CLASSIC CHARM is a video essay series analyzing the world’s most charming men throughout history to help make you better with the fairer sex.
When I try figuring out a personality, I like to see what makes that person tick. I don’t focus on the mannerisms, tone, or other surface idiosyncrasies someone might portray. Because I know that stuff is merely the product of what’s going on on the inside. And once I can figure out what makes them tick, it might awaken some hidden values and ideals in me which I previously may have not known were there, and ultimately evolve the quality of my own character.
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Enough with the foofy talk.
I spent all week trying to crack Matthew McConaughey. For a while, I was convinced I would be discussing in detail the value of his relaxed demeanor: The exact thing that made him famous in the first place. But I realize that is not a value that drives McConaughey. I spent some more time watching his interviews, noticing how comfortable he was interacting with people. He could have just as easily been sharing a couple of Miller Lights during an interview for the mere fact of how familiar and personal he made each interaction. For Matthew McConaughey, he’s not on a press circuit, he’s at a bonfire chatting about life with his lifelong friends.
But still, I don’t believe this is the source of McConaughey’s classic charm.
After drowning in a sea of interviews for hours on end I started noticing a consistency.
Why did this sport-loving, jeans, boots, leather jacket-wearin’, relaxed Texan, join the thespian arts? I finally realized the thing that makes this man breathe:
Matthew McConaughey is passionate about stories.
Time and time again, though perfectly engaging throughout each interview, it’s only when Matthew begins to tell a story that his entire being light up. You see his eyes dart back into the past as if he is reliving it in the present moment. He is being charged by the whole experience. He is dying to get you to see and feel exactly the same way he felt as it happened to him.
Do you think Mr. Alright himself learned how to tell stories by purposely rehearsing those unique cadences by which we all know and love him? No. I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone truly charming practices the beats.
What do I think? I think as a kid, Matthew might have had a charismatic Southern uncle who would light up the room telling stories. I think little Matthew would sit cross-legged, hypnotized, completely suspended by the words of his uncle’s past.
And because of this, I’m thinking that he holds more value on the past than the present or the future. Because in the present, what is is exactly that: What is. But with the past, you have an opportunity to tune into the exact elements that affected you the most. The memory of the past can very well be an amplification of what really happened. And here’s the funny part: That doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
I learned this concept studying sound engineering in college. After you record music to exactly the way it could be heard, you then make changes. Take this simple ukulele progression I recorded just a moment ago as I was thinking of a good way to convey Matthew McConaughey’s deep connection and relationship to the past. I am leveraging the dreaminess of the major 7 chord in this progression, which always puts me on a cloud. Maybe in a hammock on the beach on some little island away from the world. As I was playing it—I was there. I swear I was. I felt almost high on some ectasy-type pill that I’ve never taken before but I’m sure feels the same way I feel when I’m strumming these chords. The resonance of my ukulele is humming against my chest. I’m hypnotized, the same way Matthew Alright Alright Alright McConaughey was when his presumed uncle was when he would paint rich pictures with his words into little Matthew’s ears. But now that I listen back to what I recorded, it sounds dry. The hammock isn’t there anymore. I just hear the chord progression. What a sound engineer tries to do is to do justice of the original performance. So he will amplify and manipulate certain aspects. Mind you, he is not adding anything to the music itself. It’s still the same exact chord progression. But now I am helping you to focus on the same aspect that I was focusing on while it was in my hands, and I was playing it.
I don’t think McConaughey tells tall tales. He doesn’t spin webs. I think he values the past too much to exaggerate plot points or character traits. He wants to keep the story crystalline—revisiting it as though it’s an old friend that never changes. Matthew likes to mention the parts of a story where he finds to be most meaningful to him—which means he is not afraid of including the maybe embarrassing or vulnerable aspects of his experience.
And this is one of the biggest reasons for Matthew’s charm. It isn’t his charisma while telling the stories, though he is charismatic. It isn’t how funny he is either—though being funny can be a result. The reason for Matthew’s charm while telling a story is his complete intimacy in which he relates the details of each tale. It’s his ability to tell you things about himself that you might not divulge about your own misfortunes or shortcomings at risk of embarrassment. But Matthew does it as though he in a small room with a lifelong friend. And that is what connects you to him so easily. That’s what makes him so charming.
Matthew McConaughey is yes, ridiculously handsome. He’s an amazing actor. He’s incredibly cool, clever, funny, and interesting. But that’s not what makes him so charming. It’s his ability to be incredibly vulnerable with anyone, anytime, anywhere, and to feel completely at ease and present while doing so.