Matthew McConaughey’s Free State of Jones is out this week. It’s an historical drama based on the true story of Newton Knight, a farmer who joined with slaves to lead a rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War. This is McConaughey’s first big film since Interstellar in 2014 and he needs it to be a hit. Unfortunately it’s getting skewered on Rotten Tomatoes with a 0% rating so far. It’s being compared to a TV miniseries and critics say it’s dry, too historically focused and not entertaining enough.
McConaughey’s performance is being praised as one of the few merits of the film, which you would expect as we know he can act. He also gives a great interview. I’ve always enjoyed listening to McConaughey speak, as he has a kind of poetic way of looking at the world. That comes through in his new People cover interview, where he tells cute anecdotes about his kids and his wife, Camila Alves. Here’s some of what he told People, from their print edition. They also have an hour long interview with him which you can see on their site. The video below is of McConaughey describing how he met his wife, which is really sweet.
Do you remember the first time you met Camila?
Damn right. [At] Jones, a club. [In Los Angeles in 2006]. I’m not a club guy, but I went with my buddy Lance [Armstrong] and some other friends. We’d had a great day at the beach; it was one of those summers where every day was just another green light. I was making margaritas at the table, and out of the corner of my eye this sort of aqua-green figure went floating across the frame about 20 feet in front of me. My eye went up, and I remember what came out of my mouth. I didn’t say, “Who is that?” I went, “What is that?” As I was trying to get that’s attention across the room, I went in my head, “This is not the kind of woman you call over across the room, McConaughey. Get your ass out of the chair and go get her.” Which I did. So I went over and I asked her and her friends to come sit down, which every man should know, invite the friends and that’s the way they’ll come on their own, which she did. She spoke Portugese over the loud music, and I spoke and understood Portuguese better than I’ve ever understood her in our nine years of dating. I also spoke the best Spanish I’ve ever spoken, which was close enough to Portuguese that night to be the international language of love. It worked out.
Why do you think that was the one? Beautiful women were around you all the time.
I believe two things. Got to be the right person, but it has to be the right time. I was not looking. I was very happily single and healthily single. I was sleeping well, I was spiritually sound. I was good with hanging with him. We met and the self-respect she had, the way I understood her and her relationship with family, the way she respected me but never took anything for granted, not putting on any airs whatsoever. You know when you catch the airs. You catch them in the silent moments. There was none of that. So we went on our first date, three nights later, and I knew then the next night after that I wanted to go on another date. I’ve been wanting to go on a date with her for the last nine years and not with anybody else.
And it happened fast
We had children first. Two of our children before we got married, before she handed me the invitation to our wedding. I was all for marriage and she was like “So when you going to get to it? We’re going to make time.”
What are your kids like?
Levi is the architect. Levi observes, Vida see, Livingston does. [Levi is] the most considerate person I know, but he loves to measure the anatomy of the situation. Very much a perfectionist like me. Vida just makes sense of situations. She cuts right to the nut of the answer. Levi and I’ll be trying to figure out the mystery of where the lost car keys are and coming up with scenarios. “Where was the jacket you wore yesterday? Have you checked the pockets?” Like, “Yeah, let’s go check.” Vida’s over in the corner drawing. This goes on for 15 minutes, and all of a sudden Vida will go, “Look what I drew, Papa.” You go, “Aw, that’s great, Vida.” She goes, “Glad you like it. Have you checked the ignition?” Walks off. Sure enough, they’re in the ignition. Then Livingston is the doer. He’s the monarch.
[From People Magazine, print edition and some quotes from video interview added]
I want to know the logistics of Camila speaking Portuguese. She came to America when she was 15 and she didn’t know English at the time, but I would assume she spoke English when she met McConaughey as she was 24. I remember when McConaughey first started dating Alves because we would get paparazzi pics of him grilling outside his Airstream trailer. He seriously lived in a trailer when he first met her and didn’t buy a house until after they were together for a while. He would also regularly exercise outside shirtless, go barefoot, and brush his teeth just walking around outside. Those were the days. The story about how he met Camila and just knew is so him, and it’s also really romantic. It reminds me of how Matt Damon described meeting his wife. These guys are actors so I might be skeptical of how they romanticize meeting their wives, but most actors don’t talk about their wives so glowingly. There’s something genuine about their relationships. Alright alright alright.