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Matthew McConaughey

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Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey 2019 (48648344772).jpg
McConaughey in 2019
Born (1969-11-04) November 4, 1969 (age 52)
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin (BS)
Years active1991–present
Full list
(m. 2012)
AwardsFull list

Matthew David McConaughey (/məˈkɒnəh/; born November 4, 1969) is an American actor. He first gained notice for his supporting performance in the coming-of-age comedy Dazed and Confused (1993), which was considered by many to be his breakout role.[1][2][3] After a number of supporting roles in films including Angels in the Outfield (1994) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994), his breakthrough performance as a leading man came in the legal drama A Time to Kill (1996). He followed this with leading performances in the science fiction film Contact (1997), the historical drama Amistad (1997), the comedy-drama The Newton Boys (1998), the satire EDtv (1999), the war film U-571 (2000), and the psychological thriller Frailty (2001).

In the 2000s, McConaughey became best known for starring in romantic comedies,[4] including The Wedding Planner (2001), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003), Failure to Launch (2006), Fool's Gold (2008), and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009), establishing him as a sex symbol. After a two-year hiatus from film acting, McConaughey began to appear in more dramatic roles beginning with the legal drama The Lincoln Lawyer (2011). He was acclaimed for his supporting performances in Bernie (2011), Magic Mike (2012) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and for his leading roles in Killer Joe (2011) and Mud (2012).[5]

McConaughey's portrayal of Ron Woodroof, a cowboy diagnosed with AIDS, in the biopic Dallas Buyers Club (2013) earned him widespread praise and numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Actor. In 2014, he starred as Rust Cohle in the first season of HBO's crime anthology series True Detective, for which he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. His film roles since have included Interstellar (2014), The Sea of Trees (2015), Free State of Jones (2016), Gold (2016), The Dark Tower (2017), and The Gentlemen (2019), earning varying degrees of commercial and critical success, as well as voice work in Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) and Sing (2016).

Early life

Matthew David McConaughey was born on November 4, 1969, in Uvalde, Texas.[6] His mother, Mary Kathleen "Kay"/"KMac" (née McCabe), is a former kindergarten teacher and published author who taught him.[7] She was originally from Trenton, New Jersey.[8] His father, James Donald "Jim" McConaughey,[9] was born in Mississippi in 1929 and raised in Louisiana,[10] where he ran an oil pipe supply business; he played for the Kentucky Wildcats and the Houston Cougars college football teams.[11] In 1953, Jim was drafted in the 27th round by the NFL's Green Bay Packers. He was released before the season began and never played an official league game in the NFL.[12]

McConaughey's parents married each other three times, having divorced each other twice.[13] He has two older brothers, Michael and Patrick (who was adopted).[14] Michael, nicknamed "Rooster", is a self-made millionaire who starred in the CNBC docu-series West Texas Investors Club[15] and the 2018 A&E reality show Rooster & Butch with Wayne (Butch) Gilliam. McConaughey's ancestry includes English, German, Irish, Scottish, and Swedish, with some of his Irish roots being from the Cavan/Monaghan area.[6] He is a relative of Confederate brigadier general Dandridge McRae.[16] He had a Methodist upbringing.[17]

McConaughey moved to Longview, Texas, in 1980,[8] where he attended Longview High School. He lived in Australia for a year, in Warnervale, New South Wales, as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in 1988.[18][19] He attended the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin), where he joined Delta Tau Delta fraternity.[20] He began in the fall of 1989 and graduated in the spring of 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film.[21] His original plan had changed as he wanted to attend Southern Methodist University until one of his brothers told him that private school tuition would have been a burden on the family's finances. He also had planned to attend law school after graduation from college,[22] but he realized he was not interested in becoming a lawyer.[8]


Early 1990s to 2000: Rise to prominence and breakthrough

In the early 1990s, McConaughey began working in television commercials.[23]

In 1992, he was cast as the boyfriend "Walkaway Joe'', a music video for Trisha Yearwood's collaboration with Don Henley.[24] Also that year, he acted in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.[25]

Bob Balaban's My Boyfriend's Back premiered on August 6, 1993, where McConaughey made his first big screen appearance as ''Guy 2''.[26] On September 24, Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused premiered.[27] McConaughey played Wooderson in a large ensemble cast of actors who would later become stars, including Jason London, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, Joey Lauren Adams, Nicky Katt, and Rory Cochrane. He was not originally cast in the film, as the role of Wooderson was originally small and meant to be cast locally for budget purposes. At the time of casting, he was a film student at the University of Texas in Austin, who went out with his girlfriend at the Hyatt hotel bar,[28] where he approached casting director Don Phillips in the bar of the Hyatt.[29] Phillips recalls, "The bartender says to him, 'See that guy down there? That’s Don Phillips. He cast Sean Penn in Fast Times.' And Matthew goes, 'I’m gonna go down and talk to this guy.'" Phillips also recalls that Linklater didn't like McConaughey at first "because he was too handsome." During production, another character named Pickford was meant to be a larger role. Due to the behavior of the actor playing Pickford with other cast members, his screen time was cut in favor of McConaughey's character, Wooderson. Linklater recalled "There was another actor who was kind of the opposite [of McConaughey]. He wasn’t really getting along with everybody. I could tell the actors weren’t responding to him."[30] Much of the Wooderson role was improvised or written on the spot.[30] Dazed and Confused was released on September 24, 1993, in 183 theaters, grossing $918,127 on its opening weekend. It went on to make $7.9 million in North America.[31] The film received positive reviews from critics. The film generally gets favorable reviews.[32] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 92% approval rating. The website's critical consensus reads: "Featuring an excellent ensemble cast, a precise feel for the 1970s, and a killer soundtrack, Dazed and Confused is a funny, affectionate, and clear-eyed look at high school life."[33] In her review for The Austin Chronicle, Marjorie Baumgarten gave particular praise to Matthew McConaughey's performance: "He is a character we're all too familiar with in the movies but McConaughey nails this guy without a hint of condescension or whimsy, claiming this character for all time as his own".[34]

In 1994, McConaughey acted in Angels in the Outfield, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, and Daniel Johnston‘s music video “Life in Vain”.

On February 3, 1995, Herbert Ross' Boys on the Side premiered, where McConaughey acted.[35] That year he also acted in Brian Cox's Scorpion Spring, crime thriller.[36]

On June 21, 1996, John Sayles' Lone Star premiered. It's a neo-Western mystery film set in a small town in South Texas. McConaughey is in an ensemble cast that features Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, and Elizabeth Peña.[37] On July 24, McConaughey played the lawyer Jake Brigance in Joel Schumacher's A Time to Kill premiering that day.[38] The film is based on the John Grisham courtroom crime novel of the same name.[39] In an ensemble piece McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey share the top billing. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 67%. The critics' consensus reads: "Overlong and superficial, A Time to Kill nonetheless succeeds on the strength of its skillful craftsmanship and top-notch performances".[40] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A" on scale of A+ to F.[41] In the U.S. it reached number one during its first two weeks and grossed over $108 million domestically, and an additional $43,500,000 was made internationally.[42] At the MTV Movie Awards, McConaughey won Best Breakthrough Performance.[43] On the 1st of November, Larger Than Life premiered. In this road comedy film starring Bill Murray, and directed by Howard Franklin, McConaughey played a supporting role.[44] Also that year he acted in Glory Daze.[45]

In 1997, McConaughey starred in the science fiction drama film Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan's 1985 novel of the same name; Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan wrote the story outline for the film. In the film, Jodie Foster portrays the film's protagonist, Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds strong evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make first contact. The nations of the world fund the construction of the machine and an international panel is assembled to choose a candidate to travel in the machine. Although Arroway is a frontrunner to go, her hopes are scuppered by Christian philosopher Palmer Joss (McConaughey), a panel member whom Arroway met and briefly became romantically involved with. Contact premiered on July 1, 1997, at the Westwood Theater in Los Angeles, California.[46] The film was released in the United States on July 11, 1997, in 1,923 theaters, earning $20,584,908 in its opening weekend. Contact eventually grossed $100,920,329 in the US and $70,200,000 in foreign countries, reaching a worldwide total of $171,120,329. On the basis of 66 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 65% of critics gave positive reviews. The critical consensus reads, "Contact elucidates stirring scientific concepts and theological inquiry at the expense of satisfying storytelling, making for a brainy blockbuster that engages with its ideas, if not its characters."[47] Also that year, McConaughey starred as then-lawyer Roger Sherman Baldwin in Steven Spielberg's Amistad, released in December, opposite Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne, Anthony Hopkins, and Djimon Hounsou.[48]

In 1998, The Newton Boys, co-written and directed by Richard Linklater was released. It is based on the true story of the Newton Gang, a family of bank robbers from Uvalde, Texas. The film stars McConaughey, the other Newton family members are played by Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D'Onofrio.

In 1999, McConaughey acted in EDtv.[23] Directed by Ron Howard, its an adaptation of the Quebecois film Louis 19, King of the Airwaves (Louis 19, le roi des ondes) (1994),[49] with an ensemble that includes Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, Ellen DeGeneres, Martin Landau, Rob Reiner, Sally Kirkland, Elizabeth Hurley, Clint Howard, and Dennis Hopper. The film was a box office bomb, grossing only $35.2 million from an $80 million production budget.[50]

In 2000, U-571 a 2000 submarine film directed by Jonathan Mostow and starring McConaughey, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi, Jake Weber, and Matthew Settle. The plot is fictional and portrays a World War II German submarine boarded by American submariners to capture her Enigma cipher machine. The film was financially successful and reasonably well received by critics.[51][52]

2001 to 2013: Rom-com leading man to established actor

McConaughey in 2008, participating in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon

By the early 2000s, he was frequently cast in romantic comedies, including The Wedding Planner and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, both of which were successful at the box office.[53]

During this period, he appeared as a firefighter in the low-budget film Tiptoes, with Kate Beckinsale, in Two for the Money as a protégé to Al Pacino's gambling mogul, and in Frailty with Bill Paxton, who also directed.[23][54]

McConaughey starred in the 2005 feature film Sahara, along with Steve Zahn and Penélope Cruz.[55] Prior to the release of the film, he promoted it by sailing down the Amazon River and trekking to Mali.[56] That same year, McConaughey was named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2005.[57] In 2006, he co-starred with Sarah Jessica Parker in the romantic comedy Failure to Launch and as Marshall head football coach Jack Lengyel in We Are Marshall. McConaughey also provided voice work in an ad campaign for the Peace Corps in late 2006.[58] He replaced Owen Wilson in Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder after Wilson's suicide attempt.[59] On January 21, 2008, McConaughey became the new spokesman for the national radio campaign, "Beef: It's What's for Dinner", replacing Sam Elliott.[60][61]

McConaughey at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011

McConaughey recognized that his "lifestyle, living on the beach, running with my shirt off, doing romantic comedies" had caused him to be typecast for certain roles, and he sought dramatic work with other themes.[62] This shift in his choice of roles has been known as the "McConaissance" between 2011 and 2014.[63] He said:

I got to feeling like, for a few years, I was doing something that I liked to do with romantic and action comedies. But believe me, I noticed there were other things that were not coming in. And if they were coming in, it was in an independent form with a much smaller paycheck, and nobody really wanting to get behind them ... But I knew I could say no to the things I'd been doing. In saying no to those things, I knew work was going to dry up for awhile ... Year and a half, still nothing. At two years, all of a sudden, in my opinion, I became a new good idea for some good directors.[62]

In 2012, McConaughey starred alongside Channing Tatum in Magic Mike, based on Tatum's early life, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh.[64] He returned to his East Texas roots, working again with director Richard Linklater on Bernie, playing district attorney Danny Buck Davidson.[65] In June 2012, McConaughey was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[66]

In 2013, he portrayed Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. The role of a rodeo rider who discovers he has AIDS and struggles to get treatment required him to lose nearly 50 lb (22 kg).[67] The film earned McConaughey many acting awards, including the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Drama, and the Academy Award for Best Actor.[68][69] His co-star Jared Leto won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, making Dallas Buyers Club the first film since Mystic River (2003) to win both awards.[70][71] He also featured in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street as Mark Hanna, an early boss of Jordan Belfort.[72] During this time, McConaughey recorded a public service announcement in Austin, Texas for the LBJ Presidential Library.[73]

McConaughey at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival

2014 to present day: Subsequent success

In April 2014, Time magazine included McConaughey in its annual Time 100 as one of the "Most Influential People in the World".[74] In August 2014, the Lincoln Motor Company signed a multi-year collaboration with McConaughey for an ad campaign. The commercials, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), featured McConaughey as a storyteller driving around in Lincoln's MKC crossover.[75] Shortly after the commercials debuted in September 2014, they were parodied by Ellen DeGeneres, Conan O'Brien, Jim Carrey, South Park, and Saturday Night Live. Overall sales for Lincoln increased by 25 percent one month after the ads debuted.[76] The series of commercials starring McConaughey continued for several more years; during this period he also endorsed the MKZ sedan, MKX and Nautilus crossovers and Aviator SUV.

On November 17, 2014, McConaughey received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located on 6931 Boulevard.[77] Also that year, he shared star billing with Woody Harrelson in HBO's crime drama anthology series True Detective.[78] For his role as Rust Cohle, he won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series.[79] He was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, which he lost to Bryan Cranston and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film.[80][81] With his first Oscar win and the critical acclaim received for True Detective, "McConaughey seems to be tapping into something essential, remaining himself while stretching, getting older while staying the same age." Critic Rachel Syme dubbed his recognition and performances while taking on more complex, dramatic roles as "The McConaissance".[5]

McConaughey also played Cooper, a widowed father and astronaut, alongside Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Mackenzie Foy, and Casey Affleck in Christopher Nolan's science fiction film Interstellar (2014).[82] After finishing Gus Van Sant's 2015 film The Sea of Trees with Ken Watanabe,[83] in 2016, McConaughey starred in two films, Free State of Jones and Gold, and voiced leading characters in two animated films, Kubo and the Two Strings and Sing.

In 2016, McConaughey was hired as creative director and celebrity spokesman for Wild Turkey's latest campaign, to bring in more women and more international customers.[84]

McConaughey starred as Walter Padick in the 2017 Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower, which received negative reactions from the critics.[85][86][87][88] In 2018, he starred in the true life gangster drama White Boy Rick,[89] which gained mixed reviews. In 2019, he headlined the erotic thriller Serenity, that also starred Diane Lane and Anne Hathaway. The film was panned by both critics and audiences after its release on January 25.[90] McConaughey next had the starring role in Harmony Korine's The Beach Bum, a comedy also featuring Zac Efron and Jonah Hill. The film was released on March 29, 2019.[91][92] In late 2019, McConaughey appeared in the Guy Ritchie film The Gentlemen, playing fictional cannabis baron Mickey Pearson.

In 2020, McConaughey published his memoir, Greenlights.[93]

Personal life

McConaughey and his wife, Camila Alves, in 2010

McConaughey met Camila Alves in 2006. He and Alves became engaged on December 25, 2011, and were married in a private Catholic ceremony[94] on June 9, 2012, in Austin, Texas, where they reside.[95][96][97] Together, they have three children: a son born in July 2008,[98] a daughter born in January 2010,[99] and a second son born in December 2012.[100]

McConaughey is a Christian and attends a non-denominational church.[101]

In 2019, he became a minority owner of Austin FC, a team in Major League Soccer that began play in 2021.[102]

In March 2021, McConaughey confirmed that he is considering running for governor of Texas in 2022.[103] In an October 2021 Twitter Spaces interview with NPR, McConaughey was asked if he were going to run for governor of Texas. He replied, "I am not -- until I am."[104] Just over two weeks before the Texas primary candidate filing deadline, McConaughey released a video on his official Twitter profile stating that he will not be competing for the office.[105][106]


McConaughey started the just keep livin foundation, which is "dedicated to helping teenage kids lead active lives and make healthy choices to become great men and women".[107] On February 25, 2016, McConaughey received the Creative Conscience award from unite4:humanity for his work with his foundation.[108]

In 2019, McConaughey officially became a professor of practice for the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the Moody College of Communication in his alma mater, UT-Austin; he had served as a visiting instructor since 2015.[109][110] The first two sessions were about the filming of the movie Free State of Jones.[111]

Filmography and accolades

Social media

McConaughey became an active YouTuber in March 2021.[112] As of May 2021, his channel has 662,000 subscribers and 6.5 million video views.[113]

His Instagram account with the handle officiallymcconaughey [114] has reached more than 5.5 million followers.[115]


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External links