From romantic comedies to high-intensity dramas, Matthew McConaughey has done them all while becoming a critically acclaimed actor over the years. At a time when other good looking actors were being typecast in romantic comedies and he himself was in danger of being typecast, his knack of choosing the right scripts has turned his career around, something film critic Rachel Syme dubbed as “The McConnaissance.” Now an Academy Award winner for his role in Dallas Buyers Club in 2013, he continues to choose roles that are drastically different from previous ones he has portrayed. On that note, here are some facts about Matthew McConaughey that you might find interesting.
1. Matthew McConaughey’s ancestry includes English, German, Irish, Scottish, and Swedish.
McConaughey was born on November 4, 1969, in Uvalde, Texas. His mother, Mary Kathleen McCabe from Trenton, New Jersey, is a former kindergarten teacher and a published author. His father, James Donald McConaughey, from Louisiana, was a football player and ran an oil pipe supply business. On his father’s side, McConaughey is related to Confederate Brigadier General Dandridge McRae, who was born in Baldwin County, Alabama. One of his paternal great-grandfathers was a Scottish immigrant born in Aberdeen, Scotland. One of his maternal great-grandmothers was a German born in Elberfeld, Westphalia, Prussia, in the German Empire. His last name, McConaughey, is also of Scottish origin.(source)
2. McConaughey was voted the school’s “Most Handsome Student” after battling acne for three years.
As a teenager, McConaughey suffered from acne. During that time, his mother was selling door to door a new product, mink oil, which promised to pull out impurities from the skin and treat acne. Unfortunately for McConaughey, it had the opposite effect on his skin. Instead of clearing his pores, the oil clogged them making his acne worse. He had to consult a dermatologist who said that another two weeks of that treatment would have needed him to undergo surgery to remove the scars. So, his father decided to sue the company, citing the “emotional distress” his son had to go through. However, within a year of using Accutane, his skin became normal. The lawsuit his father filed was rejected as the judge found out McConaughey was recently voted the Most Handsome Student at school.(source)
3. McConaughey is a member of Delta Tau Delta, an international college fraternity.
After attending Longview High School in Longview, Texas, McConaughey moved to Australia for a year as a Rotary exchange student in 1988. When he came back, he attended the University of Texas at Austin, and that was where he joined the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film.(source)
4. McConaughey suffered from baldness in the 1990s and had to undergo treatment for it.
During an interview on Live! with Kelly, McConaughey revealed that he didn’t always have the nice curly hair he sports now. He stated that by 1999, his head began to become bald and that he started using treatment for hair loss called Regenix. Apparently, it worked for him and according to him, his hair is now better than it was when he was 18 years old.(source)
5. One of McConaughey’s favorite bands is The Cult. During their performance in March 2012 in Austin, Texas, he went onstage and played congas with them for two songs.
After their Friday night’s performance at Chevy Sound Garage, The Cult performed at SXSW (South by Southwest) festival on March 17, 2012. Among a few other celebrities who attended the festival was McConaughey who played the congas for Ian Astbury, the lead vocalist and founding member of the British rock band.(source)
6. With no acting experience, McConaughey met a casting director at a bar at 3:30 in the morning. The director asked him to come down to the set at 9:30 that morning, and in six hours, his career was launched with Dazed and Confused (1993).
When the casting director Don Phillips and producer/director/writer Richard Linklater arrived with the cast in Austin, one of the main cast members, Shawn Andrews, wasn’t getting along well with the others. McConaughey, a 23-year-old University of Texas film student at that time, found out about Phillips from the bartender. He went to Phillips with some vodka and started a conversation.
Linklater at first found McConaughey too handsome for the role but became thoroughly convinced during rehearsals. His role was constantly modified with more lines added to make for Andrews’ lack of presence. Dazed and Confused proved to be a big hit, selling over two million copies and played for more than a year. McConaughey soon moved to Los Angels, and Phillips threw several parties which helped further his career as an actor.(source)
7. McConaughey’s original career plan was to graduate from law school and become a criminal defense attorney, something he ended up portraying in A Time to Kill (1996) and The Lincoln Lawyer (2011).
After he graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film in 1993, he originally intended to attend Southern Methodist University. He changed his mind after one of his brothers told him that their parents would not be able to afford the tuition at a private school. He also planned to attend law school after graduating from college but realized that he was not interested in becoming a lawyer. Three years after acting in Dazed and Confused, his big break came as the lawyer Jake Brigance in A Time to Kill (1996), an adaptation of John Grisham’s novel of the same name. The second time he acted as a lawyer was in the neo-noir thriller The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), adapted from Michael Connelly’s novel of the same name.(source)
8. Matthew McConaughey was the first choice for the role of Rose’s fiance, Cal Hockley, and was also considered for the role of Jack Dawson in the movie Titanic.
While casting, Chris O’Donnell, Billy Crudup, Stephen Dorff, and Jared Leto were considered along with McConaughey for the role of Jack Dawson in Titanic (1997). However, instead of Jack Dawson, McConaughey was offered the role of Cal Hockley, which he declined to play.(source)
9. In 1999, McConaughey was arrested for the possession of marijuana. When the police found him he was playing bongos and dancing naked, while another man joined in and clapped along.
After the police arrested McConaughey, he was booked on suspicion of possessing marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and for resisting transportation. He allegedly ignored the officer’s request to put his clothes on. He spent nine hours in jail and was released on a $1,000 bond. The drug charges were eventually dropped.(source)
10. McConaughey established the Just Keep Livin Foundation, a non-profit organization after his father died in 2008.
After his father died of heart attack, McConaughey struggled with the loss. According to him, it was during this time he was very influenced by a saying “just keep living” from one of his first movies, Dazed and Confused. The foundation provides after-school fitness and wellness programs in 32 inner-city high schools and sites with an aim to provide physical and mental health.(source)
11. McConaughey has used neither cologne nor deodorant for more than 20 years.
According to McConaughey, all the women in his life including his mother have told him that, “Hey, your natural smell smells, one, like a man, and, two, smells like you.” However, Kate Hudson wasn’t one of those women. While they were working together on the sets of Fool’s Gold, she apparently kept asking him to use “a salt rock, which is some natural deodorant,” to which he refused.(source)
12. For his role as the late AIDS-afflicted electrician Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey lost 47 pounds. He also received the Best Actor Oscar for the movie.
To lose his weight, McConaughey didn’t just decrease the amount of food he ate but also cut down on food-related activities. Instead of eating, thinking about food, or preparing his meal, he spent time reading and researching almost becoming a hermit. He cut out all the meetings at restaurants, and whoever wanted to meet him had to, instead, enter his controlled environment.(source)
13. Apart from starring in Wild Turkey’s ads, McConaughey also directs the ads and acts as the creative director for the bourbon company.
In order reach out to a wider audience, the Kentucky-based distillery Wild Turkey roped in McConaughey. After the launch of his campaign, the company has seen a 25% increase in female consumers. In addition to lending his face to the brand, he has also gone behind the camera as the chief storyteller and creative director. In his own words, “I wanted to be more than just the face of the campaign. I want to have my hands in the clay of how we tell the story, and I want to be a part of the whole story, not just the character in it.”(source)
14. McConaughey keeps a diary for each film he works on and for each foreign location he travels to.
In an interview by Andy Warhol, an American artist and director in the Interview Magazine, McConaughey answered several questions. When Warhol asked if he kept any diaries, McConaughey answered that he kept one for each film and one for each foreign land he traveled to.(source)
15. McConaughey is an animal lover and has helped rescue many critters including countless pets stranded after Hurricane Katrina.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, McConaughey joined the relief efforts in the southern states of the US to help save stranded animals including several dogs, cats, and hamsters. In another incident, he spotted a few kids in Sherman Oaks, California, who were covering a cat with hairspray to set it on fire. He leaped out of his car, snatched the cat away from them shouting at the gang and took it to an animal center.(1, 2)