October 28, 2014

Matthew McConaughey: The Ultimate Icon?

Matthew McConaughey

Imagine a Hollywood star, basking in the glory and success of his latest movie golden globe award.

He is exactly as human as I am, as anyone is.

He is playing a game called “being a movie star.” There is no wrong in that.

Many people buy into these games and give the illusion more energy than is necessary. That can cause needless suffering.

One person I respect is the actor known as Matthew McConaughey. Perhaps due to his unusual heritage, (his ancestry includes English, Scottish, Irish, Swedish, and German) McConaughey seems to understand that he is playing a character in a movie, and playing a character in a greater movie called life. He find joy and expression and has fun with his “character.”

For a person whose life motto is “Just Keep Living”…what more can be said!

Apparently, he is known for not taking himself too seriously. At 18, he spent a year as a rotary exchange student in Australia which included time on a farm cleaning out chicken coops. Such an experience, no doubt gave him a lot of perspective and a great accent (he returned to the USA with an adopted Australian accent)!

McConaughey has a reputation for being himself—his repertoire includes giving Barbara Walters a foot-rub, not wearing cologne or deoderant (“A man should smell like a man. I haven’t worn deodorant in 20 years.”), playing Brazilian music continuously for eight hours in the operating room to help his wife, Camila Alves give birth to Levi, their first child.

Some classic quotes from the abundantly talented and ridiculously quotable McConaughey:

“To understand me, you need to understand Texan logic. If you come from Texas, you’re 100 per cent American but you’ll do things the Texan way.”

“I love taking advantage of my fame. If I go to the airport and get taken to the front of the line, I’m not going to protest. When I show up to see a band and I get whisked backstage, I like it. If I’m offered the use of a private jet, bring it on. But I draw the line at playing the, “Do you know who I am?” card and I refuse to have every little thing done for me. If you buy into all that, it will show up in your acting.”

“Just keep living” is the motto that keeps me moving forward. I’ve had that motto since I was 21. I was filming Dazed and Confused (1993), my father had just died, and I suddenly realized I was no longer a boy. My life’s a lot bigger now. I have far more responsibilities.

Also, it’s been a long while since I was anonymous.

“We have a big appetite for putting people down but, at the heart of everyone, there’s enough room for all of us to succeed.”

“Who needs a house when you can live in a trailer? People tell me it’s not a very Hollywood way to live but it happens to be my preference. I’ve lived in big houses and a big space gave me too many options. I had this amazing chair that I loved but I’d go months without sitting on it. I had some nice paintings on the walls but I’d hardly ever look at them. I realized I didn’t need those things.”

“I want to be reincarnated as a jaguar. They’re the coolest animals in the world. I came across one very briefly in the Manú National Park in Peru. I followed its tracks and got close enough to realize how beautifully self-contained it was. Jaguars are keen and they’re perfectly poised. I’d sure love to be that well designed.”

“I talk to myself all the time. Just make sure you answer.”

“I don’t want to just revolve. I want to evolve. As a man, as a human, as a father, as a lover.”

“People are going, ‘You’re the sexiest man in America.’ And I’m like, ‘No, no — alive!’ Those extraterrestrials out there? Those dudes on Mars? They ain’t got nothing on me, man. I’m sexy, and I’m alive. Fact!”

“In whatever adulation you get, there’s truth and there’s not truth.”

“There’s a man I met 20 years ago. He escaped Russia. He was not even a carpenter, built a 17-foot boat and sailed across the Atlantic for decades he held the world record for smallest vessel single-man sailed across the Atlantic. He told me this, he said, ‘A genius can be anybody he wants to, but a genius is always one person at a time.’ So to that I say, that’s what we get to do, isn’t it? One man, one woman, one human. At a time. When we do it well. Just keep doing that. Just keep living.”

“Without exercise, I don’t feel like my head works right.”

“A man should always have his diary on him. That way he’s guaranteed to always have something incredible to read.”

“My life is the road, man. I need to keep moving.”

“There’s a difference in thinking you are a champion and knowing that you are.”

“You want to be a writer? Start writing. You want to be a filmmaker? Start shooting stuff on your phone right now.”

“Life is a series of commas, not periods.”

“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.”

“Man, I love cricket. I was working on a pea farm in Narrandera and we’d come in for smoko, and put the cricket on. And I’m talking the full-on, five-day matches, back when Curtly Ambrose and Desmond Haynes were rollin’ for the West Indies. I also went to two West Indies-Australia matches and I remember my days at the tests – you eat a hot dog, you take a nap, you wake up, then maybe you catch the first wicket … Then you drink some beer and then take another nap. It was cool man.”

To me, what makes McConaughey great is that he seems indifferent to fame, impervious to criticism, loves success, always laughs at himself, never seems forced and seems to act from a space beyond ego boundaries. He laughs at the ego, yet celebrates it. McConaughey is having fun—loads of it!

Perhaps McConaughey is the ultimate icon, the people’s hero who refuses to be a hero, the trendsetter who refuses to be a trendsetter, the actor who refuses to act!

McConaughey is being himself—that’s why I salute him!


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: avda foto at Flickr 

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