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Matthew McConaughey reflects on how his mentor, Don Phillips, started his career

Written by on October 5, 2022

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Matthew McConaughey understands the importance of a good mentor, because he had one in the late Don Phillips.

The actor told ABC Audio Phillips did far more than help him get cast in Dazed and Confused, his first major movie where he starred as Wooderson. “He’s the guy who said, ‘You can sleep on my couch when you get out to Hollywood,'” McConaughey recalled. It was mid-August, 1993, and he had “less than 500 bucks to my name.”

Phillips also gave McConaughey some tough love when he was anxious about getting an agent. The Oscar-winning actor recalled, “He … sat me down and actually cussed me out and said, ‘No. You’re not ready because you’re too anxious. You need an agent too much right now and they’re going to smell your desperation. And if they smell you’re desperate, you’ll never have a chance in Hollywood.'”

“He was right,” McConaughey remarked. “So I got patient and started doing some other work, forgot about getting an agent. And he comes by one day and he goes, ‘Now you’re ready.'”

“Next day [I] went in. Had that meeting, was relaxed, was myself [and I] got an agent in my first two reads and ended up getting the job. And that was how my career started,” McConaughey reflected.

Now, he’s paying it forward by teaming up with Wild Turkey and Spaceflight Records for a new mentorship program called 101 Bold Nights. Emerging artists or bands can apply to be mentored by Spaceflight and learn “the ways to make it forward and how to navigate getting into this game [from the right people],” said McConaughey, who added, “Getting in the door can be the hardest thing.” 

Phillips, a prolific casting director, passed away in November 2021. He was 80.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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