State of Mind
"You have certain things that you think about when you set out to make a life for yourself. You have your family name, for one. And if you're an American, you've got your patriotism, that's the reason you have to do things right. Another one is 'under God,' whatever that means to you. Well, Texas is the only state where you've got a fourth thing slapping you on the ass, saying 'Do right.' It's a state of mind. You can't explain it." Matthew McConaughey
Texas born actor and producer Matthew McConaughey climbed to the top while starring as Jake Tyler Brigance in an adaptation of John Grisham's novel, A Time to Kill, in 1996 (costarring Sandra Bullock). The actor, who was first noticed playing Wooderson in Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused (1993), later gained more recognition acting in such films as John Sayles' Lone Star (1996), Steven Spielberg's Amistad (1997), and The Wedding Planner (2001, opposite Jennifer Lopez). More recently, McConaughey played the lead role of treasure hunter Dirk Pitt in the action-adventure film Sahara, in which he teamed up with girlfriend Penelope Cruz.
The handsome actor's romantic life has been linked to such Hollywood beauties as A Time to Kill costar Sandra Bullock (born on July 26, 1964), Ashley Judd (born on April 19, 1968), and Patricia Arquette (born on April 8, 1968). During the filming of Sahara (2005), McConaughey met and fell in love with Tom Cruise's ex-girlfriend, Spanish actress Penelope Cruz. McConaughey was rumored to have had proposed to Penelope in February 2005. The actress indicated that she would agree to marry McConaughey and wanted to have a baby with him. She said, "Me and Matthew will be apart for four months while I go to Europe. But when I'm back it would be really nice if we could be together forever. It would be hard keeping up our nomad life with a baby. We don't like staying in one place for too long. But it might work."
Childhood and Family:
In Uvalde, Texas, Matthew David McConaughey was born on November 4, 1969. His father, Jim McConaughey, was a former football player for the Green Bay Packers and later became an oil businessman (died in August 1992 of heart attack). His mother, Kay McConaughey, was a substitute teacher. The youngest son of the family, Matthew has two older brothers, Michael McConaughey (a.k.a. Rooster McConaughey, actor and salesman, born 1953) and Pat McConaughey (salesman, born 1962).
Matthew grew up in Longview, Texas, where he attended a local High School and was named "Most Handsome" by his senior class. After his graduation in 1988, sports fanatic Matthew wandered around Australia for a year. He finally relocated to his homeland and attended college at the University of Texas in Austin, in which he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity.
Formerly being responsible for a few student films and acting in local commercials, Matthew McConaughey found professional film work directing the 12-minute Chicano Chariots (1992). His career path opened more when he accidentally met casting director and producer Don Phillips in a bar. After a serious conversation, Phillips introduced McConaughey to film director Richard Linklater, who handed him the role of lovable David Wooderson in the drama-comedy film, Dazed and Confused (1993, alongside Jason London and Rory Cochrane).
Following his acting debut, McConaughey was offered roles in such films as William Dear's fantasy, Angels in the Outfield (1994), and played brutal murderer Vilmer in Kim Henkel's horror-comedy, The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994, costarring Renee Zellweger). He also played roles in the 1995 films Submission, Judgement, and portrayed Drew Barrymore's cop boyfriend in Herbert Ross' drama-comedy Boys on the Side (also with Whoopi Goldberg and Mary-Louise Parker).
1996 was probably McConaughey's breakout year. He received critical acclaim for portraying naive young attorney Jake Brigance, in the big screen version of John Grisham's best-selling first novel, the hit thriller, A Time to Kill (opposite Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey). His brilliant acting work netted him an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance. Meanwhile, director John Sayles cast him to star as Buddy Deeds in his acclaimed crime-drama Lone Star.
In the rest of the 1990s, McConaughey added to his acting resume such films as Glory Daze (1996, starring Ben Affleck), Larger Than Life (1996), Carl Sagan's novel-based Contact (1997, with Jodie Foster), Claude Stanush' book adaptation, The Newton Boys (1998, costarring Ethan Hawke), and EdTV (1999, alongside Elizabeth Hurley). He also united with Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne, and Anthony Hopkins in Steven Spielberg's 1839 African revolution film, Amistad (1997, playing property lawyer Baldwin). Additionally, McConaughey set up his own production company, JKL (stands for Just Keep Living).
Entering the 2000s, McConaughey played Officer Lt. Tyler in Jonathan Mostow's war drama U-571 (2000), costarred with Jennifer Lopez in Adam Shankman's popular romantic comedy The Wedding Planner (2001), and starred as Troy in Jill Sprecher's Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2002). McConaughey was subsequently seen with Christian Bale in Rob Bowman's fantasy-thriller Reign of Fire (2002, played warrior and dragon hunter Denton Van Zan), with Bill Paxton in his directed thriller Frailty (2002), and with Kate Hudson in the screen version of Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long's book, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003).
After portraying Gary Oldman's brother in Matthew Bright's romance-comedy Tiptoes (2004, also with Kate Beckinsale), McConaughey recently starred as treasure hunter Dirk Pitt in Breck Eisner's adaptation of Clive Cussler's novel, the action-adventure Sahara (2005). In the film, McConaughey shared the screen with off-screen girlfriend Penelope Cruz (character Doctor Eva Rojas) and actor Steve Zahn (playing McConaughey's sidekick Al Giordino). Being asked about the film, McConaughey commented, "I'm honored to be screening 'Sahara' on the Intrepid for the soldiers of the 77th RRC. These men and women do so much for us. A lot of them are just back from the Middle East, and I'm glad I could find a way to give back. It's going to be a very cool day."
McConaughey's film's resume will be getting longer in the next years. A string of upcoming films are waiting, including Tom Dey's romance-comedy Failure to Launch (opposite Sarah Jessica Parker), Don Cheadle's adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel Tishomingo Blues, and D.J. Caruso's drama-comedy 2 for the Money (with Al Pacino). He is also scheduled to work in S.R. Bindler's thriller The Loop (with Penelope Cruz), the romantic comedy Dear Deliah, and Phil Joanou's crime-action Hammer Down.
"Be the lean horse for the long ride. I figure I am in the third round of a 15 round fight." Matthew McConaughey.
MTV Movie: Best Breakthrough Performance, A Time To Kill, 1997
Lone Star Film & Television: Rising Star Actor, 1997