Actor Matthew McConaughey has captured fans and captivated audiences with his brilliant acting and incredible good looks. The Hollywood heartthrob from Texas has earned his reputation and accolades because of his versatility, commitment, and incredible performances onscreen.
While those tidbits might be common knowledge, these are some facts about the Academy Award-winning actor that people may not know.
Growing up in Uvalde, Texas, Matthew McConaughey was the youngest of three boys. McConaughey was born in 1969 to strict and devout Christian parents.
He was raised to conduct himself in a military soldier manner by answering "Yes, sir" and "No, ma'am." Tough love was the narrative in the McConaughey household.
McConaughey's Dad Was A 1953 NFL Draft Prospect
McConaughey's father, Jim, was a promising young NFL prospect. He played college football for the N.C.A.A. Houston Cougars and the Kentucky Wildcats.
Jim was raised in Louisiana and had future aspirations for a full-time playing career in the NFL. His dream would quickly become a reality in 1953.
Jim McConaughey, The 27th Pick Of The Green Bay Packers
With the 27th pick overall in the 1953 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Jim McConaughey.
McConaughey was a defensive lineman at Kentucky and then for Houston. He was a first-string player, meaning he was a starter. McConaughey was highly touted, but unfortunately, the Packers released him before the regular season began.
McConaughey's Related To A Civil War General
If there was any doubt about the authenticity of Matthew McConaughey and his southern heritage should be cleared up by hearing his southern drawl, and his roots include being related to an army general named General Dandridge McCrae.
McCrae had an Irish, Scottish, German, Swedish, and Welch background. The McConaughey name comes from the Scottish part of the family.
"Little Mr. Texas," Matthew McConaughey
The origins of McConaughey being an iconic heartthrob go back to his days as a child growing up in the state of Texas.
His mother, Kay, entered the then 8-year-old Matthew into a local beauty pageant for boys called "Little Mr. Texas." He won runner-up, but his Mom said he won because the actual winner and his parents cheated.
Kay and Jim Raised Matthew With Tough Love
Kay and Jim McConaughey did not raise their son Matthew to grow up privileged or as if everything he got was deserved and not earned.
His parents instilled discipline in their son from an early age. They believed Matthew should give everything he had to get what he wanted.
Hunting Armadillos Was Part Of His First Job
While he was in high school, a teenaged McConaughey worked at a country club. His job at Oak Forest Country Club was to arrive for work at 3:30 am and rake all 77 sand traps by the time it opened at 7:30 am.
The golf course had an issue with armadillos snacking on the greens, so McConaughey began hunting the pesky little animals.
Australia Was Not Kind To A Young McConaughey
When he was 18 years old, the future Academy Award winner went on a student exchange trip to Australia. What he was supposed to experience was living in the outback and the culture of the country. Instead, what he almost got was a bout of reality.
He spent the year alone and worked six jobs to make ends meet and to pass the time.
Before Becoming the "Sexiest Man Alive," He Was the "Most Handsome"
Almost as much a part of Matthew McConaughey's appeal as an actor is his looks. Anyone who knew him growing up as a youngster in Texas would say the journey to becoming a Hollywood stud started for him in high school.
Before being voted the 2005 People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive," McConaughey was named "Most Handsome" as a senior in high school.
Kay and Jim McConaughey's Marriage Had Its Ups And Downs
Kay and Jim McConaughey had a marriage that resembled a rollercoaster ride at an amusement park. McConaughey reveals the extent of the turbulent relationship between his parents in a People Magazine article.
McConaughey said although they got into fights with each other, the overall tenure of their time together was rich in love.
McConaughey's First Gig Was A "blip" In A Commercial
While many actors earned their stripes performing in low-budget films, McConaughey debuted his acting skills briefly in a commercial.
On top of that, McConaughey appeared in student films and directed a short film called Chicano Chariots. That was all the experience he had before he landed his first role in a Hollywood movie.
McConaughey's Likeability Earned Him More Screen-Time
While sitting with his girlfriend in a Texas hotel bar, the casting director of Dazed and Confused, Don Phillips, was pointed out to McConaughey, and he approached him.
Initially, McConaughey was not supposed to appear on screen as much as he did. The reason? Another actor was not getting along with the crew and had his time given to Matthew.
He Was "Too Handsome"
While McConaughey wound up getting the role in Dazed and Confused, director Richard Linklater did not like the actor at first. According to casting director Don Phillips, the reason why Linklater did not like the soon-to-be actor for the movie was "because he was too handsome."
Thankfully, everything worked out!
McConaughey's Debut Was Anything But Dazed And Confused
Much to the surprise of people who grew up with McConaughey, his screen debut was not playing the role of an upstanding citizen or educated professional. McConaughey splashed into the Hollywood scene in 1993, playing a weird, slimy, and sleazy individual.
In the film, McConaughey plays a 20-year-old creepy former high schooler named David Wooderson.
Five Days Into Filming Dazed and Confused, Matthew Lost His Father
Although his dad was tough on him with how he raised Matthew, the two had a close relationship. While only five days after filming Dazed and Confused in 1993, Jim McConaughey passed away.
Losing his dad devastated McConaughey not only because they were close but also because it happened without him seeing any of Matthew's future success.
McConaughey And Higher Learning
McConaughey did not always want to be a Hollywood actor. He attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio-Television-Film.
He wanted to pursue a law degree and practice as a defense attorney but soon abandoned that plan because the extra schooling would strain the family's finances. He also lost interest in becoming a lawyer.
Romance And Family Took Priority Over Acting And Awards
In 2006, McConaughey met and began dating Camila Alves. Alves is a Brazilian model and fashion designer. The couple announced their engagement in 2011 on Christmas Day.
Less than a year later, the stunning couple married in a private Catholic ceremony on June 9, 2012, in Austin, where they lived together.
McConaughey Spent His Time to Kill Dating His Two Co-stars
Before his marriage and succession of roles in romantic comedies, McConaughey got his first Hollywood lead role in A Time to Kill. Both Ashley Judd and Sandra Bullock entered a relationship with McConaughey.
Judd played McConaughey's wife in the film and briefly dated him in 1996 before he started any romantic involvement with Bullock.
Hollywood Put McConaughey And Sandra Bullock Together
Actress Sandra Bullock co-starred with McConaughey in the 1996 film A Time to Kill. Bullock and McConaughey fell in love during filming and began dating.
According to McConaughey, the two are still friends. His brilliant performance in the movie put him into serious contention for the role of Jack Dawson in Titanic before it was given to Leonardo DiCaprio.
He Has An Adorable Relationship With Kate Hudson
Between Fool's Gold and How to Lost A Guy in 10 Days, it is safe to say McConaughey and his rom-com co-star Kate Hudson have some serious on-screen chemistry. Even so, the two never actually dated in real life, saying their relationship and kissing were always professional.
During an Instagram Live event, Hudson said, "In respect to our now partners, we do kiss nicely," to which McConaughey replied, "I would have to agree with you. It was always a very nice kiss."
Hollywood's Fame And Fortune Were Not For McConaughey
After he starred in the 1996 film A Time to Kill, McConaughey's career took off everything he hated about being a famous Hollywood actor came along with it.
McConaughey left Tinsel Town and backpacked for 21 days in Mali under a fake alias, saying he was a boxer. To keep up the rouse, he accepted and lost badly in a fight after being challenged.
Versatility Was Part Of McConaughey's Appeal
In preparation for his role in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey shed an incredible 50 pounds. He portrayed the life and times of Ron Woodroof, a rodeo rider who struggles with the news he's contracted AIDS.
McConaughey was rewarded with an Academy Award for Best Actor for his accurate portrayal of an AIDS patient unable to deal with the treatments involved.
Many Accolades To His Name
While an Academy Award is the award coveted by many actors, McConaughey has more than an Oscar to his name. Throughout his incredible career, the actor has been lucky enough to win Film Independent Spirit Awards, Crime Thriller Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and many more.
For those who know a thing or two about these awards, they're all very different, showing McConaughey's versatility in his art.
Being Typecast Was Not Worth The Millions He Turned Down
When the name Matthew McConaughey enters the conversation, most immediately think of his southern drawl, charming smile, handsome appearance, and his roles in romantic comedies.
Being typecast, where he was offered solely roles in romance movies, turned McConaughey away from acting for ten months. He instantly turned down an $8 million offer because it was for the same genre he was trying to escape.
$8 Million Not Enough, Matthew? How About $14.5 Million?
Despite taking a timeout from acting to rebrand himself as a serious actor, McConaughey was almost tempted back into the rom-com genre.
After he rejected a leading role in a film that would have paid him $8 million, he was repeatedly sought out for a script he turned down for $14.5 million. Admittedly it took him a while before he turned down the offer.
Outside Of Rom-Coms, He's Known For His Philanthropy
Not only was Dazed and Confused the introduction to McConaughey's Hollywood career, but it also inspired one of his philanthropic endeavors.
In the movie, he says, "You gotta just keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N." He then started a charity, in his words, "dedicated to helping teenage kids lead active lives and make healthy choices to become great men and women." He named it the "Just Keep Livin' Foundation."
Professor Matthew McConaughey
With everything he accomplished throughout his acting career and his deep involvement in philanthropic and charitable activities, McConaughey decided to add a college professor to the list.
McConaughey first served as a visiting instructor in 2015 at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, before becoming a professor in 2019. McConaughey taught in the Department of Radio-Television-Film.
His Mom Was Enamored With Fame
Once fame and fortune started blowing up for McConaughey, it caused issues for him in his personal life. While he tried to downplay being famous, his mother Kay enjoyed every minute of the red carpets, awards, and paparazzi.
She allegedly shared details about Matthew with the public. Details the actor only shared with her and didn't want to get out. This caused a strain in their relationship.
McConaughey And Kay Did Not Speak For Eight Years
McConaughey refused to have any contact with his mother for eight years after dealing with her fascination with the bright lights of Hollywood.
It took every bit of those silent years to get over what he felt was betrayal by his mother. Once he was able to forgive her, he established some boundaries for her, and they were able to move on.
Matthew McConaughey: New York Times Best-Seller
It seems as if McConaughey is never satisfied with being labeled or pigeonholed. On top of philanthropy and acting, he wrote a book chronicling intimate details about his life and career.
Greenlights was written as a memoir; in it, he shares everything from prayers and poems to bumper-sticker sayings. The book topped the New York Times best-seller list for nearly all of 2020.
For McConaughey, This Is Not "The End"
Matthew McConaughey came a long way from being the youngest of three boys raised in a strict Christian family. He is a world-famous actor, philanthropist, family man, and spiritual.
After winning Academy and Golden Globe awards, the world of politics captured McConaughey's attention. He considered running for governor of Texas and made a speech at a White House press briefing.