Matthew McConaughey Once Revealed the Life-changing Lessons He Learned from Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard

Matthew McConaughey has worked with some legendary directors during his career and learned a lot along the way. In a 2017 interview with David Feherty, McConaughey dished on the lessons he took away from working with Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, and Ron Howard.

Matthew McConaughey attends Columbia Pictures And The Cinema Society 2018
Matthew McConaughey | Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Matthew McConaughey learned some great lessons from the best

McConaughey has had the pleasure of having roles in movies directed by the likes of Spielberg, Zemeckis, and Howard and he’s gained a great deal from the time spent on set with them.

“Those are guys that grew up storytellers wanting to make as movie makers, they were doing that as young kids,” McConaughey said on the show Feherty. I didn’t — I saw two movies before I was 17 so I don’t come from a library of ‘Here’s all the actors I know, here’s all the movies I know.’”

“So, they look at every step in life, everything is about ‘How do we tell the story? How do I tell my story?,’” he continued.

McConaughey went on to share how each director taught him something different. “I learned different styles of getting ready, how to prepare from Spielberg and how his energy and enthusiasm on the set to create vitality and real humanity at the moment,” he explained.

“Zemeckis loved his toys, his cranes and his movements and things … so it was a whole other discipline I learned working with him,” the actor explained.

With Howard, McConaughey said he had to wrap his head around the humor of the movie, telling the director of EDtv, “I’m not sure some of this humor fits my meter — can I play with the script and improvise?”

Howard told him, “You have to get me from A to B in the scene. I care what you say, but I don’t really care what you say. You’ve got to get me from A to B … do it your way.”

With that freedom, McConaughey said he could discover what the scene required. He explained, “Happened all the time and it still happens today and now I just have learned enough to have the confidence to go way off script, just forget the script and actually experiment in a scene” to discover “now I understand the beats of the scene as written.”

“Sometimes you’ve got to leave what you know to find out what you know,” he added.

RELATED: Why Matthew McConaughey Turned Down $14.5 Million to Make Another Rom-Com Movie

Ron Howard explained Matthew McConaughey’s charm

Ron Howard was quickly won over by McConaughey’s charisma. The director told New York Daily News in a 1999 interview, “Matthew has so much charm that we rewrote the script for him.”

“It was originally written for a guy from New Jersey, but I liked Matthew’s down-home past,” Howard explained.  

EDtv producer Brian Grazer shared that McConaughey’s choice to slurp up a soda he spilled on a table at Grazer’s house when he was meeting about the film won him the role. “The [soda] thing was the catalyst that made me want to hire him,” Grazer shared. “He’s a funny, blue-collar Texas guy who does kooky stuff. We wanted a good guy with a good spirit who’s funny all the way.”

McConaughey was just keeping it real. “Something I’ve learned about this business is that the more you can be yourself, the better,” he said at the time. “There’s only one of you, so you’re a novelty.”

That philosophy has served him well.