Matthew McConaughey, a Uvalde native, is one of Texas’s most famous actors—“a gossip-blog punch line and a box office monster” as John Spong wrote in 2008. “His mom, Kay, was a kindergarten teacher, and his dad, Jim, had been drafted by the Green Bay Packers, [but ran] a gas station and an oil pipe yard, and died at 64 while having sex with Kay on a Monday morning.”
McConaughey was a graduate student in film directing at the University of Texas Austin when he walked into the Hyatt bar one summer Thursday and introduced himself to Don Phillips, a producer who—after a long night with McConaughey, which included getting booted out of the bar—would cast McConaughey in his breakout role in Dazed and Confused. As John Spong recounted in his 2003 oral history of the making of the movie, McConaughey’s father died five days into the shoot. Walking around on set with the director Richard Linklater, following his father’s funeral, McConaughey mused, “I can still have a relationship with my dad, but I’ve got to keep him alive. He’s got to just keep livin’” That comment inspired the dialogue that saved the movie and launched his career. On the final night of filming, as the cast was standing on the football field, desperately searching for the words that would make for the movie’s climax, McConaughey busted out with the now-famous line, “The older you get, the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’ man, l-i-v-i-n’”
That’s been McConaughey’s personal philosophy from the time Jason Cohen wrote our first profile of him in 1996 (the name of McConaughey’s production company? j.k. livin productions) to our most recent, 2008 profile of him and his new lifestyle brand, “called—you guessed it—j.k. livin.” McConaughey has appeared in many movies in that time, namely romantic comedies, such as The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, and Fool’s Gold, as well as dramas and quirky films like The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie (co-written by Skip Hollandsworth and based on Hollandsworth’s 1998 Texas Monthly story “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas”), Killer Joe, and Magic Mike. His role in the Dallas Buyers Club as a bigoted man dying of AIDS earned him rave reviews and an Oscar for Best Actor in 2014.
All the while, we’ve lovingly tracked McConaughey’s triumphs (what a performance in Bernie!) as well as the moments he’s, let us say, bottomed out, such as when, in 2000, he was arrested for dancing “to the beat of his own bongos (and his own bong) while clad only in a bandanna bearing the logo of his beloved alma mater, the University of Texas.” Rarely has the title Bum Steer been more apt.
15 Things We Learned About Matthew McConaughey From His University of Houston Commencement Speech
More McConaughfacts for you to bring up at the next McConaissance Faire.
So How Is Matthew McConaughey in His First Post-McConaissance Blockbuster?
A military pilot who agrees to lead an expedition into space in an attempt to save mankind is the sort of role McConaughey probably would have been offered before he became an Oscar-winning prestige actor. How does the new McConaughey translate in a blockbuster role?
Matthew McConaughey’s Hero Drives a Lincoln
That’s an alright, alright, alright way to get around town.
Alright Alright Alright: A Dark-Horse For Statewide Office
He can’t be in the run-off, but Matthew McConaughey is launching a write-in candidacy for Texas Agriculture Commissioner.
Alright, Alright, Alright: The T-Shirt Is Just Part Of Matthew McConaughey’s Clothing Line
The mall is a flat circle, at which one can buy McConaughey’s “just keep livin” line of menswear at Dillard’s.
Before the McConaissance
Searching for signs of greatness in the tepid rom-coms of this year’s best actor.
Matthew McConaughey plays a bigoted man dying of AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club—and proves once again that he should be taken seriously.
Roiling on the River
In his next film, “Mud,” Austin filmmaker Jeff Nichols tackles the novel that Hemingway once called the source of all modern American literature.
Matthew McConaughey Has a Presidents’ Day Gift For You
The Texas actor pays tribute to a fellow Hill Country native.
Matthew McConaughey Works Through Stages of Grief After Lance Armstrong’s Confession
First he was mad, then he was sad. Now he is coming to terms.
How Good is Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike?
Really good, according to most reviewers. Not only does the actor “dominate” Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper film, but his “hilariously self-parodying” character plays the bongos and says “all right, all right, all right.”
Five Things about Matthew McConaughey’s Wedding
Did your invitation to Matthew McConaughey’s wedding get lost in the mail? Here’s what you missed.
Lights, Camera, Carthage!
Nearly fifteen years after Richard Linklater and I started talking about turning a TEXAS MONTHLY story into a major motion picture, it’s finally hitting the big screen, with a little help from Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Shirley MacLaine—and a seventy-year-old retired hairdresser from Rusk named Kay Baby Epperson.
The Spirit of ’76
How Matthew McConaughey got discovered, why Renée Zellweger’s part is so small, why some of the actresses can’t eat ketchup to this day, and everything else you didn’t know about the making of the classic high school flick Dazed and Confused.
A Q&A With Skip Hollandsworth
The executive editor on what it was like to work with Richard Linklater on Bernie, the star-studded film based on an East Texas murder story.
A Killer Role
In Killer Joe, Matthew McConaughey keeps his shirt on. For a while.
Yes, yes, new baby and new movie— but what Matthew McConaughey really wants to talk about is the cushion of the flip-flop, the skooching of hoodie sleeves, the proper thickness of koozies, and his coming career as the arbiter of redneck-Buddha chic.
Which Hollywood legend is “the bitch of all time”? Which comedienne’s daughter was a dope addict by age fourteen and came to Houston to get unhooked? Texas’ top gossips tell all.
Hooray for Hollywood, Texas
The players. The stories. A special report on our booming film business.
The Starlet—Sandra Bullock
Speeding toward her new life in Austin.
The Latest Buzz
Why everyone’s dazed and confused about Richard Linklater’s age.
He’s Nude, Dude!
The naked truth about Matthew McConaughey.
In the summer of 1992, when Jason Cohen was a relatively unknown journalist and Matthew McConaughey was an extremely unknown actor, the two met on the Austin set of Dazed and Confused. “He looked so weird,” recalls 28-year-old Cohen, who was writing about the movie for Details. “He had this mustache and this funny hair. […]
His Time to Kill
He shone in Lone Star; now he’s thrilling ’em in A Time to Kill. How talent and timing made native Texan Matthew McConaughey Hollywood’s hottest leading man.
Dazed and Discovered
Sometimes stars are found in the unlikeliest places.