Matthew McConaughey in Esquire: is he a poser or is the journalist a jerk?

I love some Matthew McConaughey, and I usually find him kind of fascinating, like he has this real joy for life and talks in parables. In the latest issue of Esquire, for which Matt is the cover boy, he comes across like a poser, though. He’s like one of those guys in college who thinks he’s the first dude to backpack around Europe and you just have to try it, or you haven’t lived. Only Europe is too good for Matty, he had to go to South American to challenge himself since they have modern conveniences in Europe. It became clear to me after reading a few paragraphs that this wasn’t the McConaughey I loved, though, it was some insecure journalist’s opinion of him.

In this Esquire story, McConaughey is so hospitable and accommodating. He invites the journalist to his spend a couple days with him, to go golfing, to attend a party at his house and to stay overnight on the property in one of his Airstream trailers. Only the journalist kind of sh*ts all over everything and comes across as insecure and out of his element. He portrays McConaughey as a caricature of himself and kind of mocks him. It’s hard to portray in a few segments, because it’s the overall tone of the piece.

Here are some excerpts, and I would encourage you to read the whole thing to get a better picture of what’s going on if you’re interested:

The journalist on McConaughey’s vernacular
Over the weekend he refers to six things as “nectar” — a steak, the wine, the company of his older dog, a hat he found for his two-year-old son, the arrival of his final set of friends, and that one golf shot. Broadly speaking, nectar is good.

McConaughey on his trip to Peru
When things are going right in a golf cart, familiarity builds. And so I ask him the question that is sometimes awkward: why he took time off from making movies. I’m inquiring about the previous two years, before this most recent comeback, but McConaughey goes straight to his own question. The last two years don’t seem to be any of my business.

“I’ve done that before,” he says. “I went to Peru after A Time to Kill. I had a lot to think about. Just grabbed a bag and left. And I went up and further in, until I was about as uncomfortable and unfamiliar with things as I could be. You know why I don’t go to Europe for these trips? Because in Europe everything pretty much works, or it almost works. I mean, it’s almost what I’m used to. But Peru, Mali, Morocco? Nothing works. Nothing. So you have to give up on what you know. At least I do. And for a while it’s very uncomfortable. Extremely. I mean you’re faking the language as best you can, nodding at things you probably shouldn’t be, and you start to miss the things you know. And you need to eat.”

For the first time since we met, the truths pile themselves, emblematic but also pragmatic, hard-earned or maybe stolen from the lyrics of a pop song. I can’t tell yet. But he persists. “And I started to strip things down. I took off my hat and my ring, just this big old gold ring. I’d made it, melted down one of my dad’s old rings and mixed in some gold from I don’t know — one of my mother’s teeth I think. And this ring — big old M on it — I took it off. One morning I get up — Count of Montezuma, the whole bit, threw up, diarrhea, puked. It was a purge, man” — this word he enunciates precise as a birdcall — “and it was sick, but it was a spiritual cleanse, and after that I was high as a kite. I was able to look at all the stuff I’d stripped away and ask questions: What does that ring mean? What does my name mean? What do I make of that old American flag that’s sewn onto the hat I’ve been wearing for eighteen years? All these things that give me pride, what did they add up to?”

He was standing over a putt then, or he’d walked up onto the apron of the green, or he’d reached down to pull his ball from the hole — some golf gesture. I don’t remember; I was listening. “It all comes into balance between day nine and day thirteen,” he said.

“What happens then?”

“That’s about the point where I start to see I can survive. And all my discomfort just disappears and then I pretty much feel free to go home. I try to let the place own me. Then I can go home.”

On his partner, Camila Alves, and their new home
“Before this, I had a super home in the Hollywood Hills that I did by myself — landscaping, detailing pretty much everything. But that house was mine. And yeah, we coulda gone in there right away. Camila would have said, Fine, don’t change a thing. But I thought, I found the woman I wanna do it with, the woman I wanna make a family with, hopefully live our life out together. She needs to have 50 percent of that. I mean, it’s a lot easier for me to be at 100 percent. I’d always been 100 percent. It’s braver for me at 50 percent.”

McConaughey calls himself religious
“A friend of mine who’s a lawyer said something about me a couple of weeks ago, and it’s true. You know how that is? When a friend you’ve known a long time declares something about you and wham!” Here Matthew McConaughey snaps his fingers so loud it sounds like the cracking of a Lincoln Log. “I mean, you think, Hey, that’s true!” His voice drops. “Good friend,” he says. He speaks in many directions at once. “He said to me, Matthew, you’re into commas. Every time you think you’ve stopped, you always come out of it. Every time you think you’ve reached the end of that long dead-end street, you slip around the edge, past that stopping point, past the right angles. And I thought: Yes.” This is a word he hisses, almost every time, stretching it right into an invitation. “It’s all continuation! Even if you’re dying, that’s a kind of continuation, because you move on. And you have to change. Now, you lose something in your life, or you come into a conflict, and there’s gonna come a time that you’re gonna know: There was a reason for that. And at the end of your life, all the things you thought were periods, they turn out to be commas. There was never a full stop in any of it…”

McConaughey takes that fifth bite of rib eye, then sighs. “Listen,” he says, “I was thinking. Earlier, when I was talking about the commas, and the continuation? You might be tempted to call that ‘spiritual.’ ” He tilts his head, as if weighing the word. “But I think that description would be a dodge. I’m religious. I like that word. You can use it.”

So he’s hunched, quartered toward me, speaking softly, cheek full of rib eye, and he pretty much whispers, “Yes, you can look at the table and say you see spirituality. Fine. Friendship, love, reverence for one another” — he’s darting his eyes in various directions, so I get eye-blink camera shots: heads thrown back in laughter, glasses clinking, women striking a harmony, children climbing into the laps of their fathers. “And I can shake hands with that. Spiritual. It’s perfectly good. But what I see here is ligare.”

“Ligare.” I repeat the word to be sure I got it. I was taught by Jesuits. We’re in for some Latin here.

“It’s the root word of religion. It’s the Latin. Ligare. ‘To bind.’ ”

“So, re-ligare?”

McConaughey starts nodding. “To bind us together again,” he says. He gently pushes away his plate. “That’s how I read it, anyway,” he says. “That’s what I’m after. I’m religious. We are religious. You can say that.”

[From Esquire via Huffington Post]

Not everyone gets McConaughey, and not everyone thinks his way of talking isn’t some kind of affectation. That’s why McConaughey went out of his way to be accommodating, so that he would be portrayed well. Only he got someone who had already made up his mind about him. All the golf and hospitality in the world wouldn’t have made this guy write a positive profile.

Photos from Esquire



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50 Responses to “Matthew McConaughey in Esquire: is he a poser or is the journalist a jerk?”

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  1. carrie says:

    do you remember their interview with Christian Bale in last december?
    here it’s the same story :the journalist edits a story for that the paper becomes interesting

  2. mia girl says:

    I agree, I think the journalist came into the interview with a preconceived notion of McConaughey… or did not get him AT ALL.

  3. MMF says:

    I have always loved him.
    Watched A Time to Kill the other night.
    For the 20th time.

  4. ZZ says:

    His new movie doesn’t look too good

  5. Leticia says:

    My impression is that the journalist is an elitist who came into the interview with it already written in his head.

  6. Iggles says:

    MMF – Yeah, it was on TV the other night! I *love* that movie, although it rips me to shreds. Had to turn it off because it makes me cry.

    “Yes, they deserved to die and I hope they burn in hell!”

    “Picture that little girl. Can you see her?… Now imagine she was white.”

    Wow. Such moving commentary on race in America. Class too. Just, simply an amazing movie.

  7. Granger says:

    I obviously need to read the rest of the interview because the excerpts you’ve included here don’t convince me that the journalist is a d**k. They’re all pretty much full quotes from Matthew. And to me, he sounds hilariously self-absorbed. Like someone who has waaaaaaayyyyy too much money and time on his hands, who thinks he’s incredibly enlightened because he has all the time and money in the world to devote to his mystical “travels,” and who thinks the rest of the world needs to hear how he lives so their lives will be better too. Kinda like Gwyneth Paltrow. But like I said, I need to read the rest of the interview, then I’ll comment again!

  8. bananapanda says:

    I dig it man. For some reason I’d like to see a MM and Brad Pitt movie of some sort. They both strike me as honest, open and American guys living life to the fullest- traveling, thinking, building houses and loving their families.

  9. lrm says:

    MM is just cool.
    he is who he is.
    gotta love that.

    i always remember that inteview he did with jon stewart years ago-about his trip to mali….so hilarious, true and real.

    MM makes such mainstream movies-
    but to me he interviews like a wes anderson character-which is what makes me love him-his interviews, not his movies.

    he is an oddity, a rarity, yet familiar and relate-able at the same time-especially to outcasts.

    and i hate when ppl say his girl is a gold digger.s ome ppl make more money than their partner.

    and MM was, arguably, quite charming and hot when she first met him. Dude has a great physique, is intelligent, is fairly macho/texas-maybe it did it for her…..
    although it’s what a 20 year age difference? noone mentions that much with him.

  10. lisa says:

    @bananapanda-I’m with you, that would be an interesting combo. I LOVE MM, he can do no wrong in my book.

  11. Jeri says:

    I remember when he went on Letterman to talk about the “miracle cure” that had restored his hairline. Letterman did his best to ignore his “product placement” and get him off the suject.

    Matthew sounds like the B lister in Laineys’ Blind (I don’t think he’s been married but I do think he is gay).

  12. Bill Hicks is God says:

    Has he on amicable terms with deordorant yet?

  13. Marjalane says:

    Oh please. Like all that southern hospitality wasn’t in order to get a glowing write-up? Me thinks someone is trying to sell his new movie and is still a smelly douche poser. You can’t be an over the hill, beachboy forever, gorilla arms!

  14. lambchops says:

    i love him for some reason, but he is a mimbo. part of the hilarity is that he thinks he is deep and philosophical when he’s kind of an idiot.

  15. Riley says:

    @Granger: I am with you. From what is posted here, I don’t think the journalist sounds snide, but rather as though he has spent some time with MM and has a better understanding of his mannerisms, vernacular, philosophical and religious views. You are right. MM put it out there, at least in the snippet CB provides for us.

  16. mln76 says:

    I think Matthew is one of those guys cynical Hollywood insiders just don’t understand. He’s a stoner who probably has dropped a tab or two of acid( or maybe 700) in his time he’s esoteric and non-linear. I mean he got arrested once naked playing bongo music and stoned out of his mind in his home. He isn’t the best actor out there but I think he’s a genuine dude.

  17. mymy says:

    You would expect this drivel to be coming out of the mouth of a 22 years old. Not a man of Mats age. You can like someone and still find them beyond annoying and immature. And why shoot the messenger? Believe me he isn’t that hard to get. I think plenty of people get him. And frankly he is beyond into himself and being different.

  18. Stella says:

    I’m not getting anything negative out of the interview. Seems to be pretty straight-forward, or as much as can be possible with such an interviewee. I wish he would marry his ‘girlfriend’. In my book he is a major douchebag until he puts a ring on the mother of his children.

  19. Kim says:

    Hes just as stoner hippie who made it big. Why do people expect him to sound like a professor when he talks? Celebs arent necessarily educated or intelligent.

    I dont buy the Camilla would have been ok with the house as was but I decided she needed 50%. BS it was a man cave and she didnt want to live there!

  20. gloaming says:

    Shame about his arms though. Those little stubbs give me the willies…

  21. Bodhi says:

    Ditto mln76. I think he is just a laid back spacey stoner guy. I’ve known loads of people who are like that as an affection (I call them trustafarians), but there are some people out there who really are like that

  22. sally says:

    Maybe he sounds like a poser in the interview because he IS a poser? He sounds like every other stoner that thinks they’re so incredibly enlightened, when they’re really just tools.

  23. Chickie Baby says:

    I love Matt. He entertains me to no end, just because he’s always so mellow and full of Matt-philosophy. Just wish he would make more movies that were actually good…stay away from romantic comedies and stick with dramas or action flicks. He’s got the chops and the screen presence.

  24. Solveig says:

    I stopped reading after this:
    “[...]But Peru, Mali, Morocco? Nothing works. Nothing.”

    In these countries things work as they are supposed to work, more likely you, Matthew, aren’t able to adapt yourself to those places and cultures.
    He looks so vain, for the little I read he sounds vain too.

  25. latam2012 says:

    i like him. He usually comes off as extremely down to earth and likeable.

  26. Bodhi says:

    This may come as a huge surprise to some people, but most people who talk about how “deep” they are are completely full of shit. Matt doesn’t think that he is deep, or if he does, he isn’t stupid enough to say it. I think he just really is one of those spacey hippies who considers himself to be one with the universe. He just happens to never have to worry about money ever again…

  27. Runs with Scissors says:

    @Granger: “And to me, he sounds hilariously self-absorbed. Like someone who has waaaaaaayyyyy too much money and time on his hands, who thinks he’s incredibly enlightened because he has all the time and money in the world to devote to his mystical “travels,” and who thinks the rest of the world needs to hear how he lives so their lives will be better too. Kinda like Gwyneth Paltrow.”

    yep, THIS. I should read the whole piece too, just to be fair, but he sounds like EVERY guy I went to college with in California. Not evil or anything, just entitled and dim-witted and always affecting “depth.”

    @Bodhi: trustafarians, awesome. :)

  28. the other mel says:

    I totally get MM and what he was trying to get across here. I think the journalist had his own agenda.

    Oh, and saw the new movie ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ this weekend — loved it. Great cast, good suspense, and MM was in his element and riveting in every scene, which is not something I typically feel about him. I like him, though. I think he’s authentic.

  29. Frankly says:

    He sounds like every third guy I meet here in Florida – beach bums, parrot heads, old surfers. Not my kind of thing, but they are who they are.

  30. Az says:

    Once again, he has been posed to hide his yucky, weirdly stumpy T-rex arms.

  31. Micki says:

    I think the journalist didn’t get the type of interview he came for, so yes there is sort of disaccord bellow the surface. MM sounds like a man comfortable with himself and his pursuits. He’d go as far as to “explain” them but doesn’t necessarily need your approval. He’s living his life as he sees fit.

  32. Ariana says:

    His arms look mighty fine to me. He looks great in a suit….

  33. Hautie says:

    Y’all are killing me with the arm thing.

    I still, to this day, see nothing wrong with the length of his arms. What is he maybe 5’9. It is not as if he is 6’4.

    I also saw Lincoln Lawyer and loved it. I was happy that there was a adult movie to actually watch.

    Yet I dread the Summer months. When all the emo/vampire crap comes roaming back into the theaters.

  34. S says:


  35. lucy2 says:

    Definitely possible the journalist went in with a pre-formed opinion, but honestly, if I spent a few days with someone who talked like that all the time, I think I might be a little snotty and snide about it too.
    I don’t think he’s a bad guy or anything, but seems like the type of person best experienced in small doses.

    I always think “T-Rex arms” every time I see a photo of him now, whether or not his arms look short (1st photo) or regular (2nd photo).

  36. Crash2GO2 says:

    Erm…nevermind. Someone is full of something. Either the journalist (strong suspicions) or Matthew.

  37. harfang says:

    I understand why the journalist went this route, but in the end I agree with Celebitchy: I’m on Team McConaughey, and I usually can’t stand arrogant twerps. But this arrogant twerp is also friendly, generous, spontaneous and unsnobby. I think he knows he’s arrogant and has stopped caring much.

    The cleanse he describes seems reasonable, albeit described rather grandiosely. This is pretty much the same kind of outcome that one has on a successful vision quest, or when taking peyote or ayahuasca (sp?). It’s a legitimate experience to share and feel good about. Both the actor and the interviewer might be full of themselves, but only one is being a douche.

  38. Dana M says:

    I totally get him. Love him!

    This journalist must NOT be a fellow Texas Longhorn fan…at all.

  39. tango says:

    Ok, I like Matthew M. You know why? Because he’s always with his kids and seems thrilled about it. Self absorbed stoner who thinks he’s being deep? Maybe. Probably. But he seems like a good and loving father and for that reason, he gets kudos from me.

  40. Newbie says:

    I’ve seen many of his movies, and I’ve never noticed his arms. They’ve always seemed normal and proportionate. *shrugs*

  41. Isa says:

    Everytime the journalist mentioned him taking a bite of food, I pictured Matt talking with his mouth full.

  42. helen says:

    Remember when Christian Bale went off on a journo, saying- you just want to write a novel, and you’ll say whatever you want about me for the article, regardless of what I’m like- and the journo was all like- what on earth do you mean, I would never do that?

    Then you pointed out this article here, plus the one on Brooklyn Decker and I totally get what he means- those guys just make up a little story featuring the subject of the “interview” as a character, usually not in a flattering way, and the celebs are just supposed to sit back and take it. Certainly Matthew sounds like a dick here- and myself, I think him lavishing hospitality on the journo smacks of Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest and is kind of dodgy, like he’s trying to buy the guys favour. But who knows? Journo is writing whatever he wants. And if Matthew complains like Christian, he’ll be seen as “difficult” and “paranoid”. Sucks.

    Fantastic photos though.

  43. Molly says:

    Love Matthew! This journalist and his crappy piece couldnt change my opinion of him.

  44. LittleDeadGirl says:

    Look I love the guy too and the journalist does come off as a douch but at the same time from the few interviews I’ve seen from the big M he is kind of a self absorbed but friendly stoner … he’s in his own world and while I don’t think he’s pretentious when you aren’t stoned he comes off as pretty stupid at times. He’s lovable though so it’s hard to see him getting kicked by a journalist.

  45. HeidiF says:

    Trust me, I grew up with the guy. It’s him, not the reporter.

  46. Abby says:

    This journalist sounds like a jerk. He’s also the author of the horrific brooklyn decker piece.