Matthew McConaughey, the youngest of three boys, was born in Uvalde, Texas; he
has some Irish ancestry, where his surname originates. McConaughey had what he
describes as a conservative Christian upbringing. His late father, James Donald
McConaughey, ran a Texaco gas station, worked as a truck driver, and was a
former professional football player (for the Green Bay Packers, drafted in
1953). His mother, Mary Kathlene "Kay" McCabe, was a substitute schoolteacher.
His parents divorced and re-married several times (to each other), in what he
describes as a "loving, but unstable relationship".
McConaughey moved to Longview, Texas in 1980 and, after graduating from Longview High School in 1988, where he was voted the most handsome, Matthew lived briefly in Australia. In 1993, he studied film direction at the University of Texas at Austin and was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, graduating in 1993.
Matthew McConaughey got his start working in television commercials and was cast in his first role in the film Dazed and Confused (1993), after meeting director Richard Linklater at the University of Texas at Austin. After appearing in some additional small parts in Angels in the Outfield, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Boys on the Side, and the television series Unsolved Mysteries, McConaughey's big break came as the lawyer "Jake Brigance" in the 1996 film A Time to Kill, based on the John Grisham novel of the same name. In 1997, McConaughey won an MTV Movie Award for best breakthrough performance for the role. He has also twice been nominated for a Blockbuster Entertainment Award.
Matthew McConaughey gained renown and was cast in leading roles in many more movies: Contact, Amistad, The Newton Boys, Edtv, and U-571. By the early 2000s, he was frequently cast in romantic comedies, including The Wedding Planner and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, both of which were successful at the box office. During this time period, he appeared in the low-budget film, TipToes, a drama where he played a firefighter opposite Kate Beckinsale.
Matthew McConaughey starred in the feature film, Sahara (budgeted at $130 million), along with Steve Zahn and Penélope Cruz. Prior to the release of the movie, he promoted it by repeating some trips he took in the late 1990s, including sailing down the Amazon River and trekking to Mali. In 2005, People Magazine named him their "S--iest Man Alive". In 2006, he co-starred with Sarah Jessica Parker in the romantic comedy, Failure to Launch, which was a success at the box office.
On October 25, 1999, Matthew McConaughey was arrested at his home in Austin, Texas; the charges included possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. The police were responding at 2:37 a.m. to a disturbance call after a neighbor complained of loud music from the house next-door. They arrived to "easily hear very loud music," bongo drum playing and clapping coming from McConaughey's residence. According to official police reports, McConaughey was found dancing around naked and playing bongo drums with a friend, actor Cole Hauser, ironically a co-actor in Dazed and Confused (1993). The drug charges were dropped, but McConaughey pled guilty for violating the city's noise ordinance and paid a USD $50 fine.
An avid University of Texas at Austin football fan, Matthew McConaughey is often seen at Longhorn games. In addition to his home in Austin, he also owns a 1,600 acre ranch in Texas and is currently dating actress Penelope Cruz; the two have been together since 2004, soon after Cruz broke up with Tom Cruise in January 2004.
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