Matthew McConaughey began his acting career being touted as Hollywood’s Next Big Thing, then fell into a lull of uninspiring roles before making a mid-career turnaround into respectability.
McConaughey is the third of three brothers, born to a mother who was a former kindergarten teacher and writer and to a father who ran an oil pipe supply company after a brief career in professional football.
McConaughey attended college at the University of Texas at Austin where he studied film with an eventual plan to attend law school. But a conversation with a local casting director led to his first acting job in Richard Linklater’s 1993 comedy “Dazed and Confused.” His role in that film, as a party boy who can’t leave high school behind, gave birth to the actor’s most famous catchphrase, “All right, all right, all right.”
He traveled to Los Angeles in 1993 and landed an agent at William Morris just five days after arriving. He subsequently landed bit roles in several films, but nothing classified as a breakout. Then he caught a huge break when director Joel Schumacher decided to make him the lead in his 1996 adaptation of John Grisham’s novel, “A Time to Kill.”
The film was a summer blockbuster and McConaughey became an immediate star, with his face on the cover of Vanity Fair, a spot usually reserved for much more established performers.
Of McConaughey, Schumacher told The Times in 1996, “After a long period in which most of the male movie actors decided they'd be Seattle-grunge, stocking cap, goateed, chain-smoking, hotel-room smashing posers, his intelligence and integrity come through. Still, there's also a bit of the bad boy in Matthew. At first glance, you think he's every mother's dream. At second glance, you'd lock your daughter up."
McConaughey followed up with a series of films that were respectable without becoming huge hits, including Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad” and Ron Howard’s “EdTV.” He also starred alongside Jodie Foster in the science fiction hit “Contact.”
Then he began to star in a series of romantic comedies that were mostly notable for his penchant for losing his shirt at a moment’s notice. “The Wedding Planner,” “Failure to Launch,” “Fool’s Gold” and “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” did nothing to raise McConaughey’s critical esteem.
In 2011, McConaughey began a career turn-around through a series of acclaimed performances in the films “Killer Joe” and “Magic Mike.” He lost a significant amount of weight for his role as real-life AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in the film “Dallas Buyers Club.” The film earned McConaughey a series of acting awards including the Oscar for best actor.
McConaughey also drew accolades for his role in the HBO mystery series “True Detective,” the Martin Scorsese film “Wolf of Wall Street” and the Christopher Nolan science fiction epic “Interstellar.”
In 2012, McConaughey married his longtime girlfriend, model Camila Alves. Together, the couple have three children.
Patrick Kevin Day for the Los Angeles Times