Matthew McConaughey’s ‘Alright, Alright, Alright’: Where Did It Come From?

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

It’s the quintessential Matthew McConaughey catchphrase: “Alright, alright, alright.” We can hear it from afar, on a commercial, from across the room, and we know exactly who that is. He uttered it while accepting the Best Actor Academy Award for 2014’s “Dallas Buyers Club,” which took him from cheesy romance co-star to serious dramatic lead. But, where did this phrase come from, and why does McConaughey say it so much?

What are the Origins of Matthew McConaughey’s ‘Alright, Alright, Alright’?

Anyone who’s seen 1993’s “Dazed and Confused” knows the answer to this question. I’ve seen this movie maybe once in my life and I still know the answer, it’s that recognizable. McConaughey played a bit part in the Richard Linklater classic coming-of-age film, which followed a group of Texas teenagers in the last days of high school in 1976. He played David Wooderson, a recent grad who spent his time cruising around, smoking weed, and “L-I-V-I-N.”

McConaughey got the part because he approached Linklater at a bar in Austin; Linklater initially thought McConaughey was “too handsome” and didn’t like him. But, eventually, another role that wasn’t working in the film was cut in favor of McConaughey. Many of Wooderson’s lines were improvised or written on the spot, and McConaughey fell into that role like a puzzle piece.

In a 2014 interview with George Stroumboulopoulos, McConaughey recalled when he came up with the iconic line. It was his first scene as Wooderson, when he drives up the burger joint. McConaughey said that he questioned his character’s personality in that moment, saying, “So right before we’re about to go, I’m, like, ‘Well, what is Wooderson about?'”

He continued, “Man, he’s about four things: He’s about his car, he’s about getting high, he’s about rock n’ roll, and picking up chicks. And I go, ‘I’m in my car, I’m high as a kite, I’m listening to rock ‘n’ roll… Action! And there’s the chick — alright, alright, alright. Three out of four.”

Apparently, the fourth “alright” was reserved for the girl in the distance, who he didn’t have yet. But, we’re left wondering, where did the idea to say “alright” even come from in the first place?

McConaughey Took Inspiration from The Doors for His Classic Line

According to Matthew McConaughey, he was listening to a live recording of The Doors just before filming his iconic “Dazed and Confused” scene. There’s a moment in the live cut where Jim Morrison hypes up the crowd by repeating “Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright!”

The rest is history for Matthew McConaughey. Taking that one word and attributing it to his character, he created a catchphrase for himself that bleeds cool. It calls to mind just taking your life easy, chilling out, and letting things happen. Admitting to yourself that you can’t control everything in your life. It’s smooth and effortless and saying it makes you feel almost relaxed. It says, “I can take on what life throws my way, and I’ll do it in with my sunglasses on and a drink in my hand.”