Who Is Matthew McConaughey?
Matthew McConaughey was born on November 4, 1969, in Uvalde, Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and got his first big break with the 1993 film Dazed and Confused. He later starred in A Time to Kill (1996) and Amistad (1997), among many others. Named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2005, McConaughey more recently starred in Mud (2012) and Dallas Buyers Club (2013), which earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. McConaughey came on strong in 2014 with his starring role on the HBO series True Detective, a project that propelled him even further on his star trajectory.
Early Life & Career
Matthew David McConaughey was born on November 4, 1969, in Uvalde, Texas. He was an athlete at a young age, playing golf and tennis at Longview High School, and voted as “Most Handsome Student.”
‘Dazed and Confused,’ ‘A Time to Kill’
McConaughey stayed in Texas for college, graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 1993. While he had previously appeared in commercials and in small film roles, McConaughey got his first big break in 1993’s Dazed and Confused. His endlessly quotable David Wooderson character would help define the actor going forward, and the role represents a touchstone comedic performance in his oeuvre.
Known for his good looks and easy-going personality, McConaughey soon achieved leading-man status with A Time to Kill (1996), which also starred Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. The press often speculated about the nature of McConaughey’s relationship with Bullock, but sources close to the pair insisted that they were only friends.
Movies as a Leading Man
Making the cover of Vanity Fair in 1996, McConaughey was seen as a rising star in Hollywood, and he had several dramatic projects that helped further establish his talents as an actor. In 1997, he appeared in Contact with Jodie Foster, a science-fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. That same year, he starred in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, playing a lawyer involved in the trial of African slaves who staged a revolt on board the slave ship Amistad.
Returning to his comedic roots, McConaughey starred in 1999’s EdTV as a lowly clerk who becomes the star of his own reality show. The film was both a critical and commercial disappointment. Later that year, McConaughey began developing some notoriety for his offbeat off-screen behavior. The police visited his Austin, Texas, home after receiving a noise complaint in 1998. There, they discovered a naked McConaughey playing the bongos and found a small amount of marijuana. McConaughey was booked on drug charges and for resisting arrest. The drug charges were later dropped, but the actor paid a fine for violating a local noise ordinance.
‘The Wedding Planner,’ ‘Failure to Launch’
Bouncing back, McConaughey emerged as a king of romantic comedies. He starred in The Wedding Planner (2001) with Jennifer Lopez and then in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) with Kate Hudson. He then tried his hand at action with 2005’s Sahara and became romantically involved with co-star Penelope Cruz.
Working with Al Pacino, McConaughey played a con man in the dramatic thriller Two for the Money (2005). While neither Sahara or Two for the Money scored at the box office, McConaughey remained popular. He cemented his status as a heartthrob later that year when he was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
In 2006 McConaughey returned to familiar territory with the romantic comedy Failure to Launch, co-starring Sarah Jessica Parker. He also re-teamed with Kate Hudson for 2008’s Fool’s Gold. Shortly before the film was released, McConaughey announced on his website that he was going to become a father. He and then-girlfriend Camila Alves welcomed a baby boy, Levi Alves McConaughey, on July 7, 2008.
‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,’ ‘Magic Mike’
That same year, McConaughey appeared in the 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder — taking over the part for Owen Wilson — alongside Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. He went on to star in 2009’s The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past with Jennifer Garner and Michael Douglas. After taking a break in 2010, McConaughey starred in The Lincoln Lawyer (as Mick Haller) and Killer Joe (as Killer Joe Cooper) — both released in 2011 — followed by the drama Mud (2012). The film garnered both critical and commercial acclaim. Also in 2012, McConaughey gained some commercial acclaim for his performance in the comedic film Magic Mike; he played Dallas, a male stripper who mentors a younger performer known as Magic Mike (Channing Tatum). He also appeared in a smaller role in Wolf of Wall Street.
‘Dallas Buyers Club’ & Oscar Win
Hot on the heels of that Oscar-winning performance came True Detective, a 2014 HBO series that McConaughey both starred in and executive produced. The complex role of Rust Cohle was dark and philosophical, and it gave the actor a whole new arena in which to stretch his legs. For his efforts, McConaughey was nominated for an Emmy and was also named to Time magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World.
‘Interstellar,’ ‘Free State of Jones’
Later that year, McConaughey starred in Christopher Nolan‘s sci-fi epic Interstellar, playing a restless astronaut who leaves Earth to seek a new home for its inhabitants and his family. The film was critically acclaimed and was a huge hit at the box office. In 2015 McConaughey starred opposite Naomi Watts in the Gus Van Sant drama The Sea of Trees. The following year, he took on the role of real-life Confederate army deserter Newton Knight in Free State of Jones and voiced the character Beetle in the animated film Kubo and the Two Strings.
‘The Dark Tower,’ ‘White Boy Rick’
After co-starring with Idris Elba in a 2017 adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower, McConaughey made his mark the following year as the father of a 14-year-old FBI informant in the biographical drama White Boy Rick. He then opened 2019 alongside Anne Hathaway in the thriller Serenity, before returning to a patented stoner-type role for The Beach Bum.
UT Film Professor
In 2015 McConaughey began serving as a visiting film instructor at UT Austin’s Moody College of Communication. In summer 2019 it was announced that the actor had been appointed a faculty member to teach a Script to Screen film production class for the fall semester.
Among his commercial endorsements, McConaughey has been the spokesman for brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Wild Turkey, as well as the Lincoln Motor Company, which has been parodied by Ellen DeGeneres, Conan O’Brien and SNL.
Wife & Family
Matthew McConaughey married Camila Alves in 2012. They have three children together, sons Levi (b. 2008) and Livingston (b. 2012), and daughter Vida (b. 2010).