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Matthew McConaughey is an elite actor and one of the most recognizable in Hollywood today. For a man as highly regarded in the movie business as McConaughey, one would assume he spent his entire life immersed in films. However, this is not the case.

Believe it or not, McConaughey’s love for cinema didn’t develop until he reached college. In fact, he only went to the movies twice before reaching the age of 17. 

Matthew McConaughey only saw 3 movies in theaters as a kid 

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey | Gary Miller/Getty Images

Early on in McConaughey’s life, he didn’t have much of an interest in movies. He recalled being able to count on one hand the number of times he’d been to a theater during an interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation

“I only saw two movies before I was 17,” McConaughey said. “King Kong and Orca. And I cried at the end of King Kong. I really thought Jessica Lang and King Kong could’ve worked it out, I really did. I’ve always rooted for the underdog that way, in those odd love stories.”

“And then Orca just pissed me off, because the poster was this huge killer whale, and there were these little stick figures of men with harpoons and stuff in him. And I went to the movie and the orca was about [stands up and takes a few steps back] from me to you. … So that didn’t like, turn me off from films, but I just didn’t…. We had one theater in our town, it was just not a …”

Matthew McConaughey snuck into an erotic film at the movie theater 

Although McConaughey could only recall seeing two movies in the theater initially, he quickly redacted his statement. 

“I take that back, there was three pictures,” McConaughey said. “I didn’t get to watch this one though, I got dragged out of this one by my mother eight minutes into it. Caligula. I snuck off to Caligula and was so excited about it.”

Even though McConaughey had high hopes for seeing some sexy scenes, his mother stepped in just in the nick of time. 

“All of a sudden there was this yank on my arm, and it was my mom …” McConaughey said. “I saw enough to make it worth risking going …”

Matthew McConaughey’s love for film developed in college 


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Despite having not seen many movies as a kid, McConaughey’s passion for film developed as he got older. In college, he began to study films more seriously, and his interest grew.

“Later on in college, I started to watch films and appreciate them,” McConaughey said.

McConaughey initially went to college with hopes of becoming a lawyer but began to have second thoughts. He didn’t like the idea of staying in school until age 28 or having to wait until his 30s to start making an impact in the world. 

McConaughey’s career interest shifted after a friend studying film at NYU encouraged him to explore filmmaking and he discovered a book, The Greatest Salesman in the World.