The Origin Story of “Alright, Alright, Alright”

A random night in a bar launched my acting career

Matthew McConaughey

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Me as Wooderson in “Dazed and Confused”. Universal Home Video.

Back in my film school days, I’d take my girlfriend to the Hyatt hotel bar in Austin for free drinks while my classmate Sam was bartending. On one of those nights, my life changed forever.

“There’s a guy at the end of the bar who’s in town producing a movie,” Sam said, handing me my vodka tonics. “He’s been comin’ in here nightly. Lemme introduce you to him.”

This is when I met the one and only Don Phillips.

He drank vodka and tonics as well, many of them. A few hours later, as Don stood atop a chair in the midst of delivering one of his legendarily loud charades of a story, the management, to no avail, tried to calm him down. When it was obvious Don wanted nothing to do with toning anything down, they tried to kick him out of the bar.

Matching him drink for drink, I had no interest in Don calming down either, so we were unpeacefully escorted out of the Hyatt. Now past two in the morning, as he rode with me in a cab to drop me off at my apartment, I pulled out a joint and we smoked it.

“You ever done any acting, Matthew?” he asked.

I told him I’d been in a Miller Lite commercial for about a second and a half and had done a music video for Trisha Yearwood.

“Well, there’s a small part in this movie I’m casting you might be right for. Come to this address tomorrow morning at 9:30 and pick up the script, I’ll have the three scenes marked.”

The next morning at 9:30, I arrived at the location Don had given me and there was a script with my name on it, and a handwritten note from Don that read, “Here’s the script, the character’s name is ‘Wooderson,’ I’ll get you in for an audition in two weeks.” The script was for Dazed and Confused.

Over the years I’ve come to call the kind of line in a script that can send me flying a “launchpad” line. The line in this script that sent me into flight was:

“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

Wooderson was 22 years old but still hanging out around the high school. That line opened up an entire world…

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Matthew McConaughey

Academy Award winning actor, NY Times best selling author, founder of the just keep livin Foundation