American actor and producer Matthew David McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas. His mother, Mary Kathleen (McCabe), is a substitute school teacher originally from New Jersey. His father, James Donald McConaughey, was a Mississippi-born gas station owner who ran an oil pipe supply business. He is of Irish, Scottish, English, German, and Swedish descent. Matthew grew up in Longview, Texas, where he graduated from the local High School (1988). Showing little interest in his father's oil business, which his two brothers later joined, Matthew was longing for a change of scenery, and spent a year in Australia, washing dishes and shoveling chicken manure. Back to the States, he attended the University of Texas in Austin, originally wishing to be a lawyer. But, when he discovered an inspirational Og Mandino book "The Greatest Salesman in the World" before one of his final exams, he suddenly knew he had to change his major from law to film.
He began his acting career in 1991, appearing in student films and commercials in Texas and directed short films as Chicano Chariots (1992). Once, in his hotel bar in Austin, he met the casting director and producer Don Phillips, who introduced him to director Richard Linklater for his next project. At first, Linklater thought Matthew was too handsome to play the role of a guy chasing high school girls in his coming-of-age drama Dazed and Confused (1993), but cast him after Matthew grew out his hair and mustache. His character was initially in three scenes but the role grew to more than 300 lines as Linklater encouraged him to do some improvisations. In 1995, he starred in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994), playing a mad bloodthirsty sadistic killer, opposite Renée Zellweger.