Matthew McConaughey Hopes Washington Redskins Keep Name, Defends Rom-Coms
Matthew McConaughey opens up about fatherhood, vanity, prayer, the Washington Redskins controversy and his own mythology in an expansive new cover interview with GQ.
“Never is a man more of a man than when he is the father of a newborn,” the Oscar winner tells the magazine. “Whatever decisions you make in the first six months of becoming a father, double down on them. I mean, you’re meeting the Courier. You’re meeting the Shepherd, the Future Prince.” McConaughey continues, “You immediately have something you don’t have to think about. You know what’s important. Bam! And the clarity of that is like, ‘Whew.’ I definitely got more selfish. And at the same time, I think I got more compassionate, which don’t always go together, you know?”
The actor attends church with his wife Camila Alves and their children every Sunday when he’s in Texas, explaining, “As soon as we had children, I was like, ‘You know what? That was important to my childhood.’ Even if it was just for the ritual of giving an hour and a half on Sunday to yourself, to pray and to think about others, even if you’re tired or whatever.” “I noticed how much I missed it and needed it,” McConaughey tells GQ. “It’s a time for me to take inventory of my last week, to look at what’s in the future and say my thank-you’s and think about what I can work on to do better.”
What led him to marry Alves after they already had children together? “I had to get to the point where I saw it as more than just the thing to do,” he explains. “I wanted to really want to. You know, I didn’t want it to be a destination; the fun is that we’re on the adventure together. So I spent a lot of time with her. We talked about it spiritually. We did a lot of reading and talked to a lot of people that had been divorced, a lot of people that had been happily married.
We talked to our pastor.” McConaughey continues, “In the end, our understanding was, Let’s go make a covenant, with you, me, and God. And let’s understand that this is not a destination, this is the beginning of an adventure that we’re taking together. Once that clicked with me and I didn’t have to intellectualize my way into it, I started to feel the excitement. I was having my own definition of the freedom I wanted thrown right back at me, in possibly a much greater way.” “And look, some of it had to do with her putting it on me. It took her going, ‘C’mon, Big Boy, Mr. Easygoing-We’ll-Get-to-It-When-We-Get-to-It. Either sh*t or get off the pot,'” he adds.
Something that has stuck with McConaughey besides religion since childhood is the Washington Redskins, a team that finds itself embroiled in controversy over its name. “What interests me is how quickly it got pushed into the social consciousness,” says the actor. “We were all fine with it since the 1930s, and all of a sudden we go, ‘No, gotta change it’? It seems like when the first levee breaks, everybody gets on board. I know a lot of Native Americans don’t have a problem with it, but they’re not going to say, ‘No, we really want the name.’ That’s not how they’re going to use their pulpit.” He continues, “It’s like my feeling about gun control: ‘I get it. You have the right to have guns. But look, let’s forget that right. Let’s forget the pleasure you get safely on your range, because it’s in the wrong hands in other places.'” If the Redskins wind up changing, McConaughey says, “It’s not going to hurt me. It’s just… I love the emblem. I dig it. It gives me a little fire and some oomph. But now that it’s in the court of public opinion, it’s going to change. I wish it wouldn’t, but it will.”
Another controversial association is McConaughey’s friendship with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. “He seems to be doing well. I don’t know anyone who can shake hands — meaning look at their situation realistically and deal with it — as quickly as him,” says McConaughey. “He honestly has looked it in the eye and is on the road to recovery.”
Does he need an apology from Armstrong for his years of lying about doping? McConaughey says, “To put my own emotions in front of this and go ‘You didn’t tell me the truth’ would be arrogant. And you know what? This is a friend. Who I know to be a good man. If there was an apology, it was said and I heard it.”
The actor also reveals that his much-discussed career revival following a series of interchangeable romantic comedies is not quite what it seems. McConaughey says he’s “absolutely” proud of his work in those movies: “I believe I gave them buoyancy.” Asked whether the conventional wisdom that his new “phase” is in “direct opposition” to the earlier part of his career, the actor says, “It may make a more interesting narrative and a dramatic punch, but it’s not true. Did there come a time when I picked up a script and was like, ‘God, I feel like I could do this [part] tomorrow’? Yes.” “That’s when I made a calculation to say, ‘I don’t want to do those right now.’ I thought, ‘I love harder, I cry harder, I laugh harder in my real life than I do in my work. I’ve got things in my life every single day, risks that I’m taking that are scaring me. Why is my work not scaring me?'” recalls McConaughey.
And while he was happy to have created a fulfilling off-screen life for himself, McConaughey decided to get more out of his work. “I congratulated myself on being that way instead of the other way around. But I also said, ‘I want to get more from my career than I’m getting right now.’ I talked to my agent. I talked to my wife. I talked to my moneyman and said, ‘Hey, I may not work for a while. We good?'” he remembers. “So I went away for two years.”
He disagrees that his iconic role as a stripper in Magic Mike “played off” the McConaughey myth. “Take the myth to the Smithsonian. Get it bronzed,” he tells GQ. “What I was saying was, ‘In case you didn’t know, I’ve always been in on the joke.'”
Regarding his drastic weight loss for Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey talks about his vanity. “I am vain. I think vanity is a good thing. It’s done more good things for me than it has not,” he explains. “In this case, I would have been embarrassed if I didn’t get to where I needed to get. That was vanity at work. Not ‘Where did my muscles go?'”
McConaughey says he never feels the need to pretend like he isn’t having a good time: “F*ck no. F*ck that. I’m not going to apologize for enjoying what I do.” How does he feel about the label McConaissance? “It’s a cool word. It sounds good. It’s got a good meter.” What do you think about what McConaughey has to say?