Like many of the stories of false modesty that fill Hollywood, Matthew McConaughey says he had no speech prepared the night he won the Oscar. “I chose to come up with a very personal discourse of what has worked for me in my life rather than being generic,” says the actor, who won the Academy Award for best actor in 2014 for his portrayal of a AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club. On stage he dispatched in a few seconds the necessary thanks to the director and the defeated rivals. Then he talked about the three things he needs every day: someone to look up to, someone to look forward to, and someone to follow. “My hero will be me in 10 years,” he said then in a speech with the catchy timbre of an aphorism. The moment went viral with more than 24 million views.
Those words spoken in three minutes contained the essentials of a personal philosophy that McConaughey (Uvalde, Texas, 51 years old) delves into Greenlights (Green lights), his autobiography. The book, published in Spanish by Cúpula, is a mix between the diaries that he began to write at the age of 15, anecdotes from his life and career, and some elements of self-improvement literature. “It can be self-help, but it can also be relentless optimism,” says McConaughey, who refers to himself at times in the third person, and appears in Zoom’s video call wearing sunglasses and long hair tied in a garter. . Behind him is a United States flag and dozens of copies of his book, which has become a bestseller thanks to the transparent window inside a celebrity.
“The best moments in the book are when I am most personal. And the more intimately I talk to people about what it is to be human ”, reflects McConaughey, who shows his power as a storyteller by describing the violent family environment in which he grew up and the savage fights and mistreatment between his mother, Katy, and his father, Jim. In one of these, the discussion began at dinner time. He threw the table angrily at the screams of Katy, whom he chased through the kitchen. She reached for a knife and threatened to cut it in two, but ended up hitting him with the phone and breaking his nose. Jim, 6 feet tall and almost 100 kilos, bathed her in tomato sauce in response. “They dropped to their knees, onto the blood and ketchup-strewn linoleum floor … and they made love,” writes McConaughey.
Some readers have confessed to the scandal caused by some accounts of the McConaughey house, a couple who were divorced twice and married three times. Jim broke Katy’s middle finger four times. He also got involved with his first-born Mike and came close to doing it with Matthew as part of a rite of masculinity that today would be described as toxic. Despite this, he was a very important figure in his life who never saw him succeed. He died having sex with his wife before McConaughey debuted.
“We have to get off that cloud that love and romance is just beauty and softness. Love is tough My parents had ugly moments, but they never got over the love they had, “says McConaughey, who says he used these stories to prop up his theory of green lights, the need to cross through an experience to see the result on the other side from a new perspective. “This is where people believe that it is the point where everything explodes, where the sad end of something begins. But no. This is how they communicated, ”he says. He and his wife, Brazilian model Camila Alves, adds, “they do not practice corporal punishment” with their three children, ages 8, 11 and 13. “I don’t judge my parents for using it. They did not punish us because punishments take time and time is the most precious commodity. That is a great philosophy. So we said ‘do it if it’s quick and there’s not much pain.’ Then we kept going and we never talked about it again ”.
McConaughey shows in Greenlights his most intimate side, but avoid the morbid. Leave out your love relationships prior to your marriage. Nor does it delve into some moments of pain, where the press has stung. “Some of those stories are not for me to tell. The bedrooms have doors for a reason, ”he has his unmistakable southern accent. “If I developed the stories of how I was forced to have sex at 15 or abused when I was 17, those will be the headlines. The book is not about that. That would make my readers voyeurs [mirones] of my story, ”he says.
What he does delve into is the beginning of a successful film career, to which he never felt called. McConaughey was the handsome boy who went out to have fun with his classmates in his pickup in a small Texan town halfway between San Antonio and the Mexican border. All his youth he wanted to be a lawyer and entered the Law School in Austin, the state capital. “Before I was 17 I had only seen two movies. Fantasy or something other than reality was the stuff of my dreams, “he says. In the second year of the degree the path began to be uphill and he decided to leave it to start studying film after reading a self-help book by Og Mandino. He began going to auditions to become an actor, but he still did not see movies. “I started seeing things from Paul Newman after he started acting and people told me it reminded them of him,” he confesses.
One of those comparisons came shortly after he first appeared on a movie screen. He did so in 1992 thanks to Don Phillips, whom he met while drinking vodkas at a hotel in Austin. Phillips was in town producing Dazed & Confused (Move of 76), by Richard Linklater and it took him a few minutes to see Wooderson, a marijuana smoker, who liked to go out with high school girls despite having graduated several years ago, in McConaughey. It was in that role, in the first lines that he said never, that he coined his famous “all right, all right, all right”(Well, well, well), which has been his hallmark for almost 30 years.
It took six years and about 12 movies for McConaughey to receive formal acting classes. He did so in 1998 when Phillips, his friend and golf partner, recommended that he attend to “lower his handicap to near zero ”. Thus he began working with Penny Allen, a veteran actress and acting teacher whom he visited weekly for 19 years. “That was my first acting class,” he says mischievously.
Greenlights it is also an attempt by its author to fight with the idea that everything has been easy for him. “In my rom-com years there was a perception of me, and I think there still is, that McConaughey gets up in the morning and just stands in front of the camera to say ‘tell me, what are we going to do today?’ indicates. However, there are few cases of those like him who could say no to Hollywood and are still alive to tell about it. For 20 months, he rejected scripts in an attempt to turn around and move away from the roles of leading man. On the other side of that green light were Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, Magic Mike, The Wolf of Wall Street and True Detective. The actor himself coined a word for his sabbatical and rebirth: he called it McCoinassance.
McConaughey has become a regular presence on social networks today thanks to the presentation of his book, which he has been promoting for eight months without leaving home. The actor flirts with the idea of running for governor of Texas in 2022, but says he has not made the decision yet. He claims that at his age he “doesn’t give a damn” whether or not people notice if a role has been prepared. I’ve worked just as hard on romantic comedies as on Dallas Buyers Club”, he assures, and adds: “When they tell me that I played myself it is the best compliment they can give me.”
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‘Greenlights’: Matthew McConaughey: “My book is not about how I was abused. That would make my readers ‘voyeurs’ | Summer Magazine