This Hollywood origin story is a Cool Golf Thing

Alright, alright, alright.
Matthew McConaughey's (center, red shirt) love of golf helped land him his first significant big-screen role. The rest is Hollywood history.

Interior: local watering hole in Austin, Texas, early 1990s. A Hollywood casting director is minding his business, having a drink at the corner of the bar.

Up swaggers a young fella who chats him up. He's in film school at the University of Texas. Although what he really wants to do is direct, he's heard a movie is being shot in town. The casting director, who got Sean Penn into Fast Times at Ridgemont High, might be his ticket into show business.

But there's a problem: the casting director doesn't want to be bothered. He's been approached like this more times than he can count by wannabe stars all over the country. The kid persists.

Flash forward 30 years. The kid is now one of the most charismatic actors alive. His resume ranges from male-stripper romp Magic Mike to serious sci-fi flicks like Interstellar. He's got a Best Actor Oscar. What happened? How did the kid break through?

As Matthew McConaughey told Howard Stern in a 2017 interview, it was a shared love of a game that endeared him to casting director Don Phillips.

“All of a sudden, we both knew we played golf and we had a similar course we had played,” McConaughey told Stern. “Cut to three hours later, we get kicked out for getting a little rambunctious.”

The rest is Hollywood history. The film: Dazed And Confused. Phillips invited McConaughey to read for the part of laid-back lothario David Wooderson, whose immortal opening line, “Alright, alright, alright” - the first three words McConaughey ever uttered on camera - remain inextricably tied to their speaker 30 years and dozens of films later.

Another Texan, the legendary teacher Harvey Penick, said, "If you play golf, you are my friend." Matthew McConaughey knows just how true that adage is.

March 22, 2019
Browse our not-too-long essays about cool things in golf.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
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