Why Matthew McConaughey's 'Greenlights' is not a typical memoir

The Academy Award-winning actor, college professor and father of three shares how he wrote his "playbook" based on what he's documented in journals he's kept throughout his life.
8:40 | 10/19/20

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Transcript for Why Matthew McConaughey's 'Greenlights' is not a typical memoir
So excited to talk to our next guest. An academy award winning actor, philanthropist, college professor, hook 'em horns and according to his pickle expert. Now he's written a memoir, "Greenlights," the one and only Matthew mcconaughey is joining us live. Good morning, y'all. Thank you for having me. The crowd goes wild. We love having you here even if it's virtually like this. Speaking of virtually, "Dazed and confused," your first movie and had you a virtual reunion with the cast, a table read for charity. What was it like reading those lines again, Matthew? Well, I did not have to rehearse. I can tell you that. I remember them. You know, so much of that script and -- that was my very first job I ever got in what became a career 28 years later. Getting to see everybody, I remember in the 45 minutes before the actual virtual read we all got to see each other and talk. Some looked younger than they did back then. Some people looked younger. It was really, really cool to catch up and for me that was the inception like I said, I didn't know if that was a one-off hobby but turned out to be a career for me. You know, you've been writing journals for most of your life and when you decided to write this book, you wanted to look back through them and to do so, I understand you went into the desert by yourself with no electricity. How did that go? For the most part it went well. Not the entire time and there were some cold nights. But, yeah, a total of 52 days. The first 12 were without electricity, after that there was a generator on hand at times but, yeah, I wanted to go away with all 36 years of my journal and see what the heck I had. I had been threatening to go away with them for the last 15 years but never had the courage to do it. Finally a got a little time on my hand and a kick in the back side by my wife which she does so well and said get out of here and don't come back home till you got something. What I found was what you got in this book, "Greenlights." What a great discipline to keep those journals all those years. One thing you write in the book, the only thing I ever knew I wanted to be was a father. Never a doubt ask. Never a doubt. This was -- at 8 years old I -- my dad was a big please and thank you man. You shake a man's hand. You look him in the eye and say yes, sir, no, sir, I was meeting some of his new friends looking up at them and shaking their hand and saying nice to meet you, sir. My 8-year-old mind what I noticed was every man that I had said sir to, the common denominator they were all fathers and I remember saying, that's when you made it. That's when you've succeeded in life when you become a father and so from that day on it was clear to me the one thing I knew I always wanted to be, always was -- You write about your father in the book a great deal. Matthew, how much do you think that you're like your dad? Very much. I hope, I hope even more sometimes, you know, he really instilled values in myself and my two brother, values that I know I wouldn't be sitting here, the man I am with the life I got if he wouldn't have worked to instill. Our family loved hard. We laughed hard. We hugged hard. We loved hard. It was not always pretty. But the love in our family was never, ever, ever in question. You said you earned those spankings. You said you earned them. I say in the book there's not a butt whooping I would trade in for the values that were instilled in me because of them. I know, every single one, there was never a time I got this trouble or got those butt whoopings where I didn't like, you definitely earned that one. Speaking of love, I know that you write about your wife Camila and write specifically about the moment you first saw her. Did you know she was the one? I can't say I knew she was the one. I will say this, she was moving to my right to left across a room and it did not look like she was walking meaning her head was not bobbing. She was for floating and I did not say who is that. I said what is that? And in the book I write about two pages in what went through my mind of who and what she was. When I just saw her move it was just four seconds of her moving and I will say this, every beautiful thing that went through my mind about who and what she was, she has turned out to be exactly that and then some. So I knew right away she was something special and very soon over the next years when we really fell in love and knew this is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. Tell us the lesson you learned when you traded in your truck for a sports car. Ah, everyone's got a red sports car in their life, right? That fancy shiny thing. Look at it. And this is a great pic. Before this picture I was a truck guy and took the girls mudding and worked and hustled. No matter when we showed up at the concert I was the guy that would work our butts to the front row and at the party and did not lean against the wall. I got out and danced. Then I get this red sports car. As you can see what do I start doing, I start leaning against that red sports car and I think I'm so cool with my red sports car. Well, the girls thought that was cute for about one day and they were like, you really got pretty boring, Matthew. What happened to the hustler? Now you just lean against that red sports car. Well, I noticed this was a block in my flow and really getting in the way of my success and fun, I traded that red sports car back in for my truck. The next day when I got my truck back I was back. A man who knows himself. I was letting that car do the work for me. No. Don't do that. The three of us here in the studio have gotten to know you over the years and we got to say, what you see is what you it doesn't matter after -- even after the academy award, all the accolades, how do you stay grounded and I know that we'll find out more of that reading your book. Great question. I mean it's daily work, daily maintenance. I think -- I think I have my values in pretty good order. You know, if I get lost a little bit, I do what I've done with this book, I go away, I spend some time with me and try to get my head and heart communicating clearly because as we all know they don't always communicate clearly. Try to keep my ego in check but also try to keep it healthy. Having three kids and a wonderful wife helps quite a lot. Those are the things that really matter like when I say the only thing I ever wanted to be was a father, what's the greatest legacy I want to leave? My children. So, you know, between that and when I do go to work or get an accolade or a trophy or an applause, I always try to remember that it's because I stayed in process at the time of what I was doing. I'll tell this great story, "Dallas buyers club" I win best actor. They give me a trophy. My kids come to me and say what did you get the trophy for. Do you remember a year and a half ago when you said, pop, you look like a giraffe and you get up and I'd be gone and I'd put you to bed. Yeah, well, remember when pop was leaving the work I was doing on those days, now a year and a half later, my peers came and gave me a trophy for it and deemed it excellent so you can do things today that will pay you back tomorrow and that in a nutshell is sort of a lot of what's behind "Greenlights." It's about investing in our own future, being kind to our future selves. That's a beautiful story. An absolute beautiful story. Delayed gratification? That's right. Amen, my brother. Amen all the way and never enough time, Matthew. Our love to you and that beautiful family of yours. I know we'll have more with you going to talk about your career, how that iconic line, come on, All right, all right, all right. Yeah, came to be. Three times. His book, "Greenlights," you got to pick it up comes out tomorrow.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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