Matthew McConaughey has opened up about his harrowing experience being molested and blackmailed as a teenager.
The actor, 52, appeared on Amanda de Cadenet’s The Conversation: About the Men podcast this week to elaborate on the stories he’s previously revealed in his book Greenlights.
On the podcast, he spoke to de Cadenet about being blackmailed into having sex as a teenager, then being drugged and molested by a man when he was just 18.
McConaughey said that in both instances, he knew something was wrong because of the things his parents had taught him about sex and intimacy while growing up.
“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 explained.
McConaughey says his dad sat him down to give him a chat about consent at the same time as his first “birds and the bees” talk.
“He told me, ‘Son, as a male in the situation, if you ever feel the girl 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, I got in certain senses where it was like, ‘No, no, no. OK, I’m out.’ And saying, ‘OK, cool. I’m out.’ The girl went, ‘Oh, well, no, come on.’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no.’ He said, ‘Trust you’ll have another day, if it is to be.'”
The Dallas Buyers Club actor says that, thanks to lessons like those, he had a very clear idea of what a healthy relationship and interaction should look like. That’s how, he says, he felt right away, that being blackmailed into sex at 15 wasn’t right at all.
“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 continued.
Just three years after being blackmailed into sex, the actor was molested at the age of 18.
In his book, he wrote that he was “molested by a man when I was 18 while knocked unconscious in the back of a van”.
The actor admits that he hasn’t gone to therapy to discuss either of the two incidents, but credits the people in his life with providing him the support he needs.
“I’ve had very good friends. I’ve had good mentors,” he shared.
“I never quit believing in the things my mom and dad were teaching me in the middle of finding out, ‘Oh, maybe they were hypocritical about what they were teaching and what they were actually doing,'” McConaughey added.
He also told host de Cadenet that he refuses to let what happened to him as a teen affect his subsequent relationships.
“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.
“I’m not denying that it happened,” he insisted.
“I chose, [sic] 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,” he said.
McConaughey’s memoir, published in 2020, goes into detail about aspects of his life and career. He discusses how he cut off his own mum after she leaked information about him to the press, his time as an exchange student in Australia, how he almost quit Hollywood, and his relationship with his wife Camila Alves.
If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual violence and is in need of support, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), the National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Service. You can also contact Lifeline (13 11 14).