Matthew McConaughey Reveals How Floating the Amazon River for 22 Days Helped Him Accept Celebrity Status

Countless celebrities have told stories about the trappings of Hollywood and its glamorous lifestyle. For actors such as Matthew McConaughey, it can be difficult to tell what’s real and what isn’t, especially when the lifestyle is new. 

The A-list actor recently shared his personal experience with becoming an overnight Hollywood star, and how he coped. For him, it meant floating the Amazon River for nearly a month in order to accept his newfound celebrity status.  

Matthew McConaughey struggled to adapt to fame

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey | Noam Galai/Getty Images for HISTORY

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McConuaghey didn’t adapt to life in the public eye easily. He became famous at such a young age, he had little ability to discern who was being real with him or not. He explains on a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Podcast how he knew he needed time away from Los Angeles to make sense of his new life. 

“I’m 23 at that time,” McConaughey says. “I’m being told, ‘I love you, I love you,’ but in my mind, I’m going, ‘Man, we don’t throw that word around, I’ve said that to four people in my life. So I wanted to know what the heck was real, what really mattered. And I was looking for a place to go. I need to get out … I needed to go break a long sweat. I needed to go out and let memory catch up, and see what the hell was real, what was not.”

Matthew McConaughey floated the Amazon River for 22 days to find himself

McConaughey’s first stop on his journey to enlightenment a monastery, followed by a spontaneous trip to Peru. 

“I packed up my stuff, I went to a monastery for about a week,” McConaughey says. “And then I got back and I went off—I had this certain dream, a repeating dream that came to me, and I went to Peru and floated the Amazon for 22 days.”

McConaughey then reveals how his time alone in Peru helped him. According to McConaughey, floating the Amazon gave him clarity about who he was and provided space for a spiritual transformation. 

“… It was a forced solitude. Nobody there knew my name, they didn’t speak English,” McConaughey says. I was forced to be with myself and my thoughts in my own company, which I was not enjoying. So after about 12 days of shaking the monkeys off of my back, figuring out what the hell I was going to forgive myself for and what I was gonna lay down the hammer and say ‘Enough’s enough’ about, I came out of it, woke up one morning light as a feather and shook hands with myself and said ‘We’re gonna be alright, man. You’re the one person I can’t get rid of, McConaughey, so we might as well get along …”

Matthew McConaughey needed to separate from the ‘excess’ of Hollywood

For McConaughey, the time away from Hollywood was essential. 

“… that recalibration helped a lot to disseminate throught all the bulls— and all the excess of affluence that was coming at me at the time,” McConaughey says. “And I found some discernment. You know, I found some discrimination in my choices again, and moved on from there.”

McConaughey also explains that his trip to the Amazon wasn’t the only time he’s had to take a break from Hollywood. He’s had several moments in his life where he needed to step away from the Hollywood facade. 

“I’ve had to do that. I’ve had to take off on my own many times to go recalibrate,” McConaughey says. “… Hollywood’s not a place to go find yourself. Hollywood’s a place where you can be anything you want. It’s infinite yeses. Well, in the infinite yeses, as you know, the infinite options can make a tyrant of any of us.”