The youngest son of a gas station owner, who ran an oil pipe supply business and mother - substitute school teacher, Matthew McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas, but 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. Shortly thereafter moving to L.A., Matthew became a sensation with his performances in two high-profile 1996 films Lone Star (1996), where he portrayed killing suspected sheriff and in the film adaptation of John Grisham's novel A Time to Kill (1996), where he played an idealistic young lawyer opposite Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey. The actor was soon being hailed as one of the industry's hottest young leading man inspiring comparisons to actor Paul Newman. His following performances were Robert Zemeckis' Contact (1997) with Jodie Foster (the film was finished just before the death of the great astronomer and popularizer of space science Carl Sagan) and Steven Spielberg's Amistad (1997), a fact-based 1839 story about the rebellious African slaves. In 1998, he teamed again with Richard Linklater as one of the bank-robbing brothers in The Newton Boys (1998), set in Matthew's birthplace, Uvalde, Texas. During this time, he also wrote, directed and starred in the 20-minute short The Rebel (1998). Later, in Jonathan Mostow's U-571 (2000), McConaughey portrayed the officer Lt. Tyler in a WW II story of a daring mission of American submariners, trying to capture the Enigma cipher machine. Matthew also took a part in comedies such as The Wedding Planner (2001), opposite Jennifer Lopez and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) in which he co-starred with Kate Hudson. His most interesting role was playing Denton Van Zan, an American warrior and dragons hunter in the futuristic thriller Reign of Fire (2002), where he co-starred with another young actor, Christian Bale.