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Greenlights summary

Matthew McConaughey

A tour into the life and mind of award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey

4.3 (231 ratings)
40 mins
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    Tough Love

    The McConaughey clan has had its fair share of outlaws in the past. Cattle thieves, gamblers, even a bodyguard for the infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone. The family can be traced backward from New Orleans, to West Virginia, to Liverpool in England, all the way back to their home country of Ireland.

    Matthew McConaughey’s father, Jim, was born in Louisiana, but the family settled in Texas, where he hustled to make it rich as a pipe salesman in the oil business. His mom, Katy, was from Altoona, Pennsylvania, but told everyone she was from Trenton, New Jersey. Why not just tell the truth? Well, as she put it, “who’d wanna be from a place called Altoona?”

    Both parents had some unorthodox ideas that they passed down to their children, and their relationship with each other was combative, to say the least. But in the end, there was always love.

    Matthew recalls a particularly eventful clash between his parents in 1974, when he was five years old. Jim had just gotten home from a long day at work. Everyone else had already eaten, so Katy brought out a plate of food that had been kept warm in the oven.

    When Jim asked for more potatoes, Katy replied, “Sure you want more potatoes, fat man?” At first, Jim didn’t take the bait. But Katy continued to bark at him, calling him “fat man,” and throwing heaping spoonfuls of mashed potatoes onto his plate, until Jim stood up and threw the table into the air.

    As he approached her, he said, “You can’t leave well enough alone, can ya, Katy?” But when he got close, Katy picked up the phone, swung it into his face, and broke his nose. Then she grabbed a knife, threatening to cut him “wide open.” Jim, blood gushing down his face and onto his shirt, grabbed a ketchup bottle and held it as if it were a sword and he was a matador. As he waved it around, streaks of ketchup came out and splashed against Katy. “Touché!” Jim said as he danced around the kitchen.

    They stalked each other around the room until ketchup-covered Katy finally dropped the knife, blood-soaked Jim dropped the ketchup, and the two passionately embraced each other. The next moment, they were on the floor making love.

    In the end, Matthew’s mom and dad got two divorces. But they married each other three times. His dad broke his mom’s middle finger on four separate occasions, after she’d stuck it in his face. This was how they got through to one another. This was how they loved one another.

    Matthew got a few whuppings of his own growing up, for things like telling one of his two brothers that he hated him, or saying the two words “I can’t.” These were important lessons and values learned. This was how he was taught to never hate, and never to say you can’t.

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    What is Greenlights about?

    Greenlights (2020) is a guided tour into the life and mind of award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey. These blinks tell his story as only he could tell it, full of “outlaw logic” that has informed a wildly original personal philosophy for how to live life to its utmost.

    Best quote from Greenlights

    When we know what we want to do, knowing when to do it is the hard part.

    —Matthew McConaughey
    example alt text

    Who should read Greenlights?

    • Fans of the McConaissance
    • Anyone eager to generate their own greenlights
    • People interested in the inner workings of a creative mind

    About the Author

    Matthew McConaughey is an Oscar-winning actor whose career stretches back to 1993’s Dazed and Confused and includes such hits as A Time to Kill, The Lincoln Lawyer, Interstellar, and True Detective. He’s also a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin and co-creator of Wild Turkey Longbranch bourbon.

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