Matthew McConaughey on his re­vi­talised ca­reer and the woman be­hind his hap­pi­ness

Go­ing from Hol­ly­wood light­weight to se­ri­ous ac­tor hasn’t just been about great roles. Meet­ing model wife Camila and start­ing a fam­ily are all part of Matthew McConaughey’s won­der­ful new world, he tells Melissa Field.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

My life has been a pretty crazy ride so far,” con­cedes Os­car-win­ning ac­tor Matthew McConaughey. He’s not wrong. Af­ter a pro­ducer spot­ted the then Austin Col­lege (Texas) stu­dent in a bar in the early

1990s and of­fered him his break­through role in a 1992 youth com­edy, Dazed and Con­fused, Matthew has worked al­most con­tin­u­ously in front of the cam­era.

Be­fore then, residents of a quiet town called Warn­er­vale in New South Wales, Australia, who were vis­it­ing a lo­cal bank in the late 1980s, could have been cashing their cheques with an Os­car­win­ning A-lis­ter of the fu­ture.

“I lived in Australia for a year when I was two weeks out of high school and worked 11 dif­fer­ent odd jobs, in­clud­ing as an ANZ bank teller,” Matthew McConaughey tells The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly.

Texas na­tive Matthew, now 47, came to Australia in 1988 on a Ro­tary ex­change pro­gramme be­fore go­ing on to be­come one of Hol­ly­wood’s most ver­sa­tile and gifted ac­tors.

An early hint at what Matthew was ca­pa­ble of came in 1999’s crit­i­cally well-re­ceived EDtv – but an un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent in­volv­ing his ar­rest fol­low­ing some naked bongo drums play­ing, com­bined with a slew of roles in for­get­table rom-coms in­clud­ing The Wed­ding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Fool’s Gold, al­most saw Matthew con­signed to the light­weight list.

Then, in more re­cent years, came the ca­reer “McCon­nais­sance”, as it’s been dubbed, in which he has shone in dra­matic roles, in­clud­ing The Lin­coln Lawyer, The Wolf of Wall Street and Dal­las Buy­ers Club, which won him the 2013 Os­car for Best Ac­tor in a Lead­ing Role.

Matthew ac­knowl­edges but plays down the di­rec­tional change his ca­reer un­der­took, say­ing: “I just shifted to an­other gear.”

But surely it can’t be a co­in­ci­dence his ca­reer resur­gence came at the same time as he found hap­pi­ness and con­tent­ment in his per­sonal life? Matthew makes no se­cret of the fact that when he met his now wife, Brazil­ian model and TV pre­sen­ter Camila Alves, in a bar in 2006, it was love at first sight. Ear­lier this year he re­called the mo­ment. “Out of the cor­ner of my eye, this aqua-green fig­ure went float­ing across the frame in front of me. I didn’t say ‘Who is that?’ but ‘What is that?’ Then, in my head [I thought], ‘This is not the kind of woman you call over across the room, McConaughey. Get your ass out of your chair and go get her.’ Which I did.”

The pair wed on June 9, 2012, and have three chil­dren to­gether: sons Levi, eight, and Livingston, four, and daugh­ter Vida, seven. With his re­fresh­ing and trade­mark hon­esty, Matthew re­cently ex­plained why Camila is the only woman for him. “I have been very faith­ful with my wife,” he re­vealed. “Very self­ishly. I like be­ing un­der her spell and I don’t want to break that.”

In his Texan drawl, Matthew shares more with The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly about his per­sonal life. “With three kids, it’s chaos,” he says. “But Camila and I are a team and we run a pretty tight ship. We pick each other up, love one an­other and have a good time – we re­spect our­selves and each other.”

By Hol­ly­wood stan­dards, the longevity of their re­la­tion­ship is im­pres­sive – and un­com­mon – but the cou­ple works at it.

“Wher­ever I’m work­ing, fam­ily al­ways comes with me,” says Matthew. “For me, travel is the great ed­u­ca­tor and Camila and I want our kids to ex­pe­ri­ence as much cul­ture and dif­fer­ent ways of life as pos­si­ble. So wher­ever I go, they go. We get a house, we live like lo­cals but the kids keep on track with their Amer­i­can school­ing while we’re away too. It works for us.”

De­spite the priv­i­leges af­forded his fam­ily thanks to the $15 to $20 mil­lion he can com­mand per film these days, Matthew is de­ter­mined not to raise spoilt chil­dren.“I want my kids to have a work ethic,” he says. “My old­est two, they’ve worked ca­ter­ing on set. I said to them, ‘If you want to do half a day dur­ing the week you can and you’ll get paid – but you’ve got to do a good job.’ I want them to ap­pre­ci­ate that to get to the top you have to work your way up and work hard.”

It’s an ethos in­stilled in him grow­ing up in Uvalde, Texas, by late fa­ther James, who ran an oil pipe sup­ply busi­ness, and for­mer kinder­garten teacher mother Kay, whom Matthew is de­voted to. He men­tioned her dur­ing his Os­car ac­cep­tance speech: “She taught me and my two brothers – de­manded – we re­spect our­selves. Thank you for that, Mama,” he said. Matthew’s also close to brothers Michael and Pat.

“My folks brought me and my brothers up to be hon­est and work hard, and I want my kids to have that up­bring­ing. I’m do­ing my best to hand that to them.”

It was that same work hard (and play hard) no­tion that brought him to Australia as a teenager in 1988.

“As well as the bank I did a bunch of jobs while I was there, in­clud­ing be­ing a boat ser­vice­man, a bar­ris­ter’s as­sis­tant dur­ing a trial and a car­pen­ter. I lived with four great fam­i­lies. I went to the beach.

It was one of the most fun and im­por­tant years of my life,” he says.

Matthew be­lieves there’s not much dif­fer­ence be­tween Tex­ans and Aus­tralians. “We are of a sim­i­lar ilk, I find,” he says. “They are two rugged places and are both pretty no-frills too. If some­body thinks they’re hot shit, Tex­ans and Aus­tralians will bring them back down to earth pretty darn quickly.”

While he was in Australia, Matthew picked up the lingo too. “I love that con­trac­tion you guys do,” he says. “Short­en­ing ‘af­ter­noon’ to ‘arvo’ makes per­fect sense to me!”

Gold, which opens in New Zealand on Fe­bru­ary 9, is loosely based on the true story of the largest gold mine find in his­tory – and the ad­ven­tur­ers who hoped to make a for­tune from the dis­cov­ery. Matthew gained a con­sid­er­able paunch and lost his hair­line to play the schem­ing, down-on-his-luck prospec­tor, Kenny Wells.

“I lost a bunch of weight for Dal­las Buy­ers Club but I’ve never trans­formed my­self in the way that I have to play Kenny,” says Matthew. “For eight months I gave my­self per­mis­sion to eat all the cheese­burg­ers and drink all the beer. It was not a chore! I’ve never gone above 190lbs [86kg] – so to go up to 217lbs [98kg] for this role was a ride.

“Is Kenny an at­trac­tive char­ac­ter? No. But as soon as I read the script I was like, ‘I’m the only guy who can play this role.’”

In­deed, Matthew to­tally im­merses him­self in the role, and although he was left off the Golden Globes nom­i­na­tion list for his por­trayal of Kenny Wells, it’s an­other in­cred­i­bly watch­able ad­di­tion to the “McCon­nais­sance” ros­ter. He has also cho­sen to make some up­com­ing films his kids can ac­tu­ally see, too. “That’s why I did [an­i­mated films] Sing and Kubo and the

Two Strings. I like to mix it up.”

With a jam-packed sched­ule that in­cludes his Just Keep Livin youth health foun­da­tion – can Australia’s Warn­er­vale ex­pect a visit from their most fa­mous for­mer ex­change stu­dent any time soon?

“I’d love to come back to Australia with my fam­ily,” he says. “Hope­fully I’ll have an­other job there soon. It would be so great to get there for a while, get a house and do it right. I’d love to show my kids where I spent my time Down Un­der – that ab­so­lutely would be all right by me.”

I was like, ‘I’m the only guy who can play this role.’

The 2013 Os­car proved Matthew McConaughey was a se­ri­ous dra­matic ac­tor.

A trans­formed Matthew in Gold (left) and with Camila and their chil­dren at the Sing premiere in Los An­ge­les last De­cem­ber.

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