Legend has it that if you utter the word “alright” three times in front of a mirror you’ll summon a young Matthey McConauhgey. The signature catchphrase has long been a part of the actor’s repertoire. However, while some excited female millennials may believe that the line originated from the film Magic Mike, where McConaughey’s character greeted an excited audience at his strip club with the words (while wearing chaps), the phrase actually existed long before that.
During his opening monologue for his guest host appearance on Saturday Night Live the Academy Award-winning actor revealed the true origin behind his catchphrase in a story about his first acting job ever. He recalls being a young college student in a bar, when he runs into a producer and they end up chatting for hours. While sharing a cab ride home, the producer asks him if he’s ever done any acting. He hadn’t. So the man sends McConaughey a script. The movie? Dazed and Confused.
As any ‘80s or ‘90s kid knows, the 1993 flick included a short but unforgettable part for McConaughey as an aging former high school student that was deemed a breakout role for the up-and-coming thespian. The 24-year-old was only set to have a couple of lines. But when he showed up on set for a fitting and makeup test, writer/director Richard Linklater decided that McConaughey’s character, David Wooderson, might fit well in a scene they were about to film.
McConaughey says he then proceeded in his first-ever acting role in a film, while essentially winging it, unscripted.
The actor gathered from the few lines he had that his character seemed to love four things in life: cars, weed, rock & roll, and women. In the scene, he was in his car with his friend in the passenger seat, which pretty well guaranteed they’d be getting high, while rocker Ted Nugent played on the radio. In the distance, there was a woman described as a “red-headed intellectual.” Could this be the woman Wooderson needed to round out his quartet of perfection? It was at this moment that the phrase came to the young McConaughey as a perfect way to describe his feelings: “alright, alright, alright.”
And there you have it. That said, McConaughey’s delivery is far more compelling than any words could describe. Have a look at the video above.