If you need proof that timing is as critical to success as hard work, just ask Matthew McConaughey, who says a chance meeting led to his iconic role in Dazed and Confused.
In an excerpt from his new memoir Greenlights, the Oscar-winning actor recalls the starving artist phase of his twenties. With only a Miller Lite commercial and Trisha Yearwood music video appearance under his belt, McConaughey went out for drinks one night at a Hyatt hotel bar.
That’s where he met casting director Don Philips. The two men hit it off so well that after they were finally told to leave the bar, they decided to hang out and smoke some pot together. On a cab ride back to the actor’s apartment, Philips asked McConaughey about his acting experience. Then he offered a proposal:
‘There’s a small part in this movie I’m casting you might be right for,” he said. “Come to this address tomorrow morning at nine thirty and pick up the script, I’ll have the three scenes marked.'”
McConaughey could have never predicted that the role—which was for David Wooderson in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused—would help launch him into stardom.
According to McConaughey, the words “Alright, alright, alright,”—which he claims were improvised—still follows him almost 30 years later. “People say them,” he writes. “People steal them. People wear them on their hats and T-shirts. People have them tattooed on their arms and inner thighs. And I love it. It’s an honor. Because those three words are the very first words I said on the very first night of a job I had that I thought might be nothing but a hobby, but turned into a career.”
Of course, we doubt that McConaughey is saying that aspiring actors should get kicked out of the workplace and get high to achieve success. To quote Cardi B, “I ain’t tellin’ y’all to do it, I’m just tellin’ my story.” And what a story it is.