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Matthew McConaughey is talking about more than just his movies now. In his new memoir Greenlights, McConaughey writers about everything from his childhood through his whole career. His childhood was somewhat unconventional, leading some readers to question exactly what he experienced. Those readers include Howard Stern.

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey | Theo Wargo/WireImage

McConaughey was a guest on The Howard Stern Show on Oct. 21 to promote Greenlights. Stern was concerned about some of McConaughey’s childhood stories, including those where his parents used physical force to teach him lessons. McConaughey explained how he sees it. 

Matthew McConaughey learned never to answer to Matt

Many Matthews go by the shorter version Matt. McConaughey only made that mistake once, when he was a child in school where his mother, Mary Kathleen, taught Kindergarten. 

My friend John Griffith who said, ‘Hey Matt, you wanna play on the monkey bars?’ Yeah, I wanna go. Here I go running. While I’m going across the playground, I feel a hand on my shoulder. Bam, slammed on the ground. I look up, who’s on top of me going, ‘What’s your name?’ My mother. ‘Uh, Matthew.’ ‘Why’d you go answer to that name Matt? I go, ‘I don’t know, I knew he was talking to me.’ She goes, ‘Don’t you ever, ever answer to Matt. I named you Matthew for a reason. Don’t ever answer to Matt.’

Matthew McConaughey, The Howard Stern Show, 10/21/2020

Matthew McConaughey doesn’t call this abusive

Even though more parents frown on corporal punishment today, McConaughey believes his mother’s point got through. 

“I don’t remember pain from that moment,” McConaughey told Stern. “What I remember is: hey, we named you your name for a reason. I got over the embarrassment. I got over the shock and went on.”

Matthew McConaughey and Kay McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey and mother Mary Kathleen “Kay” McConaughey | L. Cohen/WireImage

That’s not to minimize young McConaughey’s experience. 

“Yeah, I was crying,” McConaughey said. “I was like holy sh*t, I’m on the playground, all the kids are looking at my own mom, some of them their own teacher, my teacher pinned me to the ground and slammed me on the ground and said, ‘Don’t you ever answer to that again.’”

He follows his mother’s wishes to this day 

Even as an A-list, Oscar winning Hollywood actor, McConaughey still asks people not to call him Matt.

“You can call me Matt,” McConaughey said. “I don’t answer to Matt from that day on. I’ve gone through my life going, ‘Matthew please, my mom gets very upset. You can call me McConaughey or Matthew. Just don’t call me Matt. My mom gets very upset.’ There’s value in that.”

Rooster McConaughey had no such restrictions 

McConaughey’s brother Rooster seems to have escaped such restrictions. He chose his own name later in life. 

“Hey, he became a rebel and said, ‘You know what, I’ll go by another name,’” Mcconaughey said. “Over the years he had proven in his life no matter what time he went to bed, even if it was five a.m. he woke up when the sun rose and so he got the name Rooster. Hell, I don’t know.”

Matthew McConaughey defends his mother’s strict teaching 

Stern kept pushing McConaughey that experiences he described in Greenlights were child abuse. McConaughey defended his parents.

Matthew McConaughey Zoom
Matthew McConaughey| NBC

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“Look, we all see things differently,” McConaughey said. “Am I going to sit here and go, ‘Let me change the way I saw that?’ I lived through it. So on paper you could call it abuse. On paper you could call it we should’ve called Child Protective Services. You can call it that on paper but no one can steal away what I experienced and how I see it.”

Perhaps Greenlights was a way for McConaughey to make peace with his childhood.

“I’m not in any way in denial about it,” McConaughey said. “I write about it in the book very openly, very vivid. We’ve told stories and hemmed and hawed and gave my mom sh*t about that for years. She never apologized and we never asked her to apologize.”