He battles deadly dragons in this summer's epic Reign of Fire, but at home in Austin, Texas, the multitalented actor with a megawatt smile enjoys a more casual, carefree existence.
Matthew McConaughey's journey to Austin was an odyssey of self-discovery. In the summer of 1988, the Texas native was part of an exchange program in Australia, with plans to study pre-law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Then his father, former pro-footballer-turned-oil-field-supplier "Big Jim" McConaughey, called and said, "What about, 'Hook 'Em, Horns?'" referring to the University of Texas in Austin. Matthew remembers: "My brother calls me a day later and says, 'Pop ain't gonna tell you this, but the reason he's saying 'Hook 'Em, Horns' is because it's about $10,000 a year cheaper and the oil business is not in good shape right now. But let me tell you about Austin. You like running around in your bare feet, no shirt, hippying around town?' He started telling me about the outdoor life, the weather, the women - Austin has beautiful women - and he said, 'Man, it's more you than SMU.' " Thus, Matthew McConaughey found his place in the world, both geographically and professionally. He switched from law to radio, television, and film, and landed his first acting role in 1993's Dazed and Confused when he met a casting director in an Austin bar. After his superstar turn three years later in A Time to Kill, McConaughey began a roll that hasn't slowed yet. This summer, he's back on the big screen in the sci-fi thriller Reign of Fire, which was filmed in Ireland and set in England, but the soul of the 32-year-old actor whom fellow Austinite Sandra Bullock calls "The Mayor of all Good Time" remains deep in the heart of Texas.