"The thing I think I do most honorably is having three autonomous, conscientious, confident children," the actor said at the History channel's HISTORYTalks in New York City

By Dana Rose Falcone
March 02, 2020 04:55 PM
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He’s played a detective, an HIV-positive electrician, the guy who never left high school and the lead countless romantic comedies, but there was only one role Matthew McConaughey ever really wanted.

“I remember at 8 years old, it’s really the only thing I ever knew I wanted to be was a dad,” the actor, 50, said at Saturday’s HISTORYTalks, Leadership & Legacy in New York City.

Today, McConaughey raises three children — sons Levi, 11, and Livingston, 7, and daughter Vida, 10 — with his wife, model and Yummy Spoonfuls co-owner Camila Alves. But if it was up to the Oscar winner, he’d have even more.

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Matthew McConaughey at HISTORYTalks in New York City on Feb. 29.
Noam Galai/Getty

“I’d like to have eight more kids, but my wife’s not on the same page,” he told the audience at Carnegie Hall. “I understand that. It’s a lot easier for us [men].”

While reflecting on his career and what he hopes to leave behind, McConaughey called his kids “my living legacy.”

“I’ve got a large hand in shepherding my three children up until they’re 18 and out of the house,” he said. “Yeah, see if I hold on to my words in a few years. That’s the thing I think I do most honorably is having three autonomous, conscientious, confident children.”

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The University of Austin professor revealed that becoming a dad for the first time caused him to rethink his career.

“I looked up and started to say … you know what, I just had a son. I said, the character I am in my life, the man I am in my life, the story I’m living is more vibrant than the characters in the stories that I feel like I’m playing in some of these romantic comedies,” McConaughey said. “So, I took off in kind of an un-branding phase. Not a rebranding phase, an un-branding phase.”

Camila Alves and Matthew McConaughey.
Jae C Hong/AP/REX/Shutterstock

That time off allowed McConaughey to be seen as someone other than “the shirtless guy on the beach in a rom-com,” the Texas native and Austin Minister of Culture/M.O.C. said.

“By being away, by un-branding, then all of a sudden, things came to me that I was wanting to do. Dramatic roles that I’d been pursuing that weren’t coming my way. So then I went on a run with Killer Joe, Mud, Magic Mike. I got ahold of Dallas Buyers Club, but no one wanted to make it with me. Then we made that. For about 11 years I’ve been on a run that I’ve been enjoying,” he shared.

And McConaughey’s been able to involve his kids in his career renaissance by bringing them to set. “I have my kids come out, we put them to work,” he said. “We give them a little cash for catering. My daughter’s gone in to work with seamstresses and the costume departments.”