A LOVE STORY LIKE NO OTHER
THE WEEK|March 14, 2021
Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey bares it all in his debut book—from the personal to the profound
MANDIRA NAYAR

It is Cinderella hour on a weeknight, and Matthew McConaughey is on a Zoom call, fully shirted. There have been very few actors who have been shirtless on screen as many times as McConaughey.

Post pandemic, the world has changed, and travel has reduced. Stars are the ones in the sky, and now midnight phone calls from a Hollywood actor can happen in the comfort of a home a continent away—where Texas is shivering and Delhi is beginning to feel the heat of summer.

McConaughey has a new book out—Greenlights—his first. A memoir, it is like no other celebrity reminiscing. He writes openly, often with raw honesty about growing up. His first introduction to his parents is the messiness of their lives—twice divorced and thrice married to the same person.

He recounts an incident of his father stalking his mother for not getting a hot meal. “It was on. My brothers knew the deal, I knew the deal,” he writes. “Mom knew the deal as she ran to the wall-mounted telephone on the other side of the kitchen to call 911.... As he closed in, Mom grabbed the handheld end of the phone off the wall mount and raked it across his brow. Dad’s nose was broken, blood was everywhere.... They circled each other in the middle of the kitchen, Mom waving the twelve-inch blade, Dad with his bloody broken nose and snarling incisors....” His father threw ketchup on his mother and finally as they stared at each other, they moved “towards each other and met in an animal embrace. They dropped to their knees, then to the bloody, ketchup-covered linoleum kitchen floor… and made love. And a red light turned green”.

There are deliberately no filters, and his good, old-fashioned Southern drawl leaps off the page even while you read it. There is no pretence, the book opens with confession, such as him being molested at 18 by a man while being unconscious in a car, bribing for sex and about resisting arrest as he played bongo drums naked in his house.

“It is all a love story, even the ugly stuff,” says McConaughey. “It is all a part of the love story. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t, ‘I have to go deep to share that.’ My family is transparent about those parts of our lives. We all still retell those stories at dinner. My family doesn’t want to brush any of those stories under the covers. They are not trying to hide those. I have never gone out and shared them with the world, but I mean, when I did, my family is fine with it. They understand it is part of the beauty, of how we see life, how I see life. It wouldn’t have been as much fun or true to not share those. I see it as a love story.”

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