What We Discuss with Matthew McConaughey:
- What the sobriety of grief did for Matthew’s attitude about risk when he was dealing with the loss of his father.
- How Matthew tries to instill the values of self-reliance in his kids.
- How Matthew learned to cope with imposter syndrome and get his head on straight when he became a household name seemingly overnight.
- The philanthropic approach to selecting roles that has guided Matthew through his career in film.
- How Matthew keeps criticism from affecting how he perceives himself.
- And much more…
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For as much as you might think you know about him, actor Matthew McConaughey is a man who’s constantly reinventing himself and inviting new challenges into his life. He’s gone from indie film scene-stealer to the rom-com guy to Academy Award-winner over a career that’s been a mixture of shrewdly calculated next steps to serendipitous adventures. But all along the way he’s been guided by the “greenlights” of opportunity that usher one toward success (and a sense that even the yellows and reds eventually become green). His latest stop along this journey finds him playing the role of author, and his book is called, appropriately enough, Greenlights.
On this episode, Matthew joins us to talk about the sobriety of grief, cultivating self-reliance, imposter syndrome, a philanthropic approach to selecting roles, why having kids changes a parent’s perspective about everything, the hazards of coming to work as an unprepared actor when you have an entire film crew waiting for you to learn four pages of monologue in a foreign language, how to keep criticism from diminishing (or overinflating) one’s self-impression, and much more. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss the show we did with The 48 Laws of Power author Robert Greene? Catch up here with episode 117: What You Need to Know about the Laws of Human Nature!
THANKS, MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY!
If you enjoyed this session with Matthew McConaughey, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
- Matthew McConaughey | Twitter
- Matthew McConaughey | Facebook
- Matthew McConaughey | Instagram
- Just Keep Livin’ Foundation
- Matthew McConaughey: A Hollywood Star Who Actually Thinks for Himself | The New York Post
- What Matthew McConaughey Said About the ‘Illiberal Left’ | Newsweek
- Matthew McConaughey’s Brother Gets Year Supply of Beer for Naming Son Miller Lyte | Beer League
- Matthew McConaughey’s Dad Died While Having Sex with His Mom | Insider
- Dallas Buyers Club | Prime Video
- A Time to Kill | Prime Video
- How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- Dazed and Confused | Prime Video
- Contact | Prime Video
- Amistad | Prime Video
- Matthew McConaughey: ‘My Agent Said No to Romcoms. And Then There Was Nothing’ | The Guardian
- Hollywood Tried Really Hard to Keep Matthew McConaughey in Rom-Coms | CinemaBlend
- Matthew McConaughey: My Baby Will Be a Surfer Dude, Too | People
- Killer Joe | Prime Video
- The Paperboy | Prime Video
- True Detective: Season 1 | Prime Video
- Interstellar| Prime Video
- A Brief Introduction to the Default Mode Network | Tortilus
- Creative Routines | Info We Trust
- Scorpion Spring | Prime Video
- Penny Allen | Website
- Your Brain On Ayahuasca: The Hallucinogenic Drug | AsapSCIENCE
- Chateau Marmont
- Matthew McConaughey Spent His Gap Year in a Small Australian Town. It Was a ‘Horror Movie’. | MamaMia
- Matthew McConaughey Faked an Australian Accent for a Year | Late Night with Seth Meyers
- Ryan Holiday | Stillness Is the Key | Jordan Harbinger
Transcript for Matthew McConaughey | Following Life’s Greenlights to Success (Episode 455)
Matthew McConaughey: Hey, everybody McConaughey here, and you are listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show. All right, all right, all right.
[00:00:07] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:09] Matthew McConaughey: You know, there's that awkward bridge when we're left to the learn something where we have the instincts for. I was becoming conscious of what I had instincts to do. To learn a new craft, you've got to just go through that awkward period and power through it because all of a sudden it starts to slip from your head to your body, to your gut, your heart, your lungs, your feet. And all of a sudden it does become instinctual with working on something with repetition and working on over, over, and trying to understand it.
[00:00:36] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we code the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional award-winning actor, Russian chess grandmaster, national security advisor, legendary Hollywood director. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:05] If you're new to the show or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about it, we now have the episode starter packs. These are collections of your favorite episodes organized by popular topics to help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started, or hopefully to help someone else get started with us as well. I always appreciate that.
[00:01:26] Today, Matthew McConaughey — I'm not sure how much of an intro this guy needs. 40-plus feature films, multiple awards. I can't believe he almost became a lawyer, dodged the bullet on that one. We talk about the creative process. We talk about his career path. He's got a lot of insights. He's a very introspective guy. I'm not going to beat this one to death. You know who Matthew McConaughey is. And if that intro doesn't do it, you don't want to listen to the interview. Fine, but it'd be a whole lot cooler if you did.
[00:01:50] Now, if that intro didn't do it for you, you don't have to listen to this interview.
[00:01:54] Matthew McConaughey: It'd be a lot cooler if you did.
[00:01:57] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, and if you're wondering how I managed to book all these amazing folks on the show, it's because of my network and I'm teaching you how to build your network for free, for business, personal, whatever you want. And also it just takes a few minutes a day. That's why it's called Six-Minute Networking. It's a free course, jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find that. And most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course. They're in there. They contribute. Come join us, you'll be an amazing company where you belong. Here we go with Matthew McConaughey.
[00:02:26] Thanks for coming on, man. I have this feeling that you're sick of doing podcasts at this point. I don't know, call it a premonition.
[00:02:35] Matthew McConaughey: Not yet, man.
[00:02:36] Jordan Harbinger: Not yet. Really?
[00:02:37] Matthew McConaughey: No, I can tell you why.
[00:02:39] Jordan Harbinger: Do
[00:02:40] Matthew McConaughey: I go write a book. It's the most permanent extension of me I've ever put out. I don't know how much it's going to translate to people. I hope it does. It's very personal. I found out the more personal it got, the more it translated to more people. So every one of these conversations I have, and I've been having them now for eight weeks — thankfully, the book's doing well. The ideas are obviously scaling out because individuals, everybody I'm talking about is a completely different conversation about similar topics. So it's a fresh conversation. It hasn't been repetitive, even if it's on a similar topic where someone wants to bring up that a lot of people bring up.
[00:03:13] People were telling me how it's meaning something different to them than it meant to anybody else that I've talked to or how something is different to them that it meant to me. So that's kept it fresh. And look, I've done movies and stuff that I've got to go out and try and solicit them. Meaning like, maybe I need to like tell you what, "Hey, didn't you like the part where so-and-so happened." And then it's a lot easier when you do a movie that's sort of like this book that, "Hey, it's doing well," it's preceding me. I'm not here to talk you into anything or trying to get you to go to that. Go check it out or say, "Hey, didn't you like it?" It's preceding me and that makes this a lot easier—
[00:03:46] Jordan Harbinger: I bet, yeah.
[00:03:46] Matthew McConaughey: —like the long form much more than the short form.
[00:03:49]Jordan Harbinger: The long form makes sense for an artist, right, like yourself ?Or a creator, I should say, because otherwise it seems a little bit too much. You could only hit the shallows and it's like, you need the shallows because it's the structure of the thing. But then you can't get deep and it's a little unsatisfying. It's kind of like a one night stand of creating something, I guess. I don't know.
[00:04:06] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. And then you can't get context — I speak in long form anyway because I like to bring up both sides as much as I can or form as much context as possible. You know, short form, you go on a show, you got five minutes. I'm conscious. I've been doing this long enough that I go, "Okay. If I'm going to throw a greatest hits one-liner out there that I feel like it's probably going to get picked up by the press. This is the one to throw." So don't go into it — also, you got to watch in short form, I'm aware of what people are going to make clickbait. You know what I mean? And then we can even pull something out of — even in kind of a long-form conversation, you can be aware that people go in and go, "Oh, I'm going to pull out and make it short form because I'm going to make something that's going to be clickbait," and you go, "Well, that's not actually what I said." But how many people actually go back and listen to the whole thing?
[00:04:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:48] Matthew McConaughey: Probably not that—
[00:04:49] Jordan Harbinger: Not that many. I saw an article, somebody sent me, they're like, "Oh, when you're talking with Matthew, ask him about this thing that I've read in the New York Post, where he said Hollywood needs to think for itself." And I said, "You know, there's probably more that he said than the one-liner where something like, 'Oh, these Hollywood guys, they need to think for themselves.'" I'm like, "That's a zoom in on something that's this big."
[00:05:07] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. That dog got walked in a little bit of an irresponsible way. The way they took what I said and broke it down. I had said something about the illiberal left and those of us at West of back when Trump's elected four years ago, being in denial of that fact. And I was saying, there's extremes on the both left and the right. Well, someone went from the illiberal left that I said and said, "Well, he's calling out all liberals." And then it was just a step away from the fact. And then he said, "Now he's disrupting all of Hollywood. You walk that dog all the way out. It's not actually what — there's a difference in all three of those things.
[00:05:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think people are desperate to find somebody that agrees with them and they think, "Okay, Matthew McConaughey, probably a pretty popular guy on both sides of the political spectrum. Let's pretend that he agrees with this small viewpoint that our audience is really going to love." And then, you know it's going to go viral.
[00:05:59] Matthew McConaughey: It's fun to sit back and see — interesting at least — to sit back and see who picks up what and what stations. And you go, "Oh, that's a right-leaning media platform," or, "That's a left-leaning media platform." "Oh, I see how they grab that and use that to their side," which in a way — or actually not in a way — that literally it kind of proved my point—
[00:06:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:06:19] Matthew McConaughey: —of what I was saying, the extremes grabbing stuff, and either exaggerating them to benefit their side or denying the other half's existence of any validity and giving any validity to the other side at all.
[00:06:32] Jordan Harbinger: And people have a contrarian, right? They want to be like, "This is the one guy we knew we could rely on. McConaughey does see it our way." And you're like, "What are you talking about? I don't even know who you are. What are you talking about now?
[00:06:43] Matthew McConaughey: And then the other side of that is we make everything such a contradiction to that. That if one side even says, "Ah he said that. So he must be one of us."
[00:06:54] Jordan Harbinger: Us.
[00:06:55] Matthew McConaughey: That inherently means then he cannot be anything that the other side is about either, which is less than half true.
[00:07:03] Jordan Harbinger: That's the risk, I guess, with a high public profile, right, is everybody wants to think that you are one way and you don't necessarily — you get to be yourself last a lot of the time, I think.
[00:07:13] Matthew McConaughey: Well, I'm myself first—
[00:07:16] Jordan Harbinger: In the media though, right?
[00:07:18] Matthew McConaughey: —you know, and how that's packaged that just kind of moves like that. But I get that game. I mean, I've got that game for 28 years. And then you go — that's why again, why I like long form why I love question-answers and editorials, because usually I'm like, "No, I meant to say exactly what I said and please give me the benefit of reading that entire thing. You'll see that usually I'm ongoing there's this and that." But we don't like paradox in the world today. That's not enough of a car crash.
[00:07:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.,
[00:07:45] Matthew McConaughey: Then give us the rubber neck.
[00:07:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's like nuance. "Nah. I'm good. I'm just going to take the — I just want to go straight to it."
[00:07:51] Matthew McConaughey: Yes.
[00:07:52] Jordan Harbinger: No foreplay for me. No, thank you. Yeah.
[00:07:55] Matthew McConaughey: Indeed.
[00:07:55] Jordan Harbinger: Love the book as many others did as well. I heard your wife — you said she made you write the book. That was the quote I saw and I thought that's a weird punishment. What did he do?
[00:08:04] Matthew McConaughey: Well, she didn't make me write the book.
[00:08:06] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:08:07] Matthew McConaughey: So I've been keeping these journals for 36 years in a big treasure chest and they kept filling up. And everywhere I'd go for an extended amount of time, I'd take that treasure chest with me and set it there in my office and go, "You know what? One day, I'm opening that up, but I need some time." And I never did it. So then I got the courage to go, you know what, I'm going to do it, but I want a ghostwriter. And I had a ghostwriter come on. I met with him one time. We were going to take that book, but then he got pulled from the project. He worked for the New York Times so he got pulled from the project. He couldn't work on any — I think it was something about working celebrity memoirs.
[00:08:40] So he got pulled just as I started to go, "Well, I think I need to find another—" I noticed it in the moment. My wife noticed it at the moment and she looked at me, she goes, "You know what this means?" I went, "Yes, I do." She goes, "Get the hell out of here. Don't come back until you got something." And so she did give me the kick in the back because I was like, "No, you just got given a gift. This is what it was supposed to be all the time. You were always supposed to go write it yourself. You didn't need to have a ghostwriter." So then we went.
[00:09:06] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like you took to it pretty well. I would imagine somebody who's a good storyteller as yourself sits around and goes, "I can tell stories. I can write them down and then you write them and you go, "Huh? It's not quite the same thing."
[00:09:18] Matthew McConaughey: No, it's not. I thought it would be. Many of the stories in there — and I do tell stories. I perform the stories. I tell them over dinners, campfires, et cetera. Well, I thought that if I record the best version and just transcribe that to the page, that's the best version of the page. It was not. It was 30 percent longer than it needs to be. You don't get my innuendo. You don't get a raised eyebrow or whatever that maybe. So you got to find the right word. You got to find the right sentence.
[00:09:46] The biggest challenge is telling the stories, the early stories, you know, most of the stories, but mainly the early ones where maybe there was my mom and dad fighting or disciplining me and my brothers — got that on paper, you could go, "Aaaah! That's a horrible picture. You poor boy." But I never felt them that way. So how could I tell it when I tell you the story verbally and you see me tell it, you can tell, I'm telling a love story. I'm lighting it up. I'm talking about how we got in trouble, but if I put that on paper, you go, "Oh my gosh, that poor boy."
[00:10:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:18] Matthew McConaughey: No, this is a love story. I'm not judging him. So how could I get it without being able to show you through the spoken word how much it was a love story to me? How could I put the words on a page in a way that you could see the humanity that I see the truth in the story? That otherwise on paper would've been seen as, you know, maybe ugly stories, but they were never ugly stories to me.
[00:10:38] Jordan Harbinger: I grabbed the audiobook as I always do. And it's like, you really do need the audio version of this, even if you're not an audiobook person, because the way you tell the story is totally different. You're right. If I read an excerpt from the book in Newsweek or something I would say, "Oh my God, I had no idea he was so abused by his parents and their relationship was so dysfunctional." and then later in the book, you know from the audiobook that it wasn't like that, or at least from the sound of it, it wasn't like that. And then later in the book, you talk about how you see your family every year.
[00:11:04] Matthew McConaughey: Right.
[00:11:04] Jordan Harbinger: And you've got your brothers, you're still close to — which, by the way, it's pretty intense, there's a guy out there named Rooster McConaughey, right? Sounds like—
[00:11:12] Matthew McConaughey: Oh, yeah.
[00:11:13] Jordan Harbinger: —he is.
[00:11:14] Matthew McConaughey: Guess what his son's name is?
[00:11:16] Jordan Harbinger: What is it?
[00:11:17] Matthew McConaughey: Miller Lyte McConaughey.
[00:11:19] Jordan Harbinger: Stop. No way.
[00:11:21] Matthew McConaughey: L-Y-T-E on his birth certificate.
[00:11:23] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh. This is the uncle that teaches your kids how to blow shit up. And he's like, "Don't tell dad I showed you this one, okay?"
[00:11:29] Matthew McConaughey: No, but he's not.
[00:11:30] Jordan Harbinger: No?
[00:11:31] Matthew McConaughey: No. He is a genius of human nature. And one of the smartest people I know. Yeah, if something ever happened, their uncle's nest is the first place they go. Or if something ever happened with us, he's the first, my brother Rooster was the first place they'll go to. He's an incredible individual. Now, all those things again on paper, look like, "Oh, this must be the old dumbass redneck McConaughey brother out there." In a photograph, this is what he means — in a photograph, yes, he is that same guy that has his dirty Wranglers tucked into his boots, half cigar outside mouth, cap on and a golf shirt with a pocket because he likes to keep his pins and extra cigars in this. On the snapshot, he looks like that guy. Now he is a guy who's also lived in a double-wide trailer paying $162 rent a month. At the same time, where he was a multi-multi-millionaire. So looks would be deceiving with this guy.
[00:12:24] Jordan Harbinger: It's like inverse Beverly Hillbillies, right? Like—
[00:12:27] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah.
[00:12:27] Jordan Harbinger: —he's got none of the trappings, but he is the sharp businessman as opposed to the other way around.
[00:12:31] Matthew McConaughey: He feels sharp, yeah.
[00:12:33] Jordan Harbinger: I know your father died making love to your mother, which I mean, first of all, that's a tempting route to take, but I wanted to focus on the greater message here. Your father's passing encouraged you to take some more risks.
[00:12:43] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah.
[00:12:43] Jordan Harbinger: I'm wondering how that happened for you. Because I think a lot of people, you know, when we lose our dads as men, we feel like we've been unmoored, right?
[00:12:50] Matthew McConaughey: Right.
[00:12:51] Jordan Harbinger: And the safety net is gone and we're just drifting, no matter what age when it happens.
[00:12:55] Matthew McConaughey: Well, I was a drift and I think you do feel unmoored, but how long do you go, "Oh, I'm lost. What am I going to do?" and then when do you go, "Oh, now, it relies on me"? I don't have that safety net. Oh, I don't have that crutch. Oh, those values that he was instilling in me that maybe I was doing about 85 percent of them, I don't have that extra 15 percent that I was kind of lazy on because I knew he had my back. He is not here to have my back anymore. So I think what, you know, what came to me at that time and I remember I carved it in a tree, "Be less impressed and more involved." And that's what it was.
[00:13:34] When your father was around, there were still things that I was kind of impressed with in the mortal world and things that maybe I wouldn't take risks cause I was too impressed with them. There also things that I was condescending in life, patronizing and looking down upon. "Oh, that's not worthy." Well, pop has moved on and there's a real sobriety that comes when you lose a loved one, and specifically, when you lose a father. What I mean by sobriety is that there's a drunkenness we have in reverence for things in life. There's a drunkenness we have in looking down upon things in life. Maybe we should — the sobriety is that [whistle sound] everything I looked down upon rose up to eye-level. Everything I was revering on earth rose down to eye-level. I remember writing and thinking, "Well, the world is flat." Not literally flat but the world—
[00:14:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, careful. New York Post is going to grab that one.
[00:14:20] Matthew McConaughey: Wait, clickbait, clickbait—I remember going, I can see further. I see wider. I see more clearly. My shoulders went back. My heart got higher. My chin went up and I remember going it's you and you better be aware of what's out there and where you want to go and you better buck up and have a little more courage. It's time to turn to a man basically.
[00:14:41] Jordan Harbinger: How do you teach that to your kids? Ideally, without dying beforehand?
[00:14:44] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah, right. Hmm, I'm a big believer in self-reliance and self-determination and look at these times where right now — COVID, disruption, tragedy. Even at our level where our pantry has been full during the nine months quarantine and our kids go through it, "When's this over?" One, getting their head around, "What's this about? Why can't I see my friends? Why do I have to go without this, daddy?" "Well, you're learning self-reliance." They don't know it yet. But they've already started to double down on their individual, say for instance, hobbies, that they wouldn't have taken the time to do before if they were engaging in society, you know, in a natural way that we work before this.
[00:15:22] So they're having to get resilient. Everyone's having to get resilient in different way. Maybe this pretty specific example of the times we're in right now, hopefully, that'll help. My kids were born into an affluent position, much more than I was born to. So with that, how do you keep feeling like an underdog? How do you feel—?
[00:15:41] I tell you this, this is a good one, about work ethic. When I won the Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, they said, "What's a trophy for?" I said, "Do you remember a year ago when Popeye was going to work every morning you wake up, I was already gone to work and remember, I'd get home. You say, 'Oh, Popeye's got it. Your neck is like a giraffe. You're so skinny.'" And I go, "Well, what I was doing every day at work, then a year later, my peers deemed that excellent work and gave me a trophy for it." So that idea of delayed gratification came into their head. "Oh, you can work today, do something well today. Then you will be rewarded tomorrow."
[00:16:14] So that was a big kind of breakthrough. And I'm big on pushing delayed gratification that you can, as I talk about the book, that you can engineer GreenLights for your future by the choices and responsibilities you take today, they can give you more freedom tomorrow. But you don't do the work, you don't get the freedom.
[00:16:33] Jordan Harbinger: It's got to be kinda tough. You got to teach your kids that they've got it pretty good. And not everyone else does, but they also kind of have to own that, right? And not feel guilty about it.
[00:16:42]Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. Well, let's talk about what would be — if they have a good work ethic and they're conscientious and confident in autonomous young people going into the world as Matthew and Camilla McConaughey son — yeah famous rich and a movie star, et cetera, et cetera, all those things. But if I didn't worry about their values or teach them that, "Hey, a lot of what I've gotten is because of who I was and my work ethic and all those things I want you to be, those were first before I became whatever rich and famous or whatever that thing may be that people may tell them, "Oh, your dad is—" If I just didn't worry about pushing those values on them and just said, "Yeah. You know what? Let's just — when you get out of high school," we give them whatever they want right now, "Yeah, get some more for Christmas. We don't need to repair that toy. Let's just buy a new one. Here, have another one. You want two? Have three of them. I'm going to give you a bunch of money on your 18th birthday."
[00:17:39] Am I really giving them more freedom? I think I'm screwing them over. I think I'm being irresponsible to them. So, you know, they get told. They've had people come and go, "I bet you live in a big, nice house." They've come to us and said, "What do we say if someone says, "Because your dad's rich and famous"? I said, "Well, you hold your head up." I said, "Do not be falsely modest on them. You look them in the eye and go, 'Yeah, we actually do live in a real nice house. You know what? My dad does his best to be as good as he can at his work and his work pays him well.'" But again, that came first. I want to let them know how you get to a place, and whatever they're going to end up doing in life.
[00:18:17] Jordan Harbinger: It's amazing how the parent's insecurities then drip onto their kids who then talk to your kids that then you have to kind of like explain to them how to navigate it.
[00:18:24] Matthew McConaughey: And it is. It's the parents.
[00:18:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, of course.
[00:18:27] Matthew McConaughey: You know that young boy or young girl didn't just come up with that.
[00:18:31] Jordan Harbinger: Hell, no.
[00:18:31] Matthew McConaughey: It's their dad saying that all.
[00:18:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, zero times did I go to a friend's house before the age of 16 or 15 and go, "Wow, your house is really nice. Your parents must be rich." That makes me feel bad about myself. I was just like, "Oh, you have a pool."
[00:18:46] Matthew McConaughey: Right.
[00:18:46] Jordan Harbinger: "Awesome. You got any chips?"
[00:18:47] Matthew McConaughey: You got a satellite dish. That big thing out there — a gazebo.
[00:18:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Nobody cared about any of that. We just figured, "Oh, when I'm older, I'm probably going to have this kind of money because I'm, you know, I feel like I'm pretty smart. I got an A on that geometry test. I'm headed for this." You know, it's the parents that go, "I work 12 hours a day and we don't live in Malibu. We don't go to summer in France." That's that crap that flies through there.
[00:19:08] Matthew McConaughey: And those parents, I would say going back, did you just create more freedom for your child's future with seeing the world that way, or did you all of a sudden give them a reason to feel like maybe they're a victim when they shouldn't be.
[00:19:20] Jordan Harbinger: A Time to Kill, was that the big, big break?
[00:19:22] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah.
[00:19:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So I've heard you say you went from like 99 out of a hundred rejections. You want to do a script to 99 out of a hundred yeses.
[00:19:31] Matthew McConaughey: In
[00:19:31] Jordan Harbinger: 48 hours.
[00:19:31] In 48 hours — that's a very rapid success.
[00:19:34] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah.
[00:19:35] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me what that weekend or that week was like where — I mean, did you just kind of like walk down and get a coffee one day? And everyone's like, "Oh, Hey guy, I see her regularly." And then the next time it was like, "That's the guy from A Time to Kill."
[00:19:46] Matthew McConaughey: It wasn't coffee. It was a tuna sandwich. And it inverted, I mean, it went from 400 people in the promenade 395 minding their own business, five of them looking at me the day before. A Time to Kill open to the day after, the weekend after it opened, it inverted. 395 was staring at me, five weren't. The world became a mirror. I noticed right there immediately. Oh, I don't meet strangers anymore. There were — people would come up. I didn't know them, put their hand — I'm like, "Oh my God. I'm so sorry about Ms. Hud." And in my mind, I'm going, "Number one, who are you? Number two, how'd you know I had a dog? Number three, how'd you know, her name was Ms. Hud? Number four, how'd you know she had cancer?" And you just got four things and jumped right into my lap. I'm like, "Whoa!"
[00:20:26] So everyone — the world had a bio on me. But that's years later I understand, "Oh, that check is cashed. I'm not going to human haul that. That check has been cashed forever to some extent. It was a little unbalancing. I mean, look, and all of a sudden when all the opportunities opened up immediately, like I said, 48 hours ago, afternoon before A Time to Kill opened, I would have done any of these 100 scripts, any of them.
[00:20:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah,
[00:20:51] Matthew McConaughey: 99 answers were no. Now, here with Monday morning, A Time to Kill has done well that weekend. I would've done any of these under scripts. And now they're like 99 answers are yes, you can. Whoa. You want me to be discerning? Wait. Can I do it all? But I can't do it. That math doesn't add up. There's only 24 hours a day. I can't do all of them, but yet 48 hours ago wouldn't have done any of them. And now you're telling me I can basically do all of them. And then they're gone, "So what do you want to do?" I'm going, "Ooh, wait a minute. This one looks good. This one looks good. That look—" "Well, make a choice." I got the hell out of Dodge, man. I said, "I got to go hear myself think. I got to go get my head and my heart aligned a little bit and ask myself what matters. Read through this new time that the roof has been taken off the opportunities for me in life and say, 'What do I care about? You know? Who am I when I I'll be in told I can kind of be whoever I want to be?'" And I was 23, 24.
[00:21:42] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:21:42] Matthew McConaughey: So I checked out. I went to a monastery for a couple of weeks, went to the kind of solo backpacking trip to Peru for 22 days. Just went off to places like where nobody either knew my name or wasn't going to speak. I needed some quiet time to hear my own self think and have a little Socratic dialogue with the him and me
[00:22:01] Jordan Harbinger: For someone like me, this would result in what's called imposter syndrome. Right? You ever heard of that? Where you're like, "Do I deserve this?"
[00:22:07] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. I had heard there's a story in the book about the, all of me, where we tried to — my dad tried to get this case that I put on and his lawyer, Jerry Harris is who later on after A Time to Kill that imposter syndrome came to me and goes, "You're probably going to feel something called non-deserving complex," is what he called it. "A small town boy, you've out of Texas, 12,000 people, simple upbringing, and now this happened." And I was like, "Whatever that term is imposters, or yes, I was feeling like, 'Why me? Do I deserve this? Have I earned this?'" And it was odd. And that goes back into that less impressed, more involved.
[00:22:48] I mean, how could I not be impressed, but I was so impressed. I had to go, I got to get out of Dodge to go on my own to understand how I'm going to be involved in this. If not, this whole thing is going to wag me. And I got the opportunity to wag this dog, but right now it's going to wag me if I'm so impressed with — wow, I'm just thankful I'm here, which I was. I'm just thankful I got this opportunity but now — I mean, I don't know, I mean, any of them will be okay. Thank you. Thank you. But how did I get involved in that and go, "Now, wait a minute. I got to be more than just happy to be here."
[00:23:18] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:23:19] Matthew McConaughey: It took a while. The next two movies — that's three, one was Richard Linklater, which was a no-brainer for me because he gave me my first chance in Dazed and Confused, my first film. And the next two, I think, were Contact and Amistad. Those were deeply personal stories to me in my own life. So I called those philanthropic choices meaning — for instance, Contact, even Amistad, they're like, "McConaughey, why didn't you take him the lead role in this other movie that could be a lot more potentially commercial?" And I was like, "No, I want to work with great directors. I want to be a part of stories that I think need to be shared out there that I think will be good and healthy and constructive, almost philanthropic for society." Amistad, that story is a piece of American history and world history that I'd never heard told before. And boy, if we can package that in an entertaining piece with Spielberg, and instead of having to go do a history book and reading it in a boring way, great. I want to be a part of that.
[00:24:12] Contact, this battle between God and science, Jodie Foster was the science role. I wanted to take the believer role because I thought that, that's a story that should be exposed. Again, to show that they're not really this, that they are more of this. I come out of that, you know, understanding from my belief, science is the practical pursuit of God. And that ain't God's backyard is a whole lot bigger than I thought as a believer. It tackled a subject that I've been interested in since I was 15 years old. I wrote papers about it in college about the confluence where science and belief overlap.
[00:24:45] So those were ones that I was like, no, these are interesting to me as a person, Matthew. These are stories I want to be a part of and I'd be honored to be a part of sharing with the world.
[00:24:54] Jordan Harbinger: You're lucky you didn't throw hurdles in your own way. You see a lot of people, they get some success and they go, "Oh, I don't feel like I've earned this. Let me screw it up somehow. So I feel like I'm working harder."
[00:25:04] Matthew McConaughey: I chose certain resistances that were not probably the ones that I needed. I talked about that in the book, the art of running downhill. When I'm cruising down a hill in that old imposter syndrome or non-deserving complex comes on, I've definitely been guilty of tripping myself and face planting. Boom! By no one's doing other than my own where I'm like, "Did you really need to do that? Could you not handle the grace?" Because what you learn later on in life, which I did learn is you better damn well, appreciate running downhill because the uphill is coming. Be there. It'll balance itself out. With any ambition, you'll create an uphill for yourself. If you don't, the world will. So I did learn, be a little more graceful, feel a little — I'm not a big fan of that word "deserve". I am a fan of the word "earned".
[00:25:50] And so I had plenty of times where I was like, "Boy," I like to call it, "Hell, yeah, you have a point to prove, but don't always be trying to prove a point." I initially would try to almost ugly sabotage some of the affluence and success that I was having. Nothing bad, but just made it harder on myself because I was just trying to sift through what really matters and all this wine and champagne and red carpets and I love use and access. And yes, you can do whatever you want. Just a little bit of, "I needed resistance," and I was awkward and creating some resistance on myself sometimes.
[00:26:25] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Matthew McConaughey. We'll be right back.
[00:26:30] This episode is sponsored in part by FitTrack. The best part about a new year, one of the best parts is getting a clean slate. Speaking of clean, I've got 2021 health plans in place, just like everyone else working on the dad bod a bit here. I want to be my healthiest self. It's got to happen once you have a kid, that'll change it too. And I don't just mean losing weight. My trainer recommended FitTrack. You get in-depth insights on your fitness progress. You reach your goals faster. It's all about measuring health, not just your weight. They've got a Dara smart scale measures,17 health metrics, including BMI, hydration levels, muscle mass, all that. Saves it in an app, so you don't have to write it down in a journal. Also, you can't lie to yourself, which is — it's got its pluses and minuses. In my opinion, what gets measured gets managed. You've heard that before. And so that's where the smart scale comes in and you can add up to eight users. So we've got Jen on there. Jaden likes to weigh himself in the morning too, which is kind of fun. Don't weigh yourself in the evening. It's too depressing. Jen—
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[00:27:49] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Better Help online counseling. The new year, it's a great time for a mental health check-in. If you've always wanted to try therapy or you'd like to try it again, or you need to just talk some things out, I recommend Better Help. They offer licensed professional therapists who are trained to listen and help with issues, including anxiety, grief, depression, anger. Pretty much anything you can think of here. By the way, it's hard to tell when you're depressed sometimes, and it happens a lot during the winter, seasonal affective disorder. If any task you're doing seems overwhelming that's always a good sort of indicator that you might want to try out some therapy here. And I highly recommend you do if that's the case. Finding a therapist can often be time-consuming. It can be a little intimidating. Driving across town and parking is a little annoying. With Better Help, you fill out a questionnaire, you get matched in under 48 hours. You can do video, phone, chat all from your phone. Everything's confidential. It's really convenient. That's what I'd like to sort of highlight for you here. And if you want to switch counselors, you can do so at any time, no additional charge. Jen—
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[00:29:00] Jordan Harbinger: And now back to Matthew McConaughey on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:29:06] I know you stopped doing rom-coms, and I think a lot of people were kind of surprised about that, right? This is a while ago. First of all, prairies are dry across the Midwest. Ohio is having a drought. Matthew McConaughey is to blame. Right? And then you're thinking, do I become a teacher? Do I become a lawyer? That's got to be a tough transition, right? Because you didn't even get work for a while. There's like this gap where you must've been sweating a little bit.
[00:29:25] Matthew McConaughey: Two years. Hell yeah, I was sweating. I didn't know, man. I took a one-way ticket out of Hollywood unless the lane that was my greenlight lane in Hollywood. I was the rom-com go-to guy and the movies I did want to do, the subject matter I did want to do, the dramas I wanted to do. I was not even in the discussion for those. No matter how much I would take a pay cut, no one wanted to finance those movies with me in them. I also think that my audience wasn't ready for me in those either. I was having so much success with the rom-coms. "Whoa, don't go play that guy." "No, no, no, stay here and do this." "Be this role in the rom-com."
[00:30:03] But I remember at the time we had just had our first son Levi, and Camila and I were falling in love and my life is extremely vital. Meaning, like I laughed harder, tried harder, got angry harder. Just all my emotions were the meaning of my life was very clear and dynamic. But the work I was doing, I was like, it's not near as vital as the life you're living or the character you are in your life. And I said, "Well, you know what? That's a good thing. It's got to be one way or the other. I'm glad your life feels more vital than your work. McConaughey, you're okay." But I'd like to do some work to see if we can challenge the vitality of the life of God. Well, that work, I want to do it, they're not giving me. So I'm going to stop doing what I was doing and see what happens.
[00:30:47] What happens? Nothing but rom-com offers come in for the first six months. You know, I would read the script — nope, nothing but rom-coms. Nope, no. One came in with like a five-million dollar offer. I read it and said, "No." They came back with an eight-million dollar offer. I said, "No, thanks." They came back with a $10-million offer. I said, "No thank you. They came back with a $12.5-million offer. I said, "Ooh!" Ellipses — they came back with a $14.5-million offer. I said, "Let me read that thing again." so I read it again and ultimately said, "No."
[00:31:22] Now that did send a bit of a — I think a clear sort of lightning bolt in some way through Hollywood that this — okay, the guy is not bluffing. He's really not doing rom-coms anymore. We thought we could really bait him out of this thing. And he said no again. So then nothing came in for the next 14 months. And yeah, I did. I thought about maybe I would teach or a wildlife guide, an orchestral conductor. I don't know. Well, maybe I took my one-way ticket out of Hollywood and that was it. I'm done. And what happened? Was after 20 months of not being in a rom-com. So it wasn't in your face, in a new theater, or in your living room, in a new rom-com. It was also a time where I'd moved to Texas so you no longer saw me shirtless on the beach,paparazzi shots. Right? Because those two had become sort of like, "Oh, McConaughey's living the life of his rom-com guy in real life and shirtless on the beach." And I was always like, "Yes, you're damn right. I'm shirtless on the beach and those rom-coms pay the rent for the houses and run shirtless on the beach. Yes. Thank you." No, I had no non-deserving imposter syndrome. That was like, "You damn right!" And I was enjoying my life.
[00:32:23] But I then moved to Texas, no beaches and given no rom-com, so then it became a little bit of a, I guess, and then I only learned this on hindsight is, "Where is McConaughey? What's he doing?" Hell, nobody knew where I was. I was forgotten. So in being forgotten, I found some anonymity and through the anonymity, all of a sudden 20 months after saying no to Hollywood rom-coms, well now I became a new novel. Interesting, good idea for Lincoln Lawyer and Killer Joe, Paperboy, Magic Mike, Bernie, True Detective, Dallas Buyers Club. I became a new good idea because people hadn't seen me. So I unbranded to then 20 months later, rebrand. As soon as those came to me, after 20 months and those scripts came to me, I was like, this is exactly what I want to do. And so with that success and affluence this time around, I wasn't like I was in '96, "It's time to go" I wasn't like, "Oh my gosh." I was like, "No, I know I want to do this and watch this." And I remember also saying, "F the bucks,I'm going for the experience."
[00:33:32] Jordan Harbinger: That's got to be tough though, man. I can just — you know, some days you're just standing in the mirror going, you know, "Damn you six-pack abs pigeonholing my career." You don't know if you're going to get another check.
[00:33:42] Matthew McConaughey: No. And hey, you know, you're sitting around — I got to work for a sense of significance. So Camila and I talked about it before. I said I'm going to take all this time off and we didn't know how long it could go. I was like, "I'm going to get wobbly." I mean days are going to feel like too many Saturdays in a row. I can make a tire out of any of this. You know what I mean? So what I was going to keep my feet on the ground, you know? How do you keep from going, "Oh, maybe it's time for a drink." And you're like, "No, not yet. It's getting earlier. Slow down." For whatever that is the days were long, many days were long.
[00:34:14] What I had though, again, fortunately was my newborn son.I had property to piddle around on. I was falling in love with Camilla. And we also had a family crisis come up. We also had a family crisis where you drop whatever you're doing. You know. "I got to go handle this." And that clarity gave me quite a bit of purpose. Because I was looking for — give me some clear — I'm in limbo right now. You look for some clarity. I found identity and going, "I need to — for however long it takes, to go help handle this situation with my family."
[00:34:44] And so actually when those scripts did come my way, 20 months later, I hadn't even been thinking about going back to Hollywood, I was going back to my — getting my career going to Hollywood again was like third or fourth in line of my priorities at that time.
[00:34:58] Jordan Harbinger: How do you decide what to say no to now? Because there's got to be — not only you're juggling your own priorities, but you've got to resist the influence of other people who want you to do those things. Like your agents, like man, $14.5 million — he's thinking about his beach house now, you know?
[00:35:12] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. Well, I don't have anyone in my life that as far as I know that — everyone that I work with knows me well enough that, that number, cash money is never going to be the thing that sways me. I like a good number. You damn right I do. That excites me. Like I said, that 14.5 — let me read it again.
[00:35:32] Jordan Harbinger: Better script this time — glows, hovers above the table.
[00:35:35] Matthew McConaughey: It was a better script. It was a more well-written man. I found more angles to this. I could make this work. That's the same words as the first script, but it was better written for sure. I'm at a point where I don't really want to do — I'm not interested in doing one-offs like I used to do it. Meaning go off work, it's a one-off, but that's payday, but it's that thing and it's not in the line of the vision and the direction I'm heading. So I would say, call that a legacy choice. I want to do is go, "Okay, could this choice have legs? Even if it's worth of acting, which I'm into other things as well now. Will it have legs? Will it be something that 10 years from now that could still be alive?" Can I build something that's not just encapsulated putting a screen in front of you one off. And oh yeah, that was that picture you did in 2020. No, does it have legs? There's so many different ways that my life and my life's work are connected. I want them all to be interrelated now going forward.
[00:36:27] So how can they stay alive throughout the rest of my life? How can I create greenlight, which I call a solar-powered greenlight, that makes choices that will shine after I am gone. So I'm thinking much more long term now. I'm sure, you know, I'm 51, I've got three children and family. My life is not all about, I need new goals. I need new things to do. My life is already quite full with saying, "Now, how can I have the roots grow wider and deeper with what I've already built?" These things are evolving as a parent, as a husband and a family, our foundation. These are things that are built that I'm not going to be foolish with because they can grow deeper and wider.
[00:37:07] It will be one of those solar-powered greenlights I'm talking about. So it's not always that new thing. I'm at a place now where I've got to feel like I've got enough established in my direction where I want to go. That now it has to be something that feeds into the lane I've already created for myself, which is a pretty wide lane but still these have to feed into that.
[00:37:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I hear what you're saying? It rings true for me personally. I have a kid. He's 17 months old, so I'm a new dad. It's weird because, of course, everyone says, "It's going to change your whole life, man. It's going to change your whole life." And you go, "Yeah. Yeah. I know because everyone tells me." And then you have the kid and you go, "This is what everyone's talking about." I don't care about — I don't want to leave for four months and go do something because I'm going to miss all this stuff. I had a nightmare before for this interview because I always do that and it was about Interstellar and I go, "That's why that scene is so important because he's missing out on his kid growing up. That's why the scenes—" When I watched it, when I was I don't know 20-something. I was probably like, "Oh yeah, that's a bummer. He's stuck in space." Right? But it's about missing your kid's life. That's why it's tragic.
[00:38:09] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah, exactly. You know, so your life does change. I mean, look, it's one of those I don't know about you — but the people give — are you married?
[00:38:17] Jordan Harbinger: I'm married. Yeah.
[00:38:17] Matthew McConaughey: Okay, people give you and your wife a lot of books—
[00:38:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:38:21] Matthew McConaughey: Did you find that a little condescending?
[00:38:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, especially when it's from somebody who's like on their third marriage and stuff and their kids hate them and I'm like,"Why are you giving me this book? This did not work for you.
[00:38:32] Matthew McConaughey: I mean, we had stacked books. It kept going. I think the rule ought to be that the mother and father ought and should be able to ask. Just coming up and going, "Now, sit down. I want to tell you why this book you must read about parenting." And then yeah, your mind goes to those things. You're like, "Their kids are kind of misbehaving all the time. I'm not—"
[00:38:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah,
[00:38:51] Matthew McConaughey: —whatever that is, but then you have a child and I want to ask you this because I found that that first six months, if not longer, after the first child — is this your first one?
[00:39:01] Jordan Harbinger: It's my first and only, yeah.
[00:39:02] Matthew McConaughey: Okay.
[00:39:03] Jordan Harbinger: So far.
[00:39:04] Matthew McConaughey: A man never feels more masculine than at that time. And I think it's in what you were just saying. You just know all of a sudden, whatever your priorities were, you have literally one thing, one you've just become more biologically to — you just hand off the baton, started forming mortality. But, two, it's very clear — it's not an intellectual exercise — it's clear instincts so that you now have something that depends on you. More than your wife even. Your wife—
[00:39:28] Jordan Harbinger: She'd be all right.
[00:39:29] Matthew McConaughey: She's going to make it. She was doing probably okay before she met you and mine was too. You have something now. You're like, "No, I have real responsibility here. And this creature, this living being relies on me. So that thing that maybe I held it for a topic — career was one at least goes down to two, maybe down to three. And what I found is that's when I got better at my career. That when it moved down when it wasn't the top of what I saw as my responsibility or my identity or purpose, when it moved down the ladder as number three, I became better at it.
[00:40:06] Jordan Harbinger: Why do you think that is?
[00:40:07] Matthew McConaughey: I think it goes back a little bit to that original thing we're talking about. Less impressed, more involved. When you hold something in such reverence, are we really as involved as we can be? Is it easier to say no? The power of saying no to things — no, I'm not going to wait. Like you just said, "I'm not going away for four months." You get empowered now. And whatever industry you're surrounded in and your competition, you gain power when you go, "I'm not doing that for four mounts." Your representatives, other companies, sponsors go, "Whoa. Okay. Jordan's like — he's kind of saying, this is where his shit is going. He knows his identity. He's got his purpose. He's going with, or without us."
[00:40:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'm not doing rom-coms.
[00:40:43] Matthew McConaughey: This is not negotiable. He did not ask permission. All of a sudden they're like, "Whoa, I like this guy." Your equity just went up. Also your power of choice. I found out I started working smarter, not harder. Now, again, I don't think you can — this theory, I don't think you can throw it on just anybody, because if somebody doesn't have a work ethic and you tell them they can put that priority of the job down to number three, a lot of people go, "Ooh, all right. I'm taking off." You know what I mean? But if you're like, "No, no, no, no. I still want it as much as I did at number one. But I just have other things that I know I need even more." It's sort of like that — and there's a name for this. When you're doing a simple motor skill. They say when you drive — I get my best ideas on the road.
[00:41:23] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah, the default mode. Where you're in the shower and you're like, "I got this."
[00:41:27] Matthew McConaughey: You got it because you're performing a simple act. For me, it's driving. I got my hands on the wheel. I didn't think about the last time about staying in the lane. Got my foot on the pedal. I'm going in this speed limit but I hadn't even thought about it. But those two things release a simple motor skill, release a certain creativity. In a way, moving it from priority one to three and you have things that you know that you are responsible for and that needs you, all of a sudden, you can release that a lot of identity creativity.
[00:41:52] Jordan Harbinger: Have you seen that chart where it's like they show Mozart and Albert Einstein, all these geniuses, Thomas Edison, and it shows you what percentage of the day they spend walking. And it's like, every single one was 45 to an hour and 45 minutes a day walking. And they all write about it in their journals. Like, "On a walk today, I thought of this light bulb."
[00:42:10] Matthew McConaughey: Yes.
[00:42:11] Jordan Harbinger: Literally the light bulb in Edison's case.
[00:42:13] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah, now people — I get asked all the time, so you know, "When you think about this? And I go, "What I think about?" I won't go — I'm not going to go up in this conversation and go to my office and sit down and go it's time to think. I am going to walk around and go do things in my day and have this on my mind and see how it pops up with different perspectives that I have in the world and see if it keeps coming to my mind in different ways, but I'm not gonna go away and go, "Okay, I have an hour now. I'm going to think about this." That's a dead end for me.
[00:42:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:41] Matthew McConaughey: My wife is always like, "You will not sit down when you're on the phone." I was like, no. Love pacing back and forth. Love cruise. I love putting on the headphones and taking a walk. Yeah.
[00:42:51] Jordan Harbinger: It's impossible for me to get anything of consequence done sitting still. I don't know if it's just the way I'm wired or what, but it's absolutely true. When you are — when you're acting, when you're playing a part, do you go in having a very strong vision or idea for what you're going to do and the results that you want? Or do you just sort of — does it come out of you in the moment because you've prepped for the role so well? Are you becoming that person? Are you becoming that role somehow?
[00:43:13] Matthew McConaughey: It's a combination and not just with acting roles, but I've had a lot of success by writing the headline first and then heading towards the headline. I also had a lot of great success in going, "I'm prepared, but now I'm going to jump off the cliff and figure out how to fly on my way down." Or jump in the proverbial pool in the pitch-black and go, "I don't know what's down there, but I'm just going to trust that I come up the other side with something." Now I come in preparations where I think a lot of reason in whatever aspects I've gotten ahead or done work, that one would deem excellent work because of the preparation. I learned that lesson the hard way. I'd always had a good work ethic but I had an odd idea years back that I wouldn't prepare at all because I felt like I was overpreparing. But actually what I was doing, I learned in hindsight, I wasn't preparing the right way. So I decided I wasn't going to even read the script or read the scene and just go be my man in the scene and it kicked me in the face. It was an incredibly embarrassing moment.
[00:44:10] Jordan Harbinger: That was a Scorpion Spring or something like that. Is that what it was?
[00:44:14] Matthew McConaughey: Yes, sir.
[00:44:15] Jordan Harbinger: So what happened there? Because this is a pretty funny anecdote of not preparing.
[00:44:18] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. So I was going through a little time earlier in my career where I just thought about for a year, I wasn't getting the gigs. I would get the first audition, get a call back, and third callback, but then mind you and I can tell, every time I left the audition, I was, "Aah, you left something in the bag." You had that moment, you could have taken that risk. And because you thought about it and tried to get contextual with it and got objective on yourself in that time, you missed the opportunity. It was over. So that kept going on.
[00:44:42] So also for the first time,I started dabbling in learning what acting was — which I never took acting classes. I had instincts for it and know what it was. So I get this bright idea after I get this blind offer for this one day role in this movie, Scorpion Spring. And I didn't have to audition for it. I got the job and I told myself, I said, "You know what your problem is, McConaughey? You're thinking too much. You're starting to intellectualize — trying to intellectualize what you've always instinctually know how to do. And you're getting in your own way. You need to go back to how you were in the beginning, when your career first started and a film called Dazed and Confused where you had three lines written in the script and you ended up working three weeks because you knew your man. You just did what your man David Wooderson would do. And you would just work pulled into scenes and would just act normally. And it was so easy, it's just music.
[00:45:33] So my bright ideas, I'm not going to read this script of Scorpion Spring. I'm not even going to read the scene. I'm just going to know what my man — who my man is and I'll just do what he would do." So I show up on set. I'm dressed in character. All I got was the logline of the character. All I studied was there's a drug run on the Southern border. The coyotes are bringing drugs over. He instead of paying them, kills them all and takes the drugs, and goes. That's all I knew. So I was like, "I'll just be that guy. Do what that guy would do." Now, cut two, live, I'm on set on my mark. We're about to shoot that scene. I've not read the script nor read the scene. Right before I'm about to do the tags, a production assistant walks by and goes, "Mr McConaughey would you like some slides?" Which is a miniature version of that day scene and evidently I was starting to feel a little shaky in my boots about my grand plan of not appearing at all, because I said, "Yeah, I'd like to see slides.
[00:46:24] So I got some slides and my thought was, I remember thinking this, "Well, if it's written well, I mean, that's obviously what my guy would say and what I was going to say anyway. And if it's not written well, I'll just do what I would do, just be my man." I opened up to page one, page two, page three, page four. And then I looked up into no one in particular and every one in particular on the set, I said, "Can I get 12 minutes?" The thought was 12 minutes would not be enough time to inconvenience the crew. My other thought was 12 minutes might be enough time to learn a four-page monologue in Spanish. Well, I was right on the first part. I was wrong on the second. It did not inconvenience the crew, but it was not enough time to learn a four-page monologue in Spanish, even though I had taken Spanish in one semester, mind you—
[00:47:19] But I came back — I don't know what I did in the scene. I don't know what I did, but I do remember the bead of sweat going down the back of my neck and the embarrassment I felt of not being prepared. And from that day on is when I learned, no, you over prepare. You know there's that awkward bridge when we left to learn something where we have the instinct for. You see it in athletes all the time. You're bringing a new defensive coordinator with a really heady book of the defensive schemes. Pretty good bet that, that team's not going to have a good defense that first year. Because you see players thinking, they're having to what they instinctually knew how to do you seem thinking, and if you're thinking on the field, the wide ass past you, right?
[00:47:59] Well, that was the same way with me. I was becoming conscious of what I had instincts to do, but what I learned is that to learn a new craft, you've got to just go through that awkward period and power through it because all of a sudden it starts to slip from your head, to your body, to your gut, your heart, your lungs, your feet, and all of a sudden it does become instinctual with working on something with repetition and working on over, over, and trying to understand it. So you took a couple of years to get past that. And then I found a mentor teacher who I worked with for 19 years, Penny Allen, who I continued to work with weekly for those 19 years while she was alive in my career.
[00:48:30] Jordan Harbinger: How do you avoid letting what other people think of your work? So movies, even this book affect the way that you perceive yourself. It's easy to spout some platitudes here and say, "You got to be your own man."
[00:48:41] Matthew McConaughey: For sure.
[00:48:41] Jordan Harbinger: That's always easier said than done, especially for somebody in the public eye. Look, we all do this, but if you're a CPA or a nurse or something like that, you're still doing this. You don't have to be an actor. We always conflate our body of work with our identity. Maybe not all of us. I certainly do.
[00:48:56] Matthew McConaughey: I mean, yeah. I mean, look, I talked to my kids who are wanting to get into social media and asking about this, and that, and the other. And we're like, "Yeah, I'm not sure yet is the time." Because now what do we do? We get to put something on their own, out into the world, then wait, anticipating, "Well, get a bunch of thumbs up. I'm going to have a great day because I'm confident now. And they all like me." "Oh, boy, I'd get a bunch of thumbs down. Now, I'm depressed all day." That's not the place to go to get your identity, but it does affect them. And I've asked myself. Does a good review make me feel better than a bad review? You damn right it does. Does it make me feel more confident? In certain ways, sure. Does it validate? Sure.
[00:49:36] I did do this about 15 years ago. I got my publicist and said, "Look, get all my reviews. I don't want the good, all the bad reviews, every movie and every performance I've ever done." And I took them away for a weekend with myself. That's all I had was the bad reviews.
[00:49:52] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man.
[00:49:53] Matthew McConaughey: And what I did notice is that. I can tell usually from the very first line, if the person had it in for me anyway, that maybe it didn't matter if they saw the movie. They were coming in. "I don't like this guy." Then I saw some that didn't like my performance, that I was like, they were very constructive about it. It wasn't about snark. You can sniff snark. You know that person's got it in for you. Hey, snark sells. The board has really good constructive criticism and I go, "Huh? I get it. Yeah. Maybe what I was intending to do in this performance was not actually what I did. And even if it was what I did, it's not how it was recorded and received." So there's a gap there. Then I started to notice that those gaps between intention actually doing what's being recorded and how someone receives it. I've always wanted to be on a goal of how do we decrease those gaps, where the intention is actually what is being received. Not only in movies, in acting, but in life in general, because there can be huge gaps in those. Look, the good ones I've enjoyed — I usually enjoy reading my reviews. I do like the good ones better than the bad ones. I've learned — I laughed at certain bad ones. And then also try to go, "Okay, what are they getting? They're actually on — they're on to something. What can I learn about this?"
[00:51:09] Here's the thing with news today though — why it goes wide so rampantly, so fully, this is what's odd about it. It may not as much change how I feel about myself, but gosh, when I walk out the door and go into the world, I can feel a consensus of people looking at me differently because I'm like, "Are they clicked on that bait? They didn't read that whole article. They've clicked on that clickbait. They took that. And boy, my reality, what I intended to do and what was received, there was a gap because somebody in the middle rearranged it maybe or told the fifth.
[00:51:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:51:44] Matthew McConaughey: You know what I mean? So now I'm like, "Damn it. You just trespassed." I just got my life trespassed on by somebody not telling the truth or lines we were talking about earlier, grabbing a piece and rewording something. But then it's just like, say if someone doesn't like it, then that's easier. That's easier if somebody just goes, "Not for me." Then I know. I mean, look, my favorite word is unanimous. It's the word I'm chasing and will always chase knowing that there ain't no way I'm ever going to get, but I want to continue to chase it.
[00:52:15] So it pinches a little bit when a bad review or what have you. And sometimes it's like, "Oh, I wish I could explain it." No, no, not, not yet, that ship already sailed. I can't really explain it to them if it didn't need — if something is put up in a true way, it doesn't need explanation. But then I think just decide for who's out the snark, who didn't like me anyway, going in, and then who actually is giving constructive criticism when they're giving a bad review. That's kind of how I look at it.
[00:52:41] Jordan Harbinger: It's got to be tough not to blend those worlds together, especially when, if you're bringing the work beyond your intellectual mind. Right? You're bringing it into being in order to really crush the role. That seems like it would blend everything together even more. Because before, if you're just like a rom-com guy or something and you're like, "Eeh,", and they're like, "I don't like it. It's cheesy." You're like, "Well, yeah, it is. It's kind of cheesy," but that's the point.
[00:53:01] Matthew McConaughey: Right.
[00:53:02] Jordan Harbinger: But if it's like, "You know, his work is — I just didn't find him believable at all in this role. And they just picked the wrong guy," and you're just like, "Shit."
[00:53:10] Matthew McConaughey: Right.
[00:53:10] Jordan Harbinger: "That's me up there though. I'm not a Marvel character up there. That's me up there.
[00:53:15] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. You got to unpack some of those things that we were talking about earlier. Like when I said, when you got a wrong comeback. You know, I get asked about Dallas Buyers Club, "How do you lose all the weight?" I was like, "What do you mean? One is it's my responsibility. Two, I would've been embarrassed." If I look like I do now and you see the opening scene in Dallas Buyers Club, you're out of the movie. Like, "Bullshit. He ain't got it." You're out of the movie. That's on me. That would have been my fault. All right. Well, do that work then hopefully, you know, act well enough that you go, "Oh, I'm into this," because I'm into this guy, Ron Woodroof. "Oh, and McConaughey is playing Woodruff," but if, "Oh, I'm seeing McConaughey, I just don't see — who's this character again? Well, uh-oh, we got off on the wrong foot." You know what I mean? So again, I like it when it's unanimous. I know it's not ever going to be, but I'll say, look — I'll say this, the more selfish and personal that I have gotten with my work, the less I've asked permission, the better results I have gotten, better reviews I got.
[00:54:14] And because I wasn't going after approval, because I wouldn't go after, "Oh, I hope they liked this. Oh, I think this can really be—" No, I just had my head down and it was like, "I'm doing this for me. I'm doing this for me from my own experience." I ain't checking in with everybody else. I don't give a damn how it lays. I'm playing this game for me — more people related to it. That's the other thing that I think we often see as a contradiction and whatever our life or career is, even personal relationships. It's got to be personal. You can go even more personal sometimes, but we think that, "Oh, when you get, if you get too personal, then you're too selfish, then you're being selfless or then you're being callous to the rest." No, no, not really. There's a place where actually the more personal you get is the more selfless you're getting.
[00:55:06] The more personal I've gotten in my work, the more people related to it. We talked about earlier offline with the book. You're like, "How are you enjoying the book tour?" I said, "Man, I am. It's eight weeks in, but people are having a different take on the subjects that I've written. So it's a new conversation each time where a lot of people are relating to it." The more personal I got, the more relatable it became. The more individuals outside of myself were able to make it personal to them. That's the beautiful reciprocity. If you go in going, "I want to do something to make sure the audience likes it." Well, if you're going in to that objective point of view, and you're really dropping your anchor on that. You can pull it off. I think there's great value in knowing who your audience is and what you're selling and what do you want the outcome to be, yeah. I pulled things off like that as well. But if you sit in that objective place, one, usually the audience can sniff it. They can tell—
[00:55:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:55] Matthew McConaughey: No, you came in pandering to me. I didn't want you to pander to it. I actually liked it better when you didn't even invite me in. It made me kind of want to come see what you're doing a little bit more. I don't know. It's a constant balance, but I mean, you know, I like to talk about this subjective even objective, and now where we can live in the third-person objective more than effort. So as we talked about our social media, our life is a jumble. There's a jumbotron around all lives, not just me as a famous person. So I'm a fan of speaking in third person. I go, "What Mcconaughey's been doing?" Well. It's another form of awareness. It's like, "Oh, let's get in the third eye and have a look back down and see how we're looking or the landscape is."
[00:56:34] But what I think we do sometimes. And I've done it too, so I'll stay there too long and not come back to the subject. If wear blinders are on, don't give a damn about what I look, what it looks like. I'm doing it. Press record. No, I don't want to go to the monitor and have a look at what I just did. I did it. Move on. You tell me later on. So I don't want to get objective. So I think we live in the objective too long sometimes. And I don't think we should do that at the expense of coming back to the subjective where you're going like, I'm in the process. I'm in the game. I don't know what the score is. I didn't ask permission. I'm not planning on where I'm going to go celebrate after the victory because I didn't even know the game.I don't even know when the damn thing game's over. That's where I've found that we get — I find that we get more results.
[00:57:21] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Matthew McConaughey. We'll be right back.
[00:57:27] This episode is also sponsored in part by LifeLock. It's a new year. And that usually means one thing. New year's resolutions, that most of us are going to have a hard time keeping. One resolution that you should keep and you'll be glad you did is get LifeLock identity theft protection. One out of every five Americans have been affected by identity theft, which is kind of bananas if you think about it. This year, you could miss certain identity threats by just monitoring your credit and bank statements. If that's all you're doing, you might not find out if your social security number is for sale on the dark web. I've seen mine on there. That was cute. And if LifeLock detects your information being used in their network, they'll send you an alert. I like the idea of LifeLock watching my back, alerting me whenever there's a large transaction or a credit card is open under my name. And if anything happens, you get LifeLock's insurance. Basically you have their experts helping you restore your identity. You don't have to do all that crap yourself, which is frankly, it can be really overwhelming.
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[00:58:39] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Echelon fit. It's the new year folks, you know what that means fitness — and I make this joke every time, but I don't mean fit this entire slice of cheesecake into my gut. I've done plenty of that last year. Talking about getting in shape, hitting those fitness goals, feeling great about yourself. I'm managing the dad bod in 2021 as I mentioned earlier and Echelon can get you there. Echelon offers the next generation of connected fitness bikes, fitness mirrors, rowing machines. And there are Echelon strides, smart treadmills. So no matter what your favorite fitness activity is, Echelon can you view a fun and challenging workout from the comfort of home. No excuses when you can wake up and do your workout, although you'll still find some, if you're anything like me. Echelon has world-class instructors, that'll motivate you with thousands of daily live and on-demand studio level classes, always available when you need them. And one membership lets up to five family members all work out at the same time. Try any echelon fitness equipment at home for 30 days.
[00:59:34] Jen Harbinger: Go to echelonfit.com/jordan. That's E-C-H-E-L-O-N-fit.com/jordan.
[00:59:41] Jordan Harbinger: Thanks so much for listening to this show. I work hard at creating it. My health team does. Your support of our advertisers keeps us going. We put all the discounts, all the deals, all the codes in one place. If you want to buy something you hear about on the show, go to jordanharbinger.com/deals, and please do consider supporting those who support us and make this all possible. By the way, we've got worksheets for every episode, the worksheet for today's episode is in the show notes. That has drills exercises, any major takeaway from a guest, all in one place. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Now, for the conclusion of our episode with Matthew McConaughey.
[01:00:17] You've got this concept that you're your own — that your hero is you in 10 years. Can you discuss that a little bit? Talk to that a little bit. Because I think there's brilliance in that, but I want to know how you set it up. Are you actively planning who you'll be in 10 years and how are you doing it? Writing it down? What's the process?
[01:00:35] Matthew McConaughey: No, I'm not. This is not one of those where I've got the headline written down. I don't have a headline written down for me. I'm 51 now. I don't have her headline written down 61. It's more of a very active engagement with ourselves. If our heroes are always us in 10 years, we're not a day closer tomorrow, bump to 10 years from tomorrow and so on, and so on, and so on. It's based on a theory I have, which is chasing yet. It goes back to that word unanimous I was working on earlier. Favorite word, no, I'm never going to get there. So look at it personally, and maybe look at us as a nation, United States. We're all chasing yet. We're not going to have perfect equality in America. I'm going to have this utopia that we hope and dream of. But what we can do a little bit better in small increments each day and have a small ascension and evolution in our lives as individuals, as people, as a nation. And if we can get a little bit better and keep chasing that knowing we're never going to arrive, that would never be unanimous. It never will be the utopia. We never do have that, ta-da,got-it moment. If we can go — well, that's the point. You never get it. You just keep chasing it for as long as you can. Get your eight seconds in this rodeo bull ride called life and that's as good as it gets.
[01:01:59] So that's what I mean is that it's an aspiration, our lives are aspirations. We're individually aspirations. America is an aspiration and we've got the opportunity to chase yet. That's it. Stay in the race, commit to the chase of chasing yet. That's as good as it gets. That's the game that we're all in. But shake hands with — we never get there. So when you get to that point, so you will go, "Oh, then what's the point?" "We'll go, "Well, let's look at the alternatives." The alternative sucks. That's it. You stay in the race. You never win the whole game. That's life.
[01:02:34]Jordan Harbinger: You're an introspective guy, right? You've tried to — I hate this phrase, but I'm going to use it anyway because I can't think of anything better — you try to find yourself by going to Africa.
[01:02:42] Matthew McConaughey: Find my frequency.
[01:02:43] Jordan Harbinger: Find your frequency, right? Like it seems like I wonder you grew up, you know, a believer you still are. Did you feel restricted when you were younger? And when you got older, you needed to break out of that. What kind of got you thinking, "I need to find my frequency," in the first place?
[01:03:01] Matthew McConaughey: Uh, like spiritually?
[01:03:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah.
[01:03:03] Matthew McConaughey: Well, yeah, I did have felt restrictions earlier, but I mean about that early in the theory, I've gotten the book about Conservative Early, Liberal Late. Yeah. I learn to block and tackle before you do something, get up and go play wide at, to use another sports analogy. Follow these rules or else consequences. Ooh, it should be more than the Old Testament. Oh my gosh, consequences, fire brimstone. Oh my gosh. Fear-based ,where's value in that? Later on then I think we all in a metaphorical term become more to New Testament. We then become individuals that go forward and start to look affirmations and, "Hey, what can I be thankful for," instead of doing something that, of like, I don't want to do that for fear of, we find things in life to go, "No, I want to go towards that for the pleasure or for the need of or because I want that. So that's a little more analogically, if that's a word that's a little more New Testament, grew up methods. We were about gratitude and a lot about thanks and always.
[01:04:00] You know, I had my agnostic years where I said, "Uh-uh," but they were less for me about saying, "I don't believe in God," and more about me going, "You quit letting yourself off the hook McConaughey because every time you screw up, you drop it into this fadeless, sort of like, "Forgive me. It's time to forgive." And then I'm looking at myself going, "Well, why do you keep being a repeat offender, man?" Because you get to go on Sundays and go, "Ooh, I'm free with a clean slate again." No, I'm tired of you letting yourself off the hook because you're trying to take advantage of this. So I was calling myself out to go, "You better put your damn hands on the wheel." And I had to say, "Don't rely on belief. Don't rely on faith. Don't rely on fate. Be self-determining, self-reliant. Use your free will. It's on you. What if this is it? What if at the end of this life is we're racing to the red light, man? Full stop and spent quite a few years in that place. And those are very healthy for a few years.
[01:05:00] I got more self-reliant. I put myself on the stand. I judge myself. I decided what I forgive myself for and what I was going to say no more. The bus stops here. We're not doing that anymore. I. Consider myself an optimistic mystic in life now as a believer. Also, my feeling was when I've prayed and I had quiet times or not even thought about it, that the God I believe in was actually up there going, "There you go, good boy. Good boy. That's right. Because a lot of people may be relying on me too much or go, you know, "Inshallah!" "C'est la vie." "If God wills it." Well, now wait a minute. A lot of us quit things or go, "Take our hands off the wheel," to find solace and safety and going, "God got us. The plan's written." Well, now wait a minute. I believe God wants our hands on — if you are a believer, I believe that God wants our hands on the wheel. If not, go run every red light out there and see what happens.
[01:06:00] Jordan Harbinger: It's that analogy of — or the parable of the person who's drowning in the ocean, right, and prays?
[01:06:06] Matthew McConaughey: Yes or the tornado — get quick, boy, run.
[01:06:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly. The boat comes by and he's like, "No, I'm waiting for God to save me." And he's like, "I sent three boats," that parable. I'll have to get it for the end of the show because if I try to get it now, it's going to be a disaster.
[01:06:20] Matthew McConaughey: It's a good one.
[01:06:21] Jordan Harbinger: What's this I hear about you getting into a cage with a mountain lion? When I heard that story, I went, did that happen or is this like the psychedelics happen? And then that story happened somewhere. Was there ever a cage? Was there a cage with a mountain lion?
[01:06:34] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah, I mean, it was a big one. It wasn't like a caged—
[01:06:36]Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[01:06:37] Matthew McConaughey: —mountain lion. It was about 25 feet long, 10 feet high, about 15 feet wide. So he had room to move. I wasn't struggling there with a mountain lion. I did get into that — I don't mess with him though. And it took about an hour and a half, two hours for him to slowly pace. It's just like a cat with you. Slowly pace and slowly inch closer, slowly inch closer, slowly closer until he came up and at about three hours, two and a half hours, I had some them purring in my lap.
[01:07:09] Jordan Harbinger: You're lucky to be here telling that story, I think.
[01:07:12] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. It made sense at the time. It's one of those ones — but I was not under an influence of any kind of drug that may have gotten out of reality or I'm not under the influence of any kind of drug that was making me feel like I was Superman. It wasn't that. Now mind you, on paper, I look back that and I go, "Damn, McConaughey, really? Would you do that again?" Well, I don't know. I sure wouldn't go, "This is what I do. I'll go practice it down." No, that was a time and place where at that moment, and in that day, and in that circumstance, that felt like something that I can pull off and did. But not something that you go, "Okay, well show me. Do it again." No, no, no, wait a minute. It was a special set of circumstances.
[01:07:51] Jordan Harbinger: Hell of a party trick, but no, thanks. Yeah, probably a one-time performance.
[01:07:55] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah.
[01:07:56] Jordan Harbinger: That kind of thing psychedelics and the internal exploration, that stuff is sort of trending right now and I'm of two minds. Right? I've really enjoy exploring those things. I think it's a great thing to be explored and studied, but there's a part of me that worries that people are using those instead of doing hard work or they're using it to cover up.
[01:08:16] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah.
[01:08:16] Jordan Harbinger: They don't go on the walkabout. They just go in someone's basement who's a stockbroker and on a Saturday, he's a shaman.
[01:08:22] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. Or I can become a shaman at 15 minutes online. Or a priest, "You want to get married? I can marry you. Give me 15 minutes—"
[01:08:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:08:29] Matthew McConaughey: —I become one right now." It's a little bit bastardizing the healthy use of some of these things. Like I, in Mexico, went on a walk with Ayahuasca with a shaman. We went for at sunrise for a five-mile hike of a mountain. And the old thing walk the dog, he disseminates me in very small bits. Like every mile we'd stopped. And we were doing a physical activity, which is very good. Your circulation is going your sweat and you got drinking water. My body was clean, pure. It was going. And so that was that. It's not something you want to go, "Hey, Saturday night—" No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That's not the main app. I hear you, man. I mean, a lot of — I know people that look at certain psychedelics as entertainment or, "Oh, I want to go deeper into the the fun."
[01:09:19] And you know what? Probably now with all this COVID and people cooped up, people are looking for news —the assets of them as like a Joseph Campbell or someone would talk about. They can sometimes give you help with a new perspective, a new way of viewing certain things in your own life, which can be healthy. But I think they do need to be done. I think that there they're much — it's much better to do them responsibility and figure out where and how. Because it's probably not a good experience or the experience that you could get from them if they're not done that way.
[01:09:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I feel like it's easy to have great experiences on them until you don't. And then that might even undo all the benefits that you've received.
[01:09:59] Matthew McConaughey: Well, that's kind of the problem with all drugs, isn't it?
[01:10:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:10:03] Matthew McConaughey: Sometimes it's not what somebody does on them. It's what they become of them. And you're like, "Oh, you should do that once every six months of Vegas. Now, I need it at about three months." Then after three months, then once every month, then it turns to once every week, that turns into a habit, that Saturday night. "No, Friday is good night too. But I'll tell you what, for off work Monday. Maybe we can go Friday, Saturday, Sunday." It just starts to compress. They don't have residuals, you know? Yeah, when someone is not on them and starts to feel the discomfort with a sober reality is when it can really become a problem.
[01:10:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you definitely. Did you feel like you were in any danger of overindulgence, not any particular substance, but there's this 18-month stint you've spent at Chateau Marmont that you talk about in the book that I think a lot of people probably talk about, even in Hollywood. And it's funny, I was telling a friend about this and he goes, "What would you do at Chateau Marmont for 18 months?" And I was like, "A lot of eggs benedict, a lot of eggs benedict."
[01:11:05] Matthew McConaughey: They got a great pasta there too.
[01:11:08] Jordan Harbinger: I would hate to be housekeeping at Chateau Marmont cleaning it up the McConaughey suite, just hollandaise sauce everywhere.
[01:11:15] Matthew McConaughey: No, I kept my suite high and tight. My suite was high and tight. It was me and my dog. And I had actually a very small suite and my suite was not the party suite. Other suites sometimes but my suite is pretty much, usually that was my own particular stuff that I kept. My bed was made.
[01:11:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I think he probably had to have that in order to stay grounded at some level. Right? Did you feel like, all right, I got to stop this because there's no more to this. I guess I'm asking because a lot of people—
[01:11:43] Matthew McConaughey: It was just time to turn the page.
[01:11:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:11:46] Matthew McConaughey: I gave myself the freedom and the leisure to say, "Hey, go ahead. See what no resistance feels like. See what no curfew anytime you want it feels like. See what if you want another one to have another one feels like." Because I'm usually the type who judges myself and can be hard on myself. And I was at a time where I was, I thought maybe being too hard on myself, not present enough, thinking too much, projecting too much or maybe who I wanted to be, where I was like paralyzing myself personally. It was like, "Man, I was kind of becoming puritanical about some things that I felt like where I went too far on," and became too puritanical where I didn't have a good sense of humor. And I was like, "Let's just chain ourselves here for a second. I don't become that, that guy."
[01:12:36] And so when I unchained myself, I gave myself a license. Like I said, "Let's get them. Let's live downtown. Let's get this, let's get a motorcycle. Let's sit here and go, 'Hey, let's be hedonistically for a while." And I always knew it wasn't going to be a day. I knew it was a stop, but I gave myself. Give yourself leisure for like, not for doing this longer than a week and going, "Okay, that's enough." No, I'd run into it. It was a really fun time. I was a long staying transient. It was a transient time and one that I quite enjoy, but I knew going in it wasn't going to be like my existence, you know, going forward. But it was a wonderful, wonderful 18 months and had loads of fun, a lot of dancing and met a lot of really cool, interesting people and some really great artists as well.
[01:13:24] Jordan Harbinger: I would imagine that there's like before Chateau Marmont, and after and during — you had to get out of your system. Right? It's like a young — how old were you back then at that point?
[01:13:34] Matthew McConaughey: Ahh, I don't know what it was. I was like 20s.
[01:13:36] Jordan Harbinger: It's a good time do that, right? Because then you meet your wife and you go, I've done the stuff that I — like, even if you're thinking like, "Oh man, you know, I got to shake it up a little." You just think back to then and you go, "I've had that for like my lifetime. I'm good."
[01:13:48] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. I mean, it wasn't as extreme of an exit from responsibility as maybe touring the book makes it sound like, but I wrote that section differently too. I wrote that in a sling and it from the hip rock and roll way of it. The verbiage of it through that section, the riddles, the rhymes, the way it was written, I wrote them that way on purpose. When I met Camila it wasn't like, "Oh,now that's part of my life is done. It was just very natural to me to be like, "Whoa, this is now someone that I want to spend the whole rest of my life with." This is someone who I could make children with. Someone who has a moral bottom line that I'm like, "Boy, I'd love that. This kind of mother I'd want my children to have. This is someone who understands me in a way that this could be my best friend. So I didn't really inhabit, I really felt sort of a choke back of like, "Aah. I wish I could," but yeah, I mean, those were a funny team, they were kind of fun now.
[01:14:50] Jordan Harbinger: I was an exchange student. So I particularly resonated with the story about the Dooley's, which is in the book. There's so many great stories in the book. The Dooley's story had me cracking up because I think a lot of us spend a lot of time on our foreign exchanges, reading Lord Byron, if you know what I'm saying.
[01:15:07] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah. Right. I mean, whoo, I just found a baseline, you know what I mean? Just to get a little clarity just to sit there and go, "Whoo, clean things up a little bit. Press reset, yeah."
[01:15:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. Those people though, like looking back now as an older, you know, not being 18 or whatever you were at the time, looking back now, you realize these were crazy people. There was something not right in the household. What do you think when you look back? Because you did take lessons from it. You're not thinking like, "Aah, man, I wasted my year in Australia." You actually took quite a bit of positivity from it, which I think is not easy to do when you have experiences like that.
[01:15:43] Matthew McConaughey: So what do I think of then looking back?
[01:15:46] Jordan Harbinger: Of your experience looking back, I mean, it's kind of clear what, what was going on there, but like what do you think of that experience looking back?
[01:15:51] Matthew McConaughey: It's one of my favorite stories I've ever told. And I'm the subject in the middle of it. And I'm the one that got my face throughout it. The joke is on me. So, I mean, I do believe I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you with the life I have if I wouldn't have had that year over there, with that family where I was forced even more so but in a different way than when you, as we talked about earlier, when you lose your father, I was forced to rely on self. And what's so great and funny about stories is 18 to 19 years old, I'm 18 to 19. That's a rite of passage time for any young man, but then you throw that young man off in place that I was in the middle of some questionably insanity and no one or no thing to bounce reality off. Oh my gosh. It was hilarious.
[01:16:45] And then the things I did to sort of maintain my sanity to whatever extent I could and didn't. I looked back at him and I was just laughing my ass off. I mean, like I said, what I was doing with Lord Byron, there was six mile runs a day. There was celibacy, there was vegetarianism without doing it right. There was, I'm going to be a monk. These sorts of things, these disciplines that I needed to create in my young mind to have some sense of identity, some sense of reality, something to check off and go, "I did that today. I know I did that today. I ran six miles." Whatever that was, it was very awkward, but I'm kind of happy. Pretty, pretty honored with how I went about it because I did keep trying to take the high road. I did have a hunch the entire time that there was a lesson I was supposed to learn this and that I was never, ever going to pull the parachute. I was never, ever going to say, "I'm out of here."
[01:17:40] Because you read the story and you go, "What are you talking about, dude? Get the hell out." I was never going to do that. I took a one-way ticket into the adventure and I'm staying the year, man. I'm staying the whole year by hook or by crook. And of course, I didn't think it would be by crook. I thought it was gonna be like, "Woohoo. This is Australia! Yo, McPherson, here we go." No, none of that. That's not the Australia I went to. So I needed to be forced to put in the middle of complete confusion, complete confusion. And just see, one, how long could I do it? There's value in just the endurance. There was value in having again, no one to bounce it down. Not a friend, not a phone, not a job, not a girlfriend. Nothing, no parents to bounce. "Hey, is this all right? Is this how it's supposed to be?" I didn't have any as I'm in the middle of it, and I never felt in any great danger. I was psychologically in a very tricky place. That's for damn sure.
[01:18:40] Jordan Harbinger: I want people to go and check out that story. I know you told it on a couple of podcasts, it's in the book and it is — as a fellow exchange student, it is hilarious because we all kind of have our version of the Dooley's, whether it was our host parents or just something that happened during our exchange year where we're like, "No one's going to believe this."
[01:18:54] Matthew McConaughey: No.
[01:18:54] Jordan Harbinger: And it's going to change my life. And I'm not sure how, but I'm going to be telling this story in 20 years and people are going to be like, "Sure that happened," you know, come on.
[01:19:03] Matthew McConaughey: It is that sometimes, do you ever feel like in the middle of a situation, you're like, "This at least is going to be a great story?" I know there's certain things like in Africa with wrestling, when I got challenged. One year I'm in and this year is, "Are you kidding me? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no." And the other is like, "Dude, if you don't,, you're going to regret knowing what happened." And that era went very quick and all of a sudden I accepted the challenge, but also think again, I popped out in that objective side of life, and this is bound to be a great story one day.
[01:19:37] Jordan Harbinger: The story think has gotten me in trouble before—
[01:19:39] Matthew McConaughey: Yeah.
[01:19:39] Jordan Harbinger: —but usually it's worth it. I think there is a rite of passage, like you said, from an especially, or I shouldn't say, especially, I can only speak for men because I've only been a man and a boy in my life. But there's something about us that we need that, right? Like we just — you have to go through and you just happen to have yours on the other side of the world, some of yours.
[01:20:02] Matthew McConaughey: Rites of passage are big for males. If you're not having them, sometimes you've got to create resistance for yourself. If you don't have the world doing it to you or someone that can — parent or something that can do that for you, father or mother, and then sometimes we're not looking for them, and we're in a position where we're locked into one. And you go, "Okay, I've got something I've got to get through here. I don't know what is on the other side." Sometimes you get through great rites of passage just by sheer endurance. We are possibly going through a rite of passage as people in the world right now.
[01:20:30] Jordan Harbinger: I think so.
[01:20:31] Matthew McConaughey: Enduring this last 10 months. This could be very healthy for us in the long run.
[01:20:38] Jordan Harbinger: You know, I think you're right. I think you're right. I think viewing things that are challenging as a test is also a healthy way to look at it because otherwise it can break you. Nobody wants to fail a test.
[01:20:47] Matthew McConaughey: Right.
[01:20:48] Jordan Harbinger: Right?
[01:20:48] Matthew McConaughey: There's an inherent dare in them. And you got to watch it too, when you choose because there's good fear and there's bad fear. You don't want to have that — not fearful something you should be fearful of.
[01:20:59] Jordan Harbinger: Like a mountain lion.
[01:21:00] Matthew McConaughey: I had zero fear in me that day. I covered about 10 feet. All right. In about 90 minutes, that's how slow I move. I had zero fear that day and at that time—
[01:21:12] Jordan Harbinger: It's incredible.
[01:21:13] Matthew McConaughey: —and it worked out.
[01:21:14] Jordan Harbinger: It's incredible. I could have lost the moneymaker man, for sure, if not more. Thank you so much, this is as good a place to leave it I think, as any other. This has been a super enjoyable conversation and I know you've done like a hundred of these, so I appreciate you pretending like you haven't. That's always nice.
[01:21:30] Matthew McConaughey: Good conversation. First one on day that I've ever had.
[01:21:34] Jordan Harbinger: We've got a trailer for our interview with Robert Greene, one of the most acclaimed authors of our time. Robert's insight into human nature is second to none. And there's a reason that his books are banned in prisons yet widely read by both scholars and leaders alike. Check out episode 117 of the The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:21:53] If we just sit in our inner tube with our hands behind her head and crack open a six-pack of beer, the river of dark nature takes us towards that waterfall of the shadow.
[01:22:01] Robert Greene: Yeah. So when we're children, if we weren't educated, if we didn't have teachers or parents telling us to study, we'd be these monsters. We're all flawed. I believe we humans naturally feel and it's the chimpanzee in us. It's been shown that primates are very attuned to other animals in their clan. And they're constantly comparing themselves. Your dislike of that fellow artist or that other podcaster 99 percent sure that it comes from a place of envy.
[01:22:34] Jordan Harbinger: For sure.
[01:22:35] Robert Greene: You are not a rational being. Rationality is something you earn. It's a struggle. It takes effort. It takes awareness. You have to go through steps. You have to see your biases. When you think you're being rational, you're not being rational at all. You go around, everything is personal. "Oh, why did he say? Why is my mom telling me this?" And I'm telling you it's not personal. That's the liberating fact. People are wrapped up in their own emotions, their own traumas. So you need to be aware that people have their own inner reality. People are not nearly as happy and successful that you think they are. Acknowledging that you have a dark side, that you have a shadow. That you're not such a great person, as you think, you can actually be a very liberating feeling. And there are ways to take that shadow and that darkness and kind of turn it into something else.
[01:23:26] Jordan Harbinger: If you want to learn more about how to read others and even yourself, be sure to check out episode 117 of The Jordan Harbinger Show
[01:23:34] Now, I got to admit when he said, "Ces-la-vi-a," it took me a minute to figure out that he meant c'est la vie. And I just didn't throw it in there because I don't even know how long it took me, but it was not relevant by the time I thought of it. So if you were wondering what the heck he meant when he said, "Ces-la-vi-a." He meant c'est la vie. I'm pretty sure if anyone else has any insight there, go ahead and correct me if I'm wrong.
[01:23:57] I also asked him a little bit about how he gets into character on set, and he says that he has these launch pad lines, right? Something like, "All right. All right. All right." That stuff comes naturally, but it also helps him get into character. He also asks the writers and the directors, what the movie poster will look like for the movie that he's doing. So he will see if it's a close-up of the main character of him, and he knows it's more focused on him and the character. And if it's a wide open landscape, it's more focused on the story. And then of course, he does the whole thing and then they changed the movie poster. But I thought that was an interesting strategy. He's getting the picture, at least in his mind, upfront of the vision that the director and the whole team has.
[01:24:38] He's also a pretty introspective guy. At least that's what it seems like from his book. I wonder if he'd always been like that. Now, he takes a lot of stock in the day to day and what makes him happy and gives him ROI in his life. He's been keeping a diary for 36 years and I asked him if he only went there during dark times. Or if he actually writes in it when he's flying high as well. And he said that he does, he said, "Actually, most of us dissect failures, but not many of us dissect where and who we are when we're actually feeling the most happy and the most satisfied, and journaling allows us this." If you only write it when you're miserable, it's just like writing letters home when you're miserable, your family thinks your exchange year or whatever is horrible. But really you have to write when you feel good and when you feel bad. That's what gives you that 20/20 hindsight, the actual clarity that you're looking for.
[01:25:25] He's also big on getting a vision of where you want to go. He said you have to know where you're going first before you can aim in the right direction. Now, deep wisdom there, right? Because if you don't know where you're going, having a bunch of greenlights in front of you — the book is called Greenlights. And it's kind of about this. You're having a bunch of greenlights in front of you could actually be a big problem. You can have your foot on the gas going in the wrong direction. All you're doing is racing towards nothing or misery even faster.
[01:25:47] I'm channeling my inner Ryan Holiday here. There's probably some quote from the Stoics about sailing and wind on ships or whatever that would apply here. In fact, I think it's something like if you don't know which port you're headed towards, no wind is favorable. And if I just made that up, well, maybe I'm a philosopher now. Who knows?
[01:26:02] Last, but not least Matthew mentioned that he's been really good recently at simplifying his life. Something I'm going through these days at well, deciding what you want to do. And the story he told about this — this is in the book — he said the phone rang in his office and it was somebody from his production company. And he went to answer it and he paused and he thought, "I just don't want to deal with this." And that same moment, that same day, he wanted to shut down his record label, shut down his production company. And he said, "Look, I got to focus on this because I'm making B's and five things and I want to make A's." And I'm with you there, man. You know, I want to make an A as a family man, as a father, I want to make an A in this podcast and interviewing. I don't need to be a live events coordinator and a product maker and a life coach and a dad and a podcaster. I see people doing that and I see a lot of sort of vanilla content that's clearly put together by an outsourced team. That's not really that great. Nothing world-changing there, you know, a lot of vanilla, a lot to make me famous on social. And,I don't want any part of that. The vanities are tempting, but as I get older, I realize it's just not for me.
[01:27:03] So big, thank you to Matthew McConaughey. The book title is GreenLights. Links to that will be in the show notes. Please do use our website links. If you buy books or anything from any of our guests, it helps support the show. Worksheets for this episode in the show notes. Transcripts in the show notes. The one time we don't have a video going up on the YouTube channel is this time because the video crash — it happens once every two years, the video crashes. And my backup also crashes. And I just got a new — oh, whatever the reason doesn't matter, but there's no video going up on YouTube. So you're just going to have to imagine me having a grand old time with Matthew McConaughey because that's what happened. So just get that vision clear in your head and that's exactly what it was. I'm at @Jordan Harbinger on both Twitter and Instagram or hit me on LinkedIn if you want to connect with me.
[01:27:45] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using the same systems and tiny habits that I use every single day. It's over on our Six-Minute Networking course, the course is free. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests on the show, they actually subscribed to the course and the newsletter. Come join us, you'll be an amazing company where you belong, baby.
[01:28:06] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My amazing team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's into Hollywood, acting, or just a big Matthew McConaughey fan, throw this episode their way. Hopefully, you find something great in every episode. Please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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