Local hero Matthew McConaughey is gracing the cover of Esquire this month, and he didn’t hold anything back in a lengthy interview with the mag for his cover story.
The story takes a while to read, but for the McConnoisseur, it’s worth the time, despite some cringe-worthy writing (the writer calls McConaughey “the only cat wearing flip-flops with a kerchief wrapped around his head” in a Los Angeles nightclub at one point, and the whole meandering story is pretty hard to follow).
The writer and McConaughey sit in a dive bar in Hollywood, slinging back beer and tequila and talking about the Texas legend’s lows and highs throughout his extensive career. He was recently named spokesperson for Wild Turkey bourbon after the questionable choice to make some really bizarre Lincoln car commercials (when asked what he was thinking, he said “I like em…and they pay well.” Fair enough), and his latest role is the lead in “Gold,” a film loosely based on a 1990s mining scandal.
But McConaughey wasn’t always the chill, “just keep livin'” bro we Austinites know and love.
He didn’t always want to be an actor. But when he finally joined the film school at the University of Texas (where he’s now teaching a class!), one of his first acting gigs was one we hold pretty close to our hearts.
He landed a couple commercials, one for the Austin American-Statesman. It didn’t hurt that he had the looks. In high school, he was voted “Most Handsome.” Being the die-hard UT football fan that he is, he loved his line for the newspaper ad: “How else am I gonna keep up with my Horns?”
How else, indeed. Not long after, he landed his famed role in “Dazed and Confused” in the most McConaughey way possible.
So he’s at an Austin hotel bar in 1992. He gets to talking to a guy named Don Phillips. Turns out Don is a casting director. McConaughey tells him he’s in film school and wants to direct, but mostly they talk about life and golf. After the two of them get pretty good and shitfaced on vodkas, they get thrown out—a decision McConaughey protests, telling the manager, “I thought this was a bar!” Don is impressed; he tells the kid that he’s in town casting for a movie and McConaughey might be right for a part.
That role was Wooderson. After that, the movie offers came so quickly he could barely keep up…until he got “wobbly for a while” and was famously arrested, allegedly high as a kite and playing the bongos naked in the wee hours of the morning, and he was being typecast as that “wobbly” character in romantic comedies. He ran the rom-com circuit for a while, then after the unquestionable flop of “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” he made a “conscious decision to unbrand.”
He talked about the two years he spent off the grid by crediting is wife (then-girlfriend), Camila Alves, for her patience: “A good woman gives a man courage and confidence—the courage to have the confidence to go and do it, to not be worried as much or consider as much what the rest of the world thinks,” he says.
What brought him back from his unbranding? The birth of his son, Levi, and a role in “The Lincoln Lawyer” — and a slew of serious offers followed, from “Magic Mike” to “True Detective” and the gig that finally won him the ultimate trophy: “Dallas Buyers Club.”
He goes on to discuss his role in “Gold” and how it’s the first role since Wooderson that he’s seriously identified with, thanks to his dad, “Big Jim,” a Texas wildcatter and all-around really cool dude, from the sound of it.
The article reads:
Listening to McConaughey, you get the sense that Big Jim not only inspired McConaughey to take on Gold but influenced McConaughey’s whole life—drill to the core of McConaughey’s true “brand” and you’ll strike Big Jim.
If you can make it through the whole article (which is an impressive feat, to be honest), past the story of his marriage proposal to Camila Alves, his dad’s death and his favorite poem, the message at the heart of McConaughey (and in McConaughey’s heart) is pretty clear, and it’s what we love best about him: Just keep livin’, man.