto, having previously appeared with America’s Dad in the Apple TV+ World War II film Greyhound.
It may be a bit of a risk to reboot a comparatively little-known property without its star, who has since become an Academy Award-winning box office draw. But even without Matthew McConaughey, The Lincoln Lawyer has some things going for it. For one, it was created and executive produced by David E. Kelley, the television megaproducer behind Doogie Howser, M.D., The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Boston Legal, Big Little Lies, and basically the majority of television you have ever seen. It is also co-starring once and maybe future Scream star Neve Campbell, who is always a welcome sight. Both the film version and the Netflix reboot of The Lincoln Lawyer are based on a long-running series of novels (the Matthew McConaughey version was based on the first, the Manuel Garcia-Rulfo will be based on the second, The Brass Verdict), so there is also potentially a built-in audience looking for a hardbitten, morally-conflicted lawyer who is literally always on the go.
Matthew McConaughey has recently ruled out a bid for him to run as Governor of Texas, which is great for a number of reasons, not least of which is a chance for him to do the thing he’s good at: charm us on the big screen. The Netflix version of The Lincoln Lawyer was picked up as a ten-episode season and will premiere on May 13. Hopefully, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is up filling those shoes.