Matthew McConaughey at the Mann's Village Theater in Westwood, California / Actor Matthew McConaughey attends the "Sing" premiere during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.
im Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images/ George Pimentel/WireImage

Matthew McConaughey Then & Now: From 'Dazed & Confused' to Hollywood Icon

I think we can all agree when I say that Matthew McConaughey is one of Hollywood's favorite heartthrobs. The Texas native has been acting for more than 20 years and, by the looks of it, he's not stopping anytime soon. From Dazed and Confused to The Wolf of Wallstreet to True Detective, the actor has dipped his toes in every genre.

McConaughey didn't start acting until he was around 20 years old, but apparently, his family helped him prepare for stardom. The actor grew up in Uvalde, Texas to Jim and Mary Kathleen McConaughey. He has multiple times credited his mother for giving him the confidence he needed in order to become successful after. Speaking in the Wall Street Journal, he stated, "She'd say, 'You don't walk into a room like you want to buy the place. You walk in like you own it."

The actor has several Golden Globe Awards and Prime Time Emmy Awards under his belt, but have you ever wondered how it started? Let's take a look at how the Hollywood heartthrob began his career. Alright, Alright, Alright.

Dazed and Confused

1993 was definitely one of McConaughey's best years since this is when he entered the acting world. His very first role was as Wooderson in the Hollywood hit Dazed and Confused. The actor starred alongside Ben Affleck, Cole Hauser, Adam Goldberg, Jason London, Milla Jovovich and more.

A Time to Kill

Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California

Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Three years after Dazed and Confused, the actor went on to play the lead role of a lawyer in A Time to Kill, for which he successfully won the MTV movie award for Best Breakthrough Performance. The film also stars Hollywood legends Sandra Bullock and Samuel L Jackson, received positive reviews and made 152 million dollars at the worldwide box office. In 1997, he went on to play a romantic scientist alongside Jodie Foster in Contact.


Photo by Francois Duhamel/Sygma via Getty Images

By 1998 he was acting with other Hollywood stars, including Ethan Hawke and Vicent D'Onofrio in The Newton Boys. The following year he acted in EDtv which was directed by Ron Howard and also starred Woody Harrelson, Jenna Elfman, Ellen DeGeneres, Clint Howard, Elizabeth Hurley, Dennis Hopper and more.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey during Lavalife's New York Sreening of Paramount Pictures' How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days at The Ziegfeld Theater in New York City, New York, United States.

Jim Spellman/WireImage

By 2000, the actor was frequently cast in several romantic comedies, starting off with The Wedding Planner in 2001. The film also starred Jennifer Lopez and became a staple for McConaughey, opening a new door for his acting career. He had now become a Hollywood favorite for directors who saw how well he could connect with female co-stars. In 2004, the actor went on to portray Ben in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days alongside actress Kate Hudson.

People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive

Matthew McConaughey during Matthew McConaughey Hosts the New York City Screening of Sahara at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, New York, United States.

Photo by Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic

2005 was pretty exciting for the actor — he's a Hollywood a-lister and was even named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive that year. That same year he also starred in Sahara, which grossed $119 million on a $130 million dollar budget. The film also starred Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz.

We Are... Marshall

 Actors David Strathairn (L) and Matthew McConaughey talk during filming of the upcoming film "We Are... Marshall" on the Marshall University campus April 21, 2006 in Huntington, West Virginia. The movie is the story of the recovery that followed the 1970 Marshall University football team plane crash that killed 75 people. McConaughey stars as Jack Lengyel, who coached the Thundering Herd football team for four years after the crash.

Photo by Jeff Gentner/Getty Images

Alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, the actor starred in the romantic comedy Failure to Launch. That same year he starred in a serious role in We Are...Marshall, appearing as a head football coach of Marshall University who attempts to rebuild a program after a plane crash that killed the majority of the team and the other coaching staff.

Tropic Thunder

Actors Alexis Dziena, Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Kevin Hart and Malcolm-Jamal Warner attend the After Party of Fool's Gold at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on January 30, 2008 in Hollywood, California.

Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage

In 2008, the actor went on to reunite once more with Hudson, starring in Fool's Gold. Replacing Owen Wilson, the actor went on to star in Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder. The film also had quite a star-studded cast, including Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Cruise, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Nick Nolte and Jay Baruchel. Downy was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award, an Academy Award, and he and Cruise received a Golden Globe award for their work.

From Romance to Drama

Actor Matthew McConaughey and girlfriend Camila Alves celebrate after the Texas Longhorns defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Game on January 5, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The following year, McConaughey went to star alongside Jennifer Garner in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. After this film, McConaughey decided to take a hiatus from romantic comedies. The actor believed that doing romantic comedies caused him to be typecast for roles, seeking to do more dramatic work in the future.

"Only in hindsight might it be easy to say something is inevitable. Did I get frustrated? I gotta feel like, for a few years, I was doing something that I liked to do with romantic and action comedies," McConaughey told Deadline about his shift. "But believe me, I noticed there were other things that were not coming in. And if they were coming in, it was in an independent form with a much smaller paycheck, and nobody really wanting to get behind them. I am not going to say it bothered me. It was more like, there were other things I wanted to do, and it became clear I had to make changes if I wanted to do them."

Lincoln Lawyer + Magic Mike

Actors Adam Rodriguez, Alex Pettyfer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Matt Bomer, Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum arrive at the closing night gala premiere of "Magic Mike" at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festiva held at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Moving on to more dramatic films, in 2011, he went to star in the American thriller The Lincoln Lawyer, which was a film adapted from the novel of the same title by Michael Connelly. The actor portrayed lawyer Mickey Haller, starring opposite Marisa Tomei, Josh Lucas, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy and Bryan Cranston.

In 2012, the actor starred alongside Channing Tatum in the fan-favorite Magic Mike. That same year the actor was officially invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science.

Romance With Wife Camila

Designer Camila Alves (L) and actor Matthew McConaughey arrives at the U.S. Premiere of "Killer Joe" during the 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at the Paramount Theatre on March 10, 2012 in Austin, Texas.

Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

After dating for more than five years, McConaughey married Camila Alves on June 9, 2012, in Austin, Texas, where they currently reside. The couple originally met in 2006 and became engaged on December 25, 2011. Together the couple has three children, 13-year-old Levi, 12-year-old Vida and 9-year-old Livingston.

Prior to meeting his future wife, the actor had repeatedly stated in several interviews that he wasn't sure he was going to find the one.

"I was like, 'Wait, just wait. Be yourself. She'll come if she's supposed to come. And if she doesn't, that's okay, you're still a good man, McConaughey," he told People. "That's when she showed up, and she moved right to left in front of my eyes across that club. It was as if she was floating. And I did not say, 'Who is that?' I said, 'What is that?' And then introduced myself."

"Since that evening I have not wanted to spend time with any other woman, definitely have not wanted to sleep with anyone else," he continued. "I've not wanted to have children with anyone else other than her. We have a love that we never question."

Dallas Buyers Club

Actors Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto arrive at the "Dallas Buyers Club" Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival held at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 7, 2013 in Toronto, Canada.

George Pimentel/WireImage

Coming in strong, in 2013 the actor went on to portray Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. The actor portrayed a rodeo rider who has AIDS and struggles to get treatment, which required McConaughey to lose nearly 50 pounds. For his performance, McConaughey received several acting awards, including the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, the Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor-Drama.

That same year he went on to star in The Wolf of Wall Street alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. The movie was based on Jordan Belfort's 2007 memoir, recounting his career as a stockbroker. The film was a commercial success, grossing $392 million and becoming Martin Scorsese's highest-grossing film.

True Detective

 Actor Matthew McConaughey and wife model Camila Alves McConaughey arrive at the 25th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala at Palm Springs Convention Center on January 4, 2014 in Palm Springs, California.


Due to his work in film, McConaughey was one of TIME magazine's Most Influential People in the World and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame. This year the actor also decided to dive into the TV world, partnering with Woody Harrelson for the HBO drama True Detective. For his work portraying Rust Cohle, the actor won the Critics Choice Television Award for best actor in a drama series. He was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series, and the Golden Globe Award for best actor- miniseries or television film. True Detective marked the actor's first Oscar win.

The actor also went on to star in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, playing an astronaut and widowed father. Other actors in the film included Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck and Mackenzie Foy.

Camila Alves McConaughey and Matthew McConaughey attend HBO's Post 2014 Golden Globe Awards Party at Circa 55 Restaurant on January 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Mike Windle/Getty Images

That same year, the actor partnered with Lincoln Motor Company signing a multi-year collaboration for an ad campaign. The commercials usually feature McConaughey as a storyteller driving around in Lincoln's MKC crossover. The addition to the Lincoln family was a success after sales increased by 25 percent one month after the ad initially aired. The actor has continued to work for Lincoln, endorsing several other vehicles including the MKZ Sedan, MKX, Nautilus and Aviator SUV.

Sea of Trees

Bryce Dallas Howard and Matthew McConaughey attend TWC-Dimension with Popular Mechanics, The Palm Court & Wild Turkey Bourbon Host the Premiere of "Gold" at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on January 17, 2017 in New York City.

Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

In 2015, the actor went on to star in the Sea of Trees with Ken Watanabe. The following year he starred in two films — Gold and the Free State of Jones. Fun fact, the actor actually had to put on 47 pounds to play a businessman and explorer in the film Gold.

Wild Turkey

Actor Matthew McConaughey attends the "Sing" premiere during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

George Pimentel/WireImage

In 2016, the actor was hired as a creative director and spokesman for Wild Turkey's latest campaign. McConaughey has helped the company by starring in TV commercials in order to introduce the world to Wild Turkey.

"Matthew McConaughey has been ingrained in the Wild Turkey brand as creative director for several years now," stated Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO at Campari Group, owner of Wild Turkey. "As a lover of bourbon, and an integral part of the team, it was a natural next step for Matthew to partner with Eddie to create a new product for Wild Turkey. We are proud of the work they've done and have great expectations for this amazing new whiskey."

The Dark Tower

Idris Elba (L) and Matthew McConaughey attend "The Dark Tower" photocall at the Whitby Hotel on July 30, 2017 in New York City.

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

In 2017, the actor starred as Walter Paddock in Stephen King's The Dark Tower.


 Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey and Diane Lane attend the "Serenity" New York Screening at Museum of Modern Art on January 23, 2019 in New York City.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Partnering up with Anne Hathaway and Diane Lane, he went on to star in the erotic thriller Serenity. The film follows a fishing boat captain who is approached by his ex-wife in order to murder her new abusive husband. In 2019, he starred in The Beach Bum, which was described as a stoner comedy film. The film also starred Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg, Martin Lawrence, Jimmy Buffett and Zac Effron. The film initially premiered at South by Southwest and was later released in theaters by Neon. It received mixed reviews from critics, but McConaughey's performances received praise worldwide.

The actor also went on to appear in Guy Ritchie's The Gentlemen, portraying Mickey Pearson. The film was a commercial success, grossing $115 million against its $22 million budget.

The University of Texas

Matthew McConaughey attends his "just keep livin" pop-up shop on April 17, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

Rick Kern/Getty Images for just keep livin

That same year, McConaughey also became a professor of practice for the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the Moody College of Communications. For his alma mater, the actor has served as a visiting instructor since 2015.


Matthew McConaughey speaks onstage during HISTORYTalks Leadership & Legacy presented by HISTORY at Carnegie Hall on February 29, 2020 in New York City

by Noam Galai/Getty Images for HISTORY

In 2020, the actor went on to release his memoir Greenlights, published by Crown Publishing Group. In order to complete the book, the actor stated that he decided to go to the desert without electricity for 52 days while writing the novel. The book originates from his journals and diaries he began writing when he was 14 years old. The book is described as a collection of "poems, prayers, stories, people and places, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers." The book is actually an insight into McConaughey's life in chronological order and was officially named a bestseller on the New York Times nonfiction list.

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