Matthew McConaughey Based His Iconic ‘Dazed and Confused’ Character On His Brother Pat

Matthew McConaughey has been open about his inspirations for characters. He talks about “launchpad lines” that give him the key to his character. For Dazed and Confused the launchpad line was “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” He’s also said Jim Morrison influenced his trademark “Alright, alright, alright.” His older brother, Pat, inspired him, too.

Matthew McConaughey on the phone
Matthew McConaughey | Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald

McConaughey appeared on the Oct. 21, 2020 episode of the Sibling Revelry podcast with hosts Kate and Oliver Hudson. He shared how his older brother influenced his Dazed and Confused character, Wooderson. 

‘Dazed and Confused’s Wooderson was born when Matthew McConaughey was 10

McConaughey would make his first movie, Dazed and Confused, while a student at University of Texas at Austin. Writer/director Richard Linklater was an Austin native and filmed locally. However, his inspiration for Wooderson came when he was even younger.

Matthew McConaughey signing autographs
Matthew McConaughey | GP Images/Getty Images

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“Y’all know this as actors,” McConaughey told the Hudsons. “Sometimes you study details of a character and other times it’s just an impression. That character was based off a specific day when I was about 10 years old. Mom and I were going to pick up my brother Pat after school. His car had broken down so we were supposed to pick him up in the station wagon and he wasn’t where we were supposed to meet him.”

Pat McConaughey created Wooderson’s posture

Matthew saw Pat before his mother did. The image of Pat relaxing became Wooderson a decade later. 

Matthew McConaughey wearing red flannel
Matthew McConaughey | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

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“So as we’re slowly driving through campus, I’m in the backseat looking out the back window,” he said. “I see this image of a guy in shadow, leaning against the wall in the smoking section with one boot heel kicked up on the wall, the light shining through, the bent knee, leaning back, kind of a lazy longhand. I was like whoa. He was like nine feet tall, the coolest thing in the world and it was my brother Pat.”

What did Matthew McConnaughey say in ‘Dazed and Confused’?

In addition to his two catch phrases from the movie, Dazed and Confused has another famous exchange. Wooderson asks someone if they have a joint, but they say no. He replies, “It’d be a lot cooler if you did.” At 10, he was already covering for Pat.

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“I remember going, ‘There’s Pat!’ and I stopped because I was like oh, if I say his name, Mom turns around, he’s going to get his butt whooped for smoking,” he said. “So I didn’t say anything. We just kept driving but that image of who I thought my brother was through my 10-year-old eyes when he was that much of an icon was who I based Wooderson on.”

Source: Sibling Revelry podcast

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