As one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood, Matthew McConaughey’s acting career has been full of ups and downs. “I was told after an audition with Kate Winslet, ‘You pretty much got this role in Titanic.’ Then I didn’t get it. Leonardo DiCaprio got it,” McConaughey confessed to Parade. But despite missing out on one of the most iconic movies ever, McConaughey went on to appear alongside DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. That year, he beat DiCaprio for that role in the Best Actor race at the Oscars: McConaughey earned his first Oscar for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club and delivered an amazing acceptance speech.
Outside of his films, the long-haired star is known for his cool and relaxed attitude. As Architectural Digest explained, his idea of a good time involves hanging out in his “customized Airstream trailer, which he keeps in Malibu.” This mobile home allows McConaughey to explore the country on the road and as he said, “where I get some time with myself.” This time alone is well-earned because in contrast to his easy-going vibe, McConaughey’s life story is full of tragic moments. From his upbringing in Texas to dealing with death, McConaughey has been through dark times.
Are you a fan of his roles in romantic comedies and more serious films? For this actor, life was not always alright, alright, alright. These are the tragic details about Matthew McConaughey.
Matthew McConaughey's painful incidents
Matthew McConaughey’s physical dedication to roles has impacted his body. Both he and Jared Leto dropped a lot of weight in preparation for their Oscar-winning performances in Dallas Buyers Club, and these changes received a great deal of coverage. For McConaughey, he “chewed a lot of ice” on his way to dropping nearly 50 pounds, according to the BBC. “I did it in as healthy a way as I found possible,” he explained, thanks to help from a nutritionist. But previously, McConaughey injured himself while preparing for a film. In his training for The Grackle, “a comedy in which he plays a brawler-for-hire,” McConaughey’s “UFC training” went a little too far, People reported. Photos on X17 surfaced of the actor with bandages on his face.
The physical toll on McConaughey is not just from filming but personal activities too. “I’ve had seventy-eight stitches sewn into my forehead … I’ve had four concussions from falling out of four trees,” the actor explains in his memoir, Greenlights, as quoted by GQ. And how exactly did McConaughey get that scar on his face? “Nephew ran over me with a jet ski,” he admitted to Parade. Fortunately, a doctor fixed the wound on the famous actor’s face. But not the kind of physician you may have expected. “I got sewed up by a veterinarian,” McConaughey revealed.
A bittersweet time abroad for Matthew McConaughey
As a teenager, Matthew McConaughey moved to Australia as an exchange student. During his time on the continent, “he had six different jobs, including a bank teller, a boat mechanic, a photo processor, a barrister’s assistant, a construction worker and an assistant golf pro,” Us Weekly reported. The young man also weighed just 140 pounds, partly because of his “nightly dinners of iceberg lettuce and ketchup,” per Parade. And McConaughey experienced the dangerous wildlife firsthand down under. “The brown snake. When I was here I almost stepped on one. I should have been bitten,” McConaughey revealed to Today. “It went right through my legs and gave me bit of a scare.”
During his stay, McConaughey stayed with the Crocker family on their farm outside of Sydney. He spent five months with the family, attending high school and “helping Mr. Crocker with his horses before going on to stay with Bill and Val Symington for six months before returning to America,” according to The Daily Telegraph. McConaughey returned to Australia to promote the film How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days but learned upsetting news: Mrs. Eileen Crocker had fallen ill. Mr. Crocker said that McConaughey sent his wife “a cheerio” while she was in the hospital, which “made her life so much more comfortable.” She died later in 2003 after McConaughey’s visit to Australia.
How Matthew McConaughey lost a best friend
“Just months after making his feature film debut as Wooderson in 1993’s Dazed and Confused, Matthew McConaughey played Ben Williams in Angels in the Outfield,” Entertainment Weekly summarized. His small role in the star-studded baseball movie was just the beginning, as McConaughey quickly picked up additional roles. After his performance in A Time to Kill, an emotional roller coaster of a courtroom drama, the actor “realized he was resigning himself to a life of never meeting ‘a stranger’ again,” Parade reported. According to McConaughey, he was surprised by the deeply personal details fans learned about the actor. And then they would talk to him about it, “like giving condolences for his dog having cancer, making him wonder, ‘How’d you know I had a dog?'”
As McConaughey explained on a 2006 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show (via Contact Music), he picked up that dog — a Labrador and chow mix named Ms. Hud — from “a pound in Tucson, Arizona” in the ’90s. “We went on a road trip from California to Florida and back. She got diagnosed with cancer in Louisiana on the way east. We got her leg amputated on the way back,” he detailed. After more fun times together, his dog grew sicker and the doctors said more surgery would be needed. McConaughey recounted the heart wrenching moment when he asked, “‘Ms. Hud, do you wanna be a one-legged dog?’ And she looks up and she says, ‘Let me move on, Pop,’ so we let her move on.”
Matthew McConaughey hit 'a rough patch' with his mom
The relationship between Matthew McConaughey and his mother, Kay, has been through highs and lows. In McConaughey’s memoir, as quoted on Red Table Talk, he called his mother “a true baller” and a hard-working woman who “beat two types of cancer.” But the mother and son went through “a rough patch for about eight years right after I got famous,” the actor revealed. After his first lead role in A Time to Kill, McConaughey considered that the moment he became a household name. “I started to have my weekly Sunday call home to call my mother” but the person on the other end of the line was not who he remembered. “Mother wasn’t answering the phone, he explained. “A fan of my fame was answering the phone.”
McConaughey “would share things with her” as he tried to navigate his new life as a celebrity. But the same things that McConaughey would confide to his mother would sometimes “show up in the six o’clock news three days later.” Like one time, McConaughey turned on the TV only to see his mother leading a camera around his childhood home and telling private details about his upbringing. The actor said he had to limit the conversations and he confessed, “I was not able to talk to her as my mom for about eight years.” But once the actor felt stable in his acting career, he told his mother that she was free to tell any story.
No such thing as good enough for Matthew McConaughey
“Matthew McConaughey is considered the ultimate celebrity hippie,” Bustle claimed, based on his previous run-ins with the law and film credits. For his first acting role, McConaughey played “a pothead in Dazed and Confused,” The Guardian recalled. And he played an even bigger stoner in The Beach Bum called Moondog. It’s surprising that in complete contrast to these lazy characters on screen, the real life McConaughey is highly driven. So much so that he’s a perfectionist.
In an interview for The Guardian, the actor opened up about how he feels about his own career. “I’ve never done [a film] that’s lived up to what I imagined it could be,” he confessed. Included in that list is his Oscar-winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club. “I’ve been a part of a bunch of films that I highly respect and really have a love for and think are great,” he clarified. “And I’ve done performances that I’m very happy with.” Even so, none of this work has fulfilled his expectations. “And I don’t think I’ll do one that does,” he said.
In his revealing acceptance speech at the Oscars, the actor explained that when he was 15 years old, he considered his hero as “me in ten years.” Then at 25, McConaughey’s hero was himself ten years in the future. “I’m not going to attain that,” he said. “I know I’m not and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”
Matthew McConaughey's parents were 'like a hurricane'
Matthew McConaughey grew up in Texas in a tough love household. In an interview on The Tim Ferriss Show, the actor remembered the “very physical and oftentimes violent, loud relationship” between his father and mother. As a result, the couple, “divorced twice, married three times.” McConaughey further explained in an interview on the Facebook video series Red Table Talk, “My mom and dad, their relationship was like a hurricane in the Pacific.”
McConaughey also recounted his personal encounters with his parents. In Greenlights (via Red Table Talk), the actor wrote, “When I first threatened to run away from home, my parents packed my bags for me.” And for discipline, McConaughey’s parents never grounded him because his mom claimed, “that would be taking your time away from you. And time is your most valuable asset. So bend your butt over I’m gonna whup your butt.” The actor further clarified on Red Table Talk, “I never got injured. But I do remember the values I used that were instilled in me from butt whuppings.” For example, the second time he was reprimanded for saying “I can’t” instead of “I’m having trouble.” In another incident, McConaughey explained that his father repeatedly asked him whether or not the boy stole pizza. McConaughey “got a backhand” after the fourth time he lied. He remembered “the tears in my dad’s eyes” after the incident not for the stolen pizza but about the young boy lying and disrespecting both of them.
As a teen, Matthew McConaughey was sexually abused
When Matthew McConaughey was just a teenager, he was sexually abused. In his memoir, McConaughey claimed, “I was blackmailed into having sex for the first time when I was 15,” Us Weekly quoted. And as a result, the teenager lived with guilt as a result of the incident. “I was certain I was going to hell for the premarital sex,” McConaughey confessed. “Today, I am merely certain that I hope that’s not the case.”
The actor revealed another shocking incident that happened just a few years after he was blackmailed. McConaughey wrote that he was “molested by a man when I was eighteen while knocked unconscious in the back of a van.” After opening up about these experiences, McConaughey said, “I’ve never felt like a victim.”
When Tamron Hall noted that he doesn’t “detail those events” in the memoir, McConaughey replied, “Ultimately, there’s nothing that I feel is constructive about the details.” He went on to say that he worried that the information would just become tabloid fodder. “I feel like those details, unless I had a really good constructive way that I saw it that could be relatable to other people, I felt like those details could have just been grabbed and reported for voyeurism,” he explained. He added that while he doesn’t identify as a victim, he was “victimized in those two situations.”
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.
When a fun night landed Matthew McConaughey in jail
With Matthew McConaughey’s increasing fame in the second half of the ’90s, he “was becoming a regular in the tabloids and gossip columns,” according to Esquire. Or as the actor explained of that period, he was “wobbly for a while.” The press followed McConaughey and his reputation “for partying, walking the beach shirtless, dating starlets, and having a good time.” But McConaughey’s party-hard ways landed him in hot water right before the new millennium.
In October 1999, police arrived at McConaughey’s home in Austin, Texas “after receiving a complaint of loud music. Police saw him through a window naked and playing drums and another man dancing and clapping,” The Washington Post reported. Or as the actor remembered in his memoir, “while I was banging away in my bliss, two Austin policemen also thought it was time to barge into my house unannounced, wrestle me to the ground with nightsticks, handcuff me and pin me to the floor,” Yahoo! quoted. The police arrested the actor — who was 29 at the time — around 3 a.m. “on suspicion of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting transportation.” Both drug charges were dropped and McConaughey only spent that one night in jail. The actor told Parade that he kept the drums that were partly responsible for the arrest. Plus, he even “collects drums from all his travels and takes one to every set he works on.”
Matthew McConaughey's devastating loss
In an interview for People, the actor remembered his childhood interactions with his father. “In having to say, ‘Yes Sir,’ to my father and his friends. And having to shake their hands and look them in the eye … I knew it was about respect for elders,” he recalled. “But one common denominator in my mind was, ‘Oh, it’s because they’re fathers.'” This stuck with McConaughey, who is now a dad.
As McConaughey navigated his life, he remembered the comfort in having his father around. “Oh, if I really get in a bind, I still got Dad. I still got pop. He’s my safety net,” he said on The Tim Ferriss Show. In his memoir, as quoted by Vanity Fair, McConaughey vividly remembered the moment his mother told him his dad died. “My knees buckled. I couldn’t believe it. He was my dad.” McConaughey wrote. The actor explained that the tragic event ultimately helped him become a better person. “I would have not put myself to task and held myself and called myself to arms to man up and be more honest with myself and look at the world more honestly, and have more courage if he had not passed on, because I would have had him as a crutch,” he said on The Tim Ferriss Show. And in his 2014 Oscars acceptance speech, McConaughey spoke fondly of his father. “To you dad, you taught me what it means to be a man,” he said.
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