Matthew McConaughey has been no stranger to reinvention over the course of his career. From “Dazed and Confused” burnout to rom-com heartthrob to prestige dramatic actor to New York Times-bestselling author, the one near-constant in the Oscar winner’s 30 years of work has been his A-list level of fame and a well-worn familiarity with paparazzi, tabloids and the spotlight.
Still, if the last several years have been any indication, McConaughey has learned to open up parts of himself as a genuine, vulnerable and apparently approachable person on social media and in his pair of books, the 2020 memoir “Greenlights” and his newly published children’s release, “Just Because.” Sitting with the “Smartless” podcast’s Sean Hayes, Will Arnett and Jason Bateman in an interview published Monday, the actor mined why and how he decided to foster that relationship with the public rather than shift away from it.
Explaining that he tried to be more mysterious and inaccessible for a “very short amount of time,” McConaughey said he found himself feeling like that was more trouble than it was worth. “I was like, ‘Bullsh-t, this is too much work!’” he said.
Cohost Hayes first broached the subject with McConaughey, who joined the podcast for the second time in promotion of “Just Because.” Praising the actor for being “so outgoing” and “so willing to share every thought and feeling now,” Hayes wondered if McConaughey could pinpoint when in his journey to becoming “Matthew McConaughey as we know him” did he decide to let some of those walls down.
“What was the switch that made you go, ‘You know what? F–k it. I’m not going to be mysterious anymore, I’m not going to do this anymore. I’m just going to share who I am,’” Hayes asked.
“Look, I mean, I’m still measured about what I share. I just have, my mind’s quicker to notice as it’s coming out of my mouth — ooh, I could say something right now that I know would be in bold print, and as it’s coming out of my mouth, I catch myself and go: Let me dovetail that a hair,” McConaughey explained. “Now, that took years of getting there.”
The actor then admitted that he does see value in living life shrouded in inaccessible mystery and for movie stars “to not be around until that Friday night when your movie comes out.”
“Is there value to having two tinted black suburbans when you leave and the paparazzi follow because they don’t know which one you’re in and you sneak in the back and you’re not seen? Yes. Is there value to wearing the same thing out every single day so every paparazzi shot looks like it was the same day so that it will lose value? Yes. Is there value to go: Where is he? I don’t know where they are! I can only go spend time with them when they come out in a movie in the theater. Yes,” McConaughey said. “I just tried that for a little bit, very short amount of time. I was like, bulls-t, this is too much work!”
“I was going to say, it sounds exhausting,” Hayes said.
The actor then recounted an experience he had when his son was four years old. They were staying in the Greenwich Hotel in Manhattan and he had to decide whether to hole up inside the hotel to avoid paparazzis’ attention or to take his son out to see his first firetruck, which had pulled up on their block.
“You’ve got to see the firetruck,” McConaughey said. “I’ve chosen to say: Let me go on with my life. Let me make choices that make my life first before I’m going to curtail those to, like, ‘Oh, well, I want to be obscure.’”
Listen to the full “Smartless” podcast episode in the embed below.