The Truth About Matthew McConaughey's Marriage

Celebrity marriages are a lot harder than you think; compound all the stuff normal marriages deal with — finances, children, mothers-in-law who decide to quarantine with you — and add constant public scrutiny and millions of adoring fans, and you see why most Hollywood nuptials last about a hockey season. So the few that stand the test of time are truly fascinating. There's no real common thread between the Ice-Ts and Cocos and the Kurt Russells and Goldie Hawns, but sometimes delving deep into their backstories — and how they've managed since — can shed some light on why they've succeeded.

Such is the case with Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila Alves, who met all the way back in 2006 and have been together ever since (via People). Sure, they took nearly six years to get hitched, and had two kids before he'd even proposed, but it just goes to show that long-term love doesn't have a script it needs to follow. And while their road has been unusual, their story, like so many Hollywood "romances" that barely last until sunrise, begins in a club on the Sunset Strip...

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Avles met at a club in Hollywood

Hollywood in the pre-social media era was a very different place, where celebrities weren't living in constant fear of camera phones. This is why the meeting of Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves would have been hard to come by these days; it started with the actor, Lance Armstrong, and some other celeb pals making margaritas, out in the open, at Hyde on the Sunset Strip in 2006.

According to an interview with People, McConaughey spotted Alves in the club and said to his crew, "What is that?" Not exactly poetry, but it did inspire McConaughey to get up and invite Alves's group to have drinks with him. She, however, remembers it differently. "I did not know who he was," she told Access (via People). "At the time he had a really long beard, and he had this rasta hat. He was all covered up, and I didn't really realize who he was." 

It wasn't until Lance Armstrong came over that Alves realized who she was talking to. Upon figuring it out, she immediately decided she needed to get across the room away from them. 

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves went home together the night they met

Ok, so Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves' meeting isn't exactly the stuff of dreamy Hollywood love stories. But it does get better, kinda. As happens in clubland, at the end of the night, Alves revealed she didn't have a car, and McConaughey conveniently had a "guest room" she could stay in, so he invited her back to his place. Apparently, that line works when you've got Dazed and Confused under your belt.

But Alves really did just want a place to crash, and she spent the night in the actor's guest room in the Hollywood Hills alone. McConaughey admitted to Howard Stern he definitely tried to sneak into her room a couple of times, but was rebuffed on both attempts. He didn't see Alves again until the next morning, when he woke up to find her having breakfast with his friends and housekeeper, "holding they'd been buddies for 10 years." This was, as he said, the moment he realized Alves was someone different, and he drove her 45 minutes back to her car.

Matthew McConaughey made Camila Alves dinner on their first official date

Celebrity dating must be difficult, we'd imagine, as you add the awkwardness of spending time with someone you want to impress with the constant threat of paparazzi, with literally everyone in the restaurant watching to see how your date is going. So it would make sense that rather than take his Brazilian model date to Spago or Nobu, Matthew McConaughey instead opted to make her dinner at home, according to E! News.

But it wasn't just a fear of paparazzi or gawking fans that caused McConaughey to have their first date at Chez McConaughey. Cooking at home, he later dished to Collider, is his ideal date. "I'm cooking it. My date's cooking it. And we're trying to make it last as long as possible," he explained. "Maybe a trip down to the store for something fresh on the meat side, but other than that, we want to basically...clean out the fridge." Ah, the benefits of being the sexiest man alive, when you can literally invite a woman over, open the fridge, and be like "what do you wanna make," and it somehow doesn't become a bad date story.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves designed their Malibu home together

Though the Hollywood Hills house where Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves had their first couple of dates was probably a pretty nice place, it wasn't the Oscar winner's idea of the home he wanted with his partner. In an interview with Esquire, McConaughey admitted his abode in the hills was "super," and that he could have moved Alves in with no objection. But it didn't quite feel right. "I found the woman I wanna do it with, the woman I wanna make a family with," he revealed. "Hopefully live our life out together. She needs to have 50 percent of that." 

The result was a custom-built four-bedroom, three-bathroom home on just over an acre in Malibu's Point Dume. According to Dirt, the couple gave the property a massive remodel after it was purchased in 2007. At the time, the home cost just over $10 million. They sold it to movie producer Phil Lord in August 2020 for a reported $14.8 million.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves had two children before they got married

During the so-called "golden age of Hollywood," a celebrity couple having a child out of wedlock would have been a major scandal. Thankfully times have changed, and couples like Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves can have multiple kids without getting married; they welcomed their second child, Vida McConaughey, in January 2010 (via E! News). This was in addition to their then 17-month-old, Levi McConaughey. 

Despite the two children, however, in 2010, neither McConaughey or Alves had much intention of tying the knot. In 2009, after already having Levi, McConaughey rhetorically asked Collider, "Am I getting married in the future? Not today. Honestly, not today. I don't have any plans for it." Though he did say the institution could be "very, very healthy." Alves, apparently, was on the same page. In an interview with Access (via People), she said, "I was never the girl that grew up saying I want to get married. I actually told my parents to not expect me to get married."

Matthew McConaughey proposed to Camila Alves on Christmas

Of course, people's minds change, and as Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves matured and added to their family, so too did their plans for marriage evolve. At least, Camila's did. "It took her going, 'C'mon, Big Boy, Mr. Easygoing-We'll-Get-to-It-When-We-Get-to-It. Either s**t or get off the pot," McConaughey told GQ in 2014 of his ultimate decision to propose. The couple talked about marriage, discussed it with friends who'd been divorced and friends who'd married for years, and ultimately decided after two kids and six years together, it was the right time to tie the knot.

The proposal was nothing spectacular, aside from the fact that McConaughey announced it on his WhoSay page, a platform you'd likely forgotten about since you read about McConaughey's engagement the first time, in 2011. The proposal took place on Christmas Day, as the actor simply posted, "Just asked Camila to marry me, Merry Christmas." Maybe not so merry for hopeful fans around the world who thought they might still have a chance. But, presumably, merry for the couple.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves' wedding was three days long

By celebrity wedding standards, Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves' wedding wasn't an overblown affair. Aside from being on the cover of People, of course. Other than that, it was your standard Texas home wedding with 120 guests, stretched over three days of what People described as "summer fun" in June of 2012. The ceremony took place on McConaughey's sprawling Austin estate, where he'd set up tents for guests to escape the Texas heat.

Among the celebs in attendance were Reese Witherspoon, Kenny Chesney, and Woody Harrelson. But perhaps the most important guests were the pair's children: Levi McConaughey, who was almost 4, and Vida McConaughey, who was 2 and a half. They were ring bearer and flower girl, respectively, and part of a full catholic ceremony. Alves, the proud mother and bride, shared, "Somehow they both seem to understand what we are doing on a spiritual level." 

Matthew McConaughey is "selfishly faithful" to Camila Alves

The temptation that comes with being the sexiest man alive — or at least the sexiest man alive in 2005 – must be undeniably strong, but unlike many a Hollywood marriage that has fallen apart because of the perks of celebrity, Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves have held strong. And his ability to stay faithful is undoubtedly a big reason why.

In an interview with GQ, McConaughey discussed his faith and how he still brings his family to church every Sunday. It showed the family side of the actor that's often left out of the Magic Mike mystique. But perhaps his most-telling interview on his prioritization of family came from an unexpected source: an interview with Playboy in 2016. In a 2019 feature on the couple, E! News cited the interview, quoting McConaughey as saying, "I have been very faithful with my wife, very selfishly. I like being under her spell. I don't want to break that spell."

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves now have three kids

In addition to Levi and Vida McConaughey, Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves added a third child to their family after they were married in 2012. In December of that year, they welcomed their son, Livingston McConaughey, again announcing it on Who Say (who at that point probably should have just re-named the platform McConaughey Say). If you've ever heard the actor shout out to Mr. Stone during an acceptance speech, according to Yahoo!, this is who he's talking about: it's the nickname McConaughey uses for Livingston.

All told, it seems McConaughey is happy as a family man, as the solid home life has allowed him to grow professionally. He told GQ that home life had was going swimmingly, and that "the more secure I feel at home, the more I feel like I'm able to fly." Though in context, this sounds like a metaphor for allowing his career to take off. But it's McConaughey, so it could just as easily mean he's used it as an excuse to take up base jumping.

The secrets to Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves's long marriage are actually pretty simple

Holding a marriage together for over a decade in Hollywood is a more impressive feat than landing a star on the Walk of Fame (which Matthew McConaughey has also done), so how he and Camila Alves have stayed together so long is the source of great curiosity. However, the couple seems as curious as anyone, as Alves quipped to Us Weekly, "If you have the answer please share with me because I'm also trying to figure it out."

Dropping the self-deprecation for a moment, Alves revealed that their formula isn't anything all that groundbreaking. "We cook together," she shared. "Even if I'm running late from work I say, 'We're having a late dinner.'" Their other secret: staycations. Alves disclosed the couple will often abscond to a hotel near their home for some quiet and alone time. "Just the fact that you don't have to wake up to kids screaming for help with something — it already does something to a mom's brain," she added.

Camila Alves moved the family to Thailand when Matthew McConaughey filmed Gold

Part of the inherent strain on movie star marriages are the extended trips away for on-location shoots. Even with three children in tow, however, Camila Alves wasn't about to let Matthew McConaughey's role as Kenny Wells in Gold keep the family apart. So when he went to Thailand to film, she came along, as did Vida, Livingston, and Levi. To hear McConaughey tell it, having them there made all the difference. "I have a wife that thankfully tells me when I go to work, 'Don't look in the rearview mirror. Go do your work, get obsessed with that. I got it. I got your back.' So it makes the whole process so much more enjoyable," he told Entertainment Tonight. 

McConaughey added that the whole experience was especially enjoyable for his kids, as he was trying to gain 50 pounds for the movie and was down to eat junk food every night of the week. They nicknamed their father "Captain Fun," because he pretty much said yes to everything, bringing a little bit of the freewheeling Kenny Wells character home with him every night.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves struggled during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns really put a crimp in those paparazzi-fueled "stars are just like us" photo exposes that show riveting stuff like Betty White out buying lotto tickets. 

But the "just like us" adage really did hold true in early 2020, when coupled-up celebs faced the same, cooped-up challenges as everyone else. According to People, Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves quarantined with their three kids and his 88-year-old mother, which left precious little alone time. "Sometimes you go through the day and you got the kids' remote schooling, you get everyone set up, you're doing meals and running around... it'll be at 9:30 at night or 10 o'clock when we actually look at each other and go, 'Oh, hi, how are you?'" McConaughey said on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show. 

However, McConaughey also credited his wife with creating some structure around the house, and having time where the kids weren't allowed to knock on their door. Still, he revealed that the experience allowed him to get to know his house and pets better, and joked that he couldn't keep up with his octogenarian mother.

Matthew McConaughey wants eight more kids, but Camila Alves is not onboard

Three kids might seem like a lot, even if you do live on a massive Texas estate and make movie star money. But if you're Matthew McConaughey, that doesn't necessarily mark the end of the breeding line. During an appearance on a panel at HISTORYTalks: Leadership and Legacy in March 2020, McConaughey announced he'd like to have eight more kids (via Today). Of course, this is an aspiration that's a lot easier when you're not the one carrying eight more babies in your womb. And he quickly added, "My wife's not on the same page."

For her part, Camila Alves hasn't explicitly said she's not down to add another eight spots to the kid count, but she definitely sees the process differently. "Every time I had a baby I was like, 'I have to do this as a business,'" she told E! News. "And then I'll get pregnant again and I'll forget about it. Then on my third one I said I'm not getting pregnant again. I'm doing this as a business." Given the couple hasn't had a child since 2012, we might assume any new business is closed for now.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves run the Just Keep Livin' Foundation

In addition to gracing the cover of People and scores of other celebrity mags, Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves also found themselves fronting Town & Country's philanthropy issue in 2020. The honor was a result of their work with the Just Keep Livin' Foundation, an organization the couple founded in 2008 to help at-risk teens in Los Angeles-area schools (via Southern Living). It's now spread to six states and Washington, D.C., and employs 84 teachers who serve over 3,000 students.

The program works with students four hours per week, with nutrition, exercise, yoga, and community service components. And, according to McConaughey, it's helped turn around lives in a positive manner. "We end up getting really exceptional kids... [who] were on the wrong path and do complete turnarounds," he told Town & Country. "They'll become valedictorian, get a scholarship, graduate, and land a great job." 

In addition to their work with the foundation, McConaughey and Alves also helped out during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering masks to hospitals in remote parts of Texas and hosting virtual bingo games.