Matthew McConaughey is the Drew Brees of acting. In 2014, he has already won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, received substantial critical acclaim for his role in the HBO series True Detective, was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and has completely transformed the course of his career when most would be winding down.
Like Brees, McConaughey has always been an athlete at heart. He played baseball and football until high school. When he got to high school, he told SI.com in a recent interview, he started to play tennis. “But then I broke my foot and picked up the golf clubs.” McConaughey says he stuck with golf until he graduated.
Also similar to New Orleans' star quarterback, McConaughey is reaching the height of his career when most thought he’d be spending his days on a private beach or hiking in the Alps. Brees was famously down and out after his stint with the San Deigo Chargers, then went on to revive his career with the Saints, carrying the team to a Super Bowl win and picking up the MVP award along the way.
McConaughey has revived his career by taking a new direction in the roles that he chooses. His star turns in such movies as Mud and Dallas Buyers Club and in the edgy True Detective, and even his short role in The Wolf of Wall Street have shown another, grittier side of McConaughey. Like Brees, he’s looking to close out his career with a bang.
PHOTOS: Matthew McConaughey and Sports
As an active sports fan, McConaughey makes no secret of where his sports allegiances lie. A Texas native, he has been a regular at Longhorn games. In the NBA arena, McConaughey roots for another Texas-based franchise, the Houston Rockets. When he’s watching the NFL, though, he’s cheering for the Washington Redskins.
Throughout his acting career, McConaughey has been a regular on the sports scene, attending events like the Super Bowl, the 2005 Rose Bowl and countless Knicks and Lakers games. He has also been seen working out with his close friend, and cycling legend, Lance Armstrong. One of his earlier performances was even a sports flick, when he portrayed Ben Williams in the 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield.
Before that, of course, was 1993's Dazed and Confused, a film that has a lot of meaning for McConaughey. It was his first major role and and a true breakout performance. But also, in 1992, McConaughey’s father passed away. In a recent interview with SI.com, McConaughey explained that the experience spawned a phrase he’d live by the rest of his life.
“Like everybody, I was trying to deal with how do you keep someone alive in your heart, in your spirit, even if they are physically gone,” says McConaughey. “That’s where "Just keep livin'" came from. It was me dealing with my dad physically not being here anymore but understanding that spiritually he never had to die for me because for me, he could just keep livin'.”
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That phrase, just keep livin, is something that McConaughey ended up saying as a character in the film he was working on at the time, Dazed and Confused, and he says it’s something that has since become a compass for him in his life.
Since becoming a successful actor, McConaughey has also started a foundation named after his favorite phrase and a sports performance apparel company, JKL Clothing. Part of why McConaughey wanted to start his own clothing line was to give back through his foundation. A portion of every JKL sale goes to fund his organization.
The clothing line is also touted as being "all-journey" apparel, and information about the brand on the company's website tells the consumer that "JKL isn’t just about the clothes on your back. It’s about what’s in your head, what’s in your heart, and the things that get you out of bed every day. The path is yours. We’re just happy to be along for the ride." A line of thinking that is very much in keeping with McConaughey's personality. His apparel also features the AdvantEdge materials that are lightweight and breathable, stretchable and multifunctional, and easy to pack in a bag while you're on the go.
The Just Keep Livin Foundation was designed to help children learn the basics of nutrition, fitness and wellness. McConaughey wanted to “provide places where kids can go after school and be part of a fun, supportive, positive unit.” He describes the foundation as “a place where young men and women make physical and spiritual goals … and reach them. It's inspiring, because we see it working. We see how it helps. It’s the team for the kids who usually didn’t ‘make the team.’”
McConaughey’s clothing company and his foundation clearly mimic the movie star's everyday persona. He has always preached the importance of living a fulfilling life, being healthy and making the right choices. Even in his work, McConaughey has always brought energy to the screen.
In Time Magazine’s recent piece on the actor, Richard Linklater wrote, “Look at The Wolf of Wall Street—that chest-thumping thing Leo DiCaprio’s character runs with, that’s a little thing Matthew actually does. There are stars that suck up all the energy in the room—Matthew maximizes the energy and shares it.”