The 50-year-old actor was born in Texas to James McConaughey and Mary Kathlene McCabe in 1969.
“I am the youngest brother of three and the son of parents who were twice divorced and thrice married, to each other,” McConaughey wrote in his memoir, released on Tuesday, October 20. “My dad wasn’t there the day I was born. He called my mom and said, ‘Only thing I have to say is if it’s a boy, don’t name him Kelly.’”
After a complicated childhood (more on that later), McConaughey got his big break in the 1993 film Dazed and Confused.
“Over the years I’ve come to call the kind of line in a script that can send me flying a ‘launchpad’ line,” he recalled. “This script was for Dazed and Confused. The line that sent me into flight was: ‘That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.’”
He went on to make a name for himself starring in a series of romantic comedies, including 2001’s The Wedding Planner, 2003’s How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 2006’s Failure to Launch, 2008’s Fool’s Gold and 2009’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
“The romantic comedies remained my only consistent box office hits, which made them my only consistent incoming offers,” he wrote. “For me personally, I enjoyed being able to give people a nitty-minute breezy romantic getaway from the stress of their lives where they didn’t have to think about anything, just watch the boy chase the girl, fall down, then get up and finally get her. I had taken the baton from Hugh Grant, and I ran with it.”
While McConaughey wrote that he was “never too bothered” by the “consistent critical write-offs” of his work, he eventually grew tired of filming rom-coms.
“I enjoyed making romantic comedies, and their paychecks rented the houses on the beach I ran shirtless on. Getting relative with this inevitability, no way was this working-class country boy going to be condescending about the opportunities they gave me, no matter how categorized they were,” he wrote, later revealing that he turned down $14.5 million to make a rom-com in 2010. “I declined the offer. If I couldn’t do what I wanted, I wasn’t going to do what I didn’t, no matter the price.”
Scroll through for the biggest takeaways from Greenlights, and pick up a copy in bookstores now for more: