There are some ANZ bank customers on the Central Coast of NSW who probably don’t realise that a young Matthew McConaughey was handing them their money back in 1988.
Back then, McConaughey was on a Rotary student exchange. Having already graduated high school in Texas, he struggled with returning to a classroom in Australia.
“I left America with a car, a job and some cash in my pocket, a girlfriend and some awful freedom,” he told GQ. “Then suddenly I got there and there were school uniforms and I was writing creative English papers.”
When McConaughey started skipping classes, the principal suggested he do work experience instead. That’s where the ANZ bank came into it – along with 10 other jobs, including carpentry and helping out golf pros.
Looking back, McConaughey says that year was one of the most important years of his life.
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“I was forced to spend time on my own. I did more reading and writing than I had done in the 18 years prior. I was forced to check in with myself and that was a big rite of passage in manhood for me.”
McConaughey had grown up in a stable family unit, or so he thought. His parents – schoolteacher mum Kay and football player-turned-businessman dad Jim – actually divorced twice, but didn’t tell their kids.
“We didn’t know they ever got divorced!” McConaughey told Elle. “We thought Mum was on extended vacation. I don’t think I knew until after Dad died that those two vacations were divorces.”
In fact, when McConaughey’s dad died from a heart attack in 1992, he was with McConaughey’s mum. According to his mum, they were having sex at the time.
“On Monday mornings, he and I often said goodbye by making love,” Kay McConaughey wrote in her book I Amaze Myself!. “But one day, all of a sudden, it just happened. I knew that something was wrong, because I didn’t hear anything from him. Just nothing. But it was just the best way to go!”
She asked for her husband’s body to be taken from the house naked.
“I was just so proud to show off my big old Jim McConaughey – and his gift,” she added.
That same year, Matthew McConaughey went along to a casting session that would change his life. It was for the role of Wooderson in the movie Dazed And Confused. He ironed his shirt and shaved beforehand, which nearly cost him the part. But then he showed director Rick Linklater that he could play a stoner.
“He told me I got the job but said, ‘Do not shave. Let your hair go all scraggly,’” McConaughey told the Chicago Tribune. “I was like, ‘What a great job this is!’”