Matthew McConaughey is getting candid about his traumatizing past. In a new interview, the True Detective actor spoke about being blackmailed into having sex as a teenager and being drugged and molested by a man when he was 18. He has previously spoken about this in his 2020 memoir, Greenlights. Though he wouldn’t go into too much detail about either incident, he said he knew that something was wrong based on the guidance he received from his parents.
McConaughey, 52, recalled the first time he learned about consent and what his father taught him about sex and intimacy. “Well, I had been taught, been guided by my parents about respect for a woman, respect for the relationship, respect for sexual intimacy, respect for space,” McConaughey said. “My dad had always had this thing when he taught us the birds and the bees. And so he says, ‘Son, as a male in the situation’ — speaking to me about a heterosexual relationship — ‘If you ever feel the girl, the female, hesitate, stop.’ He even said this: he goes, ‘You may even feel them hesitate, and then after you stop, they may go, oh, no, no, come on. Don’t. Wait till next time.’ And he was right.”
McConaughey said that thanks to lessons like those, he was very clear about what a healthy sexual relationship was and what wasn’t. When he was 15 and was blackmailed into having sex, he knew right away that things weren’t right.
“But I was very clear, again, that was not right, that was not cool, that was not the way it is,” he recalled. “After that, I got to have some healthy sexual relations and have girls that I liked and liked me, and we slowly got intimate and it was beautiful and clumsy, and all those things, but it wasn’t ugly like that was.”
He was molested years later at 18. Though the actor has not gone to therapy to work past the trauma he’s faced, he said he’s had a lot of people in his life that have helped him through it. “I’ve had very good friends. I’ve had good mentors. I’ve had elder men, elder women, married couples, that pulled it off — from celebrating 50-year anniversaries, that have taken the time to sit with me. My father and mother, you know, where the messenger and the message did not meet, is revealed a lot of times when we lose a father,” he said, before noting that he sometimes found his parents’ advice and way of doing things to be hypocritical.
McConaughey said he didn’t have the “option” to dwell on the trauma he experienced, saying, “I’m not gonna be afraid of relationships because my first experience was blackmail. Uh uh. That’s an aberration. No, no. That’s not the way it is. And if I go on — and I’m not gonna let it beat me. I’m going, ‘I’m not gonna let that beat my sense of trust in people and say, ‘No, I can have a healthy relationship.’ Non-negotiable. No,” he insisted. “Am I denying that it happened? No. I’m not denying that it happened. Ugly. Ugh. I still get, even telling you this story, I get — but am I gonna carry that? I chose, non-negotiably, I’m not going to carry that, bring that baggage into the life I’m going to lead, and how I treat people and how I trust people, and how I look at circumstances and the risk I may take.”