It's quite simple, really: Matthew McConaughey is a charmer---beard or no beard. From his signature drawl to his facial expressions that the world has come to know and love, there appears to be nothing false or hidden about him. McConaughey is honest, open, and firm in his beliefs. Perhaps his most attractive feature is that he is a true family man, who openly gushes about his kids (Livingston, 2, Vida, 5, and Levi,6) and his wife (model Camila Alves). Among his passions is a charity he started with Alves, Just Keep Livin Foundation, dedicated to empowering high school students by providing them with the tools to lead active lives. The actor sat down with us on a rainy afternoon in a city he calls home--Austin, Texas--to chat candidly about his foundation, his hopes for his children, what he's most grateful for, and how he really feels about that beard of his. Watch the video above, and read the extended interview below:
How does the Just Keep Livin Foundation directly impact kids and their education?
We’ve got an after-school voluntary curriculum that we put in inner city high schools. We’re in five states right now. It’s two hours after school where kids come to try and set exercise goals, whether it’s trying out for the soccer team, run a half marathon, or fit into the prom dress, whatever that may be. There’s a nutrition aspect as well. We learn how to eat well on a budget. Instead of six burgers here’s what you can buy on the same budget at the supermarket and you get to go home and cook it with your family. We have a gratitude circle---a lot of folks believe in gratitude and being thankful for what you have.
Speaking of that gratitude circle, what are you most grateful for?
I’ve been in the gratitude circle in one of our after-school classes pretty soon after I had each one of our children, so that was an amazing time. Got a new job, got two, got three, and then one weekday we were in there and my wife had had a really nice weekend. And I wouldn’t go into details but I was just telling the guys, you know when you have a really good date weekend and they all understood [laughs]. That’s a long list.
What lessons do you hope your children learn in school?
I hope they’ll get a general education in humanities. I know liberal arts school was important for me. It’s sort of the furniture that goes on in the world and then you get to choose what you want to specifically go into. I needed liberal arts in my first two years of college 'cause I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I don’t think most kids know what they want to do, and you shouldn’t. Don’t feel the pressure to know what you want to do even going into college.
Look, there’s a lot of tests I passed in school. And I remember I had this joke with a friend, "Hey man, how’d the Liberty Bell crack?" and he goes, "I don’t know but I passed that test."
What's your go-to lunch that you pack for your children to take to school?
Luckily, my beautiful wife Camila packs the lunches for them and for me, but as a family we like to eat healthy and we all enjoy a nice steak [for dinner].
What do you say to your kids when they don't want to get out of bed in the morning?
If the sun is shining you need to be outside, just like my mother told us as kids.
How do you and your kids have fun?
I mean, a lot of outside play if the weather is good. My son [Levi] is really into piano right now. My daughter is really into drawing and making things. Anybody who’s got kids knows you can go to Toys 'R' Us and spend $100, but sometimes that cardboard box or that pile of dirt outside is the best gift, and it’ll last for months, and they go back to it and back to it.
What’s your secret to being a good husband and a good father?
Best thing you could probably do as a father is make sure they see how you love their mother. The secret to being a husband? Look, I’ll say this: Neither one of us have really tried to change the other one. We got into our relationship because we really admired and were turned on by who the other person was before we met them, before we got together. And we do not try to change each other. If anything, she pushes me to be more of myself and I hope I do the same for her.
Your Lincoln commercials have gotten so much attention; what can we expect to see in the next batch?
I am not trying to be a car salesman---that’s why I like the Lincoln ads. They’re sort of a knife through hot butter in the middle of all the noise. I’ve been happy with them and we are working on the next ones now. They’ll be slightly different.
What's the funniest behind the scenes moment from filming?
We shoot on location for all of the ads. While filming the “Bull” spot in Marfa, Texas, I didn’t realize my co-star was going to be a live animal. We got along though and I had the [Lincoln] MKC between us!
Let’s talk about that beard. Do you like it? Have you grown attached to it?
I like it 'cause it’s the role I’m playing now, The Free State of Jones. It is what it is [laughs].
Any plans to shave it off?
When I have my next role, if it doesn’t need a beard....