Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Come for the Matthew McConaughey memoir, stay for the Joan Jett monsoon mud fight story

Matthew McConaughey, Jimmy Fallon, Questlove
Matthew McConaughey, Jimmy Fallon, Questlove
Screenshot: The Tonight Show

If anybody’s equipped to deal with socially responsible family quarantine during this pandemic, it’s gotta be Matthew McConaughey. Appearing on Thursday’s Tonight Show in an open-necked yellow shirt we’re gonna call “relaxed-wear cult,” the Interstellar star was there to pitch his new sort-of memoir, Greenlights. A collection of musings, anecdotes, aphorisms, and “a whole lot of bumper stickers,” the book, according to McConaughey, represents a judicious culling of his 30 years-worth of journaling. It’s a product of both the now 50-year-old McConaughey’s desire to codify his on- and off-screen brand of spacey inspirational wisdom and, as he told Jimmy Fallon (or “Jimmy-Jimmy-Jimmy, don’t call me James,” in McConaughey-speak), a way to fend off the shutdown blues. “Get your ass out of here,” is how McConaughey explained his wife’s no-doubt well-intentioned advice about sequestering himself for a few weeks of journal-editing.

Saying that the book’s title is a metaphor about our desire to have the universe urge us on with a friendly “Go!” signal, and how we have to learn that even those pesky yellows and reds offer up the opportunity for a brighter green on down “the highway of life,” McConaughey was in full-on laid-back guru mode. With the drawling, unforced confidence that makes even phrases like “vision-making paradigms” sound eminently rational, The Gentlemen’s gentleman told Fallon that we, as a genuinely not laid-back country right now, need to “find our frequency,” a process he unpacks not unreasonably as “each of us individually looking in the mirror and challenging ourselves to be more responsible, more empathetic, to value each other more, and just plain be better people.” Kind of long for one of those bumper stickers, but decent advice nonetheless.

After their interview proper (concluded by McConaughey describing Greenlights as “takin’ a spaceship to Mars, and not needing a pilot’s license”), Fallon got the always-game actor to join in on one of his signature late-night party games. Thankfully, any party is going to benefit by having Matthew McConaughey around—and that the off-tempo musical guessing game was performed by The Roots didn’t hurt—and watching the stumped but grooving McConaughey trying to guess a cool jazz “Joy To The World” is pretty irresistible. Also serendipitously, The Roots finished up with a countrified but still-awesome rendition of “I Love Rock ’N Roll,” allowing McConaughey to launch into an equally amazing (yet somehow inevitable) tale about seeing Jett perform on a Louisiana swamp island in 1984. There’s a monsoon, a bayou, a mud fight, a totally into-it Jett, and everything else you could expect and hope for when Matthew McConaughey’s on your guest list.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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