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The story of how Jim Morrison gave Matthew McConaughey his catchphrase

Matthew McConaughey has enjoyed an interesting career. Whether it be the beginning where he starred in supporting roles, the late 1990s where he moonlighted as a leading man in outings such as A Time to Kill, the mid-2000s in rom-com purgatory or, the 2010s where he became one of the most well-respected actors of the contemporary era, McConaughey’s career has been one of the most oscillating we’ve ever seen. 

He’s known as an ice-cool Texan who loves playing the bongos in the nude in his spare time. His recent memoir Greenlights is one of the most genuine efforts a Hollywood actor has ever produced. A big character whose career has been as interesting as his life, it’s likely we’ll be discussing Matthew McConaughey for many years to come. 

However, you know as well as I, that there is one moment that stands out in his career that is more enduring in popular culture than his portrayal of the mercurial Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club or the philosophically bleak Rust Cohle in True Detective. Of course, we’re talking about his turn as David Wooderson in 1993’s Dazed and Confused

This was the film that cemented the idea of McConaughey as one of the most iconic actors out there. Wooderson’s catchphrase, “alright, alright, alright” is perhaps the most memorable of the ’90s. It turns out that this iconic line was actually formulated with the help of ‘The Lizard King’ himself, Jim Morrison.

Ad-libbed, McConaughey took his cues from The Doors frontman, so there’s no surprise that Wooderson is so well-loved. Famously, the “alright, alright, alright” scene was the first he ever shot. Naturally, some hesitation came over what to say and how to deliver it. 

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Per a report in USA Today, McConaughey was listening to The Doors while getting ready for the scene and was thinking about what to say after many discussions about the character’s temperament with director Richard Linklater. McConaughey had been listening to a live Doors album, and during the show, Morrison said, “All right, all right, all right, all right”, and immediately this became a source of inspiration for McConaughey. 

This set the wheel in motion for McConaughey. He recalled that he thought about the main facets of Wooderson’s character. He thought Wooderson was about four things: “His car, gettin’ high, rock & roll and pickin’ up chicks.”

“I’m in my car; I’m high as a kite; I’m listening to rock & roll,” McConaughey remembered in an interview with George Stroumboulopoulos in 2014. “Action! And there’s the chick – ‘All right, all right, all right!’ Three out of four!”

Watch McConaughey talk about how Jim Morrison inspired Wooderson below.