Matthew McConaughey reveals the five-word phrase he lives by

Actor discovered phrase before talk-show appearance with Jay Leno

Brittany Miller
New York
Friday 15 September 2023 05:38 BST

Related: ‘Earn before you deserve’: Matthew McConaughey tells followers

Matthew McConaughey has candidly revealed what phrase he uses when he gets nervous and needs to calm himself down.

On Tuesday 12 September, the actor sat down for an interview with Today about the release of his new children’s book Just Because, when the conversation took a turn as McConaughey began discussing his first time appearing on a talk show in the mid 90s.

He was preparing for the show to go live when Jay Leno, who was the show’s host, came up to him and called him out on his nerves. “He comes into the greenroom and goes: ‘You nervous?’ I go: ‘Yeah,’” McConaughey recalled.

“He goes: ‘It’s easy.’ You ready for the recipe on how to handle this?’” He then shared a specific phrase with the actor to calm his nerves, which McConaughey revealed was, “Just want to be here.”

According to the actor, this is advice that he still uses to this day. “I remind myself of that all the time, ‘Wherever you are, just want to be here.’ If you want to be where you are, you’re kind of like: ‘Well great.’ It makes it easy,” McConaughey said.

Despite the amount of public appearances he’s engaged in over the decades, he said he still gets nervous. However, he said he’s learned to view the nerves as a good thing rather than a bad thing. “If I don’t have those butterflies, then I get concerned,” he explained.

“Maybe I’m being complacent, maybe I’m being arrogant, maybe I’m trying to oversee the situation like: ‘I’m above this. I got this.’ Then I won’t be present,” he said.

The actor said this was the basis for his forthcoming children’s book, which is meant to highlight feelings that contradict each other so children can learn to move past them.

He has credited his children with helping him come up with the idea for Just Because, which is a collection of “life lessons that empowers readers, big and small, to celebrate how we are all full of possibility”.

For example, McConaughey said, “If you admit, ‘I’m nervous and I’m excited,’ that inherently breaks the contradiction and becomes something much more valuable, which is a paradox.”

The How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days star mentions that he tries to talk to his three children with wife Camila Alves McConaughey, about this lesson regularly. But even though he tries to teach his children life lessons, this hasn’t stopped them from trying to teach him lessons.

“My eldest [Levi] teaches me consideration daily. He’s extremely considerate,” he said of one of his sons. “My daughter [Vida] has taught me leniency, forgiveness. She’ll put you in jail, but she’ll give you the key to get out of the cell when she puts you in."

As for his youngest son, Livingston, he has taught his father determination and “focus on achievement”.

“He gets extremely focused, and when I see that look in his eye, I already know, ‘Today, he’s gonna play great’ or ‘he’s gonna nail this.’ And he does, whoosh,” the actor said of his son.

He explained that his youngest child can easily get into the zone and once he does “the rest of the world goes into the background”.

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