Even among those who aren’t quite sure how to spell actor Matthew McConaughey’s name, the star is instantly recognizable and has turned in tons of performances with staying power. Just to name a few: There was his rabid turn in Season 1 of 2014’s True Detective as Detective Rustin “Rust” Cohle,” his absurdly pensive Lincoln car commercials, and his earlier days in rom-coms like 2001’s The Wedding Planner and 2003’s How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. But regardless of whatever work he might do in the future and everything else he’s done in the past, McConaughey is most associated with a phrase he apparently improvised on the first scene he ever shot for 1993’s Dazed and Confused: “Alright, alright, alright.”
The surfer-stoner patois has taken on a legendary life of its own, and it’s one of many, many things written about in the rear-view in McConaughey’s new memoir, Greenlighting. The book, in the Academy Award-winning actor’s own words, is full of “notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud.” But more to the point here, in an excerpt that ran in The Hollywood Reporter, McConaughey writes that he was “only called on set [of Dazed and Confused] to do a makeup and wardrobe set,” when director Richard Linklater suddenly, upon seeing his look, suggested his character play a greater role. He pitched McConaughey an idea for a scene where his character “would try to pick up Marissa Ribisi’s Cynthia.” What he didn’t pitch McConaughey on was dialog for the character.