Matthew McConaughey Shares The Real Origin Story Behind His Infamous ‘Alright, Alright, Alright’ Line

Oftentimes when an actor makes their film or TV debut, that project doesn’t end up ranking high on their filmography should said actor become famous, but not so with Matthew McConaughey, who initially looked at acting as a stopgap.

Over 30 years after the release of Dazed and Confused, it remains one of McConaughey’s best movies. He played David Wooderson in the Richard Linklater-directed flick, and the character’s delivery of the line “Alright, alright, alright” has followed McConaughey ever since. He’s now shared the origin story of how that line came to be, which he had no idea people would still be bringing up to him all these decades later.

The origin of Matthew McConaughey's "Alright, Alright, Alright"

Naturally Dazed and Confused came up as the first topic of conversation while Matthew McConaughey was breaking down his most iconic roles with People. As the actor recalled, the scene where Wooderson pulls up next to Cynthia Dunn and strikes up a flirtatious conversation with her was never actually in the script. On the day it was shot, McConaughey had gone to the set to do a makeup and wardrobe test for Richard Linklater to approve. The director did so, then asked McConaughey if he thought Wooderson would be “interested in the redheaded intellectual girl in school,” and McConaughey noted that his character likes “all types of chicks.”

So Linklater suggested that they shoot a scene where Wooderson parks his car next to the one Cynthia was in and tries to pick her up, which led to the following unfolding:

Next thing I know, I got a mic on me and I’m in that first scene. There’s nothing written and I’m starting to get a little nervous about this. And I start to go, ‘Well who’s my man? Who’s Wooderson?’ I said, ‘Wooderson loves his car.’ And I’m like, ‘Well I’m in my car. There’s one.’ I said, ‘Wooderson loves rock and roll.’ I said, ‘Well I got Ted Nugent in the 8-track. There’s two.’ I said, ‘Wooderson loves to get high.’ I said, ‘Well Slater’s riding shotgun, he’s always got a doobie rolled up.’ I said, ‘And Wooderson likes picking up chicks.’ And all of a sudden I hear, ‘Action!’ And I looked up, and [I see] Marissa Ribisi, the redheaded intellectual over there. And as I put it in drive, I thought to myself, ‘I got three out of four and I’m going to get the fourth… alright, alright, alright!’ And I pulled out [claps]. And that was three affirmations for the thing that my character had as he was going to get his fourth.

The Origin Of Matthew McConaughey's 'Alright, Alright, Alright' - YouTube

And with that, film history was made. Maybe there’s a universe where “Alright, alright, alright” didn’t catch on with the public, but in our universe, it’s arguably the most famous thing Matthew McConaughey has said onscreen, and definitely one of Dazed and Confused’s most hilarious quotes. There’s probably even a sizable amount of people who associated that line with McConaughey and haven’t seen seen Dazed and Confused. The actor continued:

And it was a kickstarter. I had no idea that line would precede me for the rest of my life. That was the night of a job I thought might be one day’s work as a hobby. One Saturday night in Austin, Texas and I would never do it again. And it turned out to be a career. So I take it as a compliment. Every time I hear it, I’m like, ‘That was the first three words you said ever on film 30-something years ago.’

You can see this moment, along with Matthew McConaughey’s other biggest scenes in Dazed and Confused (which an be streamed with a Peacock subscription), below:

As far as his more recent work goes, McConaughey’s last live-action outing was in 2019’s The Gentlemen, which has been spun off into a TV series for Netflix subscribers. He also reprised Buster Moon in 2021’s Sing 2 and voiced Elvis Presley in the short-lived Netflix series Agent Elvis. His upcoming movies include The Rivals of Amziah King and The Lost Bus. If you’re still interested in learning more about Dazed and Confused, read through the behind-the-scenes facts.

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