After a series of minor roles in the early 1990s, McConaughey gained notice for his breakout role in Dazed and Confused (1993). He then appeared in films such as A Time to Kill, Contact, U-571, Tiptoes, Sahara, and We Are Marshall. McConaughey is best known more recently for his performances as a leading man in the romantic comedies The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Fool's Gold.
McConaughey, the youngest of three boys, was born in Uvalde, Texas. His mother, Mary Kathleen "Kay" (née McCabe), was a kindergarten teacher, and his father, James Donald McConaughey, was a gas-station owner who ran an oil pipe supply business and once played football for the Green Bay Packers. McConaughey has Irish ancestry and had a Methodist upbringing. McConaughey's mother and late father divorced and re-married each other several times.
McConaughey moved to Longview, Texas— located east of Dallas, where he attended Longview High School. While in high school, he was voted most handsome in the Longview Lobo Yearbook. He lived for a year in Warnervale, New South Wales, Australia, as a Rotary exchange student in 1988. McConaughey attended the College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, where he joined Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity and lived at The Castilian residence hall. He began in fall of 1989 and graduated in the spring of 1993 with a B.S. degree in Radio-Television-Film.
McConaughey began his acting career in 1991, appearing in television commercials, before being cast in Richard Linklater's film Dazed and Confused, which became a critical success, garnering largely positive reviews. After appearing in some smaller roles in Angels in the Outfield, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Boys on the Side, the television series Unsolved Mysteries, and as the male lead in the Trisha Yearwood music video for the song Walkaway Joe, McConaughey's big break came as the lawyer "Jake Brigance" in the 1996 film A Time to Kill, based on the John Grisham novel of the same name.
McConaughey was cast in leading roles in many more movies: Contact, Amistad, The Newton Boys, EDtv, and U-571. By the early 2000s, he was frequently cast in romantic comedies, including The Wedding Planner and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, both of which were successful at the box office. During this period, he appeared as a firefighter in the low-budget film Tiptoes, opposite Rene Russo, in Two For The Money as a protege to Al Pacino's gambling mogul, and in Frailty, cast against type as a serial killer, opposite Bill Paxton. On September 10, 2000, he appears as himself on the show Sex and the City on HBO, talking with Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) about optioning her columns to make a movie.
McConaughey starred in the feature film Sahara, along with Steve Zahn and Penélope Cruz. Prior to the release of the movie, he promoted it by repeating some trips he took in the late 1990s, including sailing down the Amazon River and trekking to Mali. That same year, McConaughey was named People magazine's “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2005.
In 2006, he co-starred with Sarah Jessica Parker in the romantic comedy Failure to Launch, which was reasonably successful at the box office. McConaughey also provided voice work for an ad campaign of the Peace Corps in late 2006. Matthew's production company, j.k. livin, is currently in development on projects with Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. McConaughey starred in the football drama We Are Marshall. He also appeared in Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder, replacing Owen Wilson after Wilson's suicide attempt.
On January 21, 2008, McConaughey became the new spokesman for the national radio campaign, "Beef: It's What's For Dinner", replacing actor Sam Elliot.
In June 2010 it was announced that McConaughey is teaming up with Marc Hyman to develop a scripted comedy for TV channel FX based on material from J. R. Reed.
McConaughey was one of the presenters at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony.
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