Matthew McConaughey is responsible for some choice turns of phrases himself, from “alright, alright, alright” to “just keep livin’.” For McConaughey some of his favorite words came from his father, the late James McConaughey. He said it when Matthew broke the news that he changed his mind about becoming a lawyer and wanted to be an actor instead. He would go on to play many lawyers in movies. 

McConaughey appeared on the Sibling Revelry podcast on Oct. 21, 2020 along with his brother, Rooster. He told hosts Kate and Oliver Hudson about “the most beautiful words I ever heard” courtesy of his dad. 

In what movies did Matthew McConaughey play a lawyer?

McConaughey was a student at University of Texas at Austin on the path to becoming a lawyer. Long after he changed his career, he would play lawyers in A Time to Kill, Amistad and The Lincoln Lawyer. He recalled the moment he changed his mind. 

“I make a phone call to my dad between my sophomore and junior year,” McConaughey told the Hudsons. “I was now getting to that last two years of college, I think I’m going to be a lawyer and all of a sudden it starts hitting me. Whoa, I finish school here. I go to law school for another three, four years, I get out, I’m really not going to be able to put my mark on the world until I’m in my 30s. Well, I don’t want to really spend my whole 20s in class.”

Movies were calling Matthew McConaughey 

McConaughey remembered Rob Bindler, who would direct him in Surfer, Dude, encouraging him to write. However, McConaughey wanted to be the star.

“Now I look back at my diaries going through to write the book, I wouldn’t admit I wanted to be in front of the camera back then but I did,” McConaughey said. “I couldn’t even dream it though. It was like an embarrassing thought, like too avant-garde, too European. You’ve got to work your way up the scale on a ladder, company ladder. You’re a blue collar family. The arts are not in the vernacular of something to dream do.”

Breaking the news to Dad

McConaughey credited Og Mandino’s book The Greatest Salesman in the World with motivating him to pursue his dream. He expected his father to put up resistance. 

“I gotta call Dad first, tell him I want to go to film school instead of law school,” McConaughey said. “I remember timing it out. I’m going to call him about 7:30. He’ll be home from work, have dinner, he’ll be sitting down with a drink or something, I’ll catch him. I remember telling him, ‘Dad, I want to go to film school instead of law school.’ Caught my breath. Pause on the other end of the line.”

‘The most beautiful words I’ve ever heard’

His father’s reaction surprised him. McConaughey switched majors and lives up to his promise to this day. 

All of a sudden he goes, ‘Well, son, is that what you want to do?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ Another pause on the other end of the line. One, two, three, four, five seconds. Then I heard some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard, out of my dad’s mouth. He goes, ‘Well, don’t half ass it.’ And I was like oh, not only did he give me his approval, he just sent me a flight and said if you’re going to do it, do it. Don’t half ass it.

Source: Sibling Revelry podcast

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