Oscar award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is known for his slow Texas drawl. So fans who follow the star on social media were surprised to see a recent video on Instagram in which he speaks entirely in Spanish. The video shows the actor encouraging his followers to wear a mask, joining Mexican professional boxer Canelo Álvarez to recite one of McConaughey’s signature slogans “solo sigue viviendo” (just keep livin’).
While the content of the video was very on-brand, it raised a lot of questions for fans. Can Matthew McConaughey really speak Spanish, or did he learn specific phrases for the video?
Matthew McConaughey does speak Spanish and he uses any opportunity he can find to practice it. Though some people assume he speaks Spanish with his wife, Latina model Camila Alves McConaughey, she is actually Brazilian American. Her first language is Portugese, the national language of Brazil.
However, McConaughey does have opportunities to practice with famous friends, like Mexican boxer Canelo, and his sister-in-law, who is Mexican American and speaks fluent Spanish. His brother speaks Spanish regularly with his wife and many of his childhood friends speak Spanish fluently. He’s been to Spain and says he finds many situations in which Spanish comes in handy in California, where he lives.
McConaughey picked up Spanish in his childhood hometown, Uvalde, Texas, which is only about 80 miles from the border of Mexico and the U.S.A. Many of his friends were Mexican and spoke Spanish as a first or second language.
McConaughey learned the language casually so he could better communicate with his friends’ families when attending events at their homes. He has said that something he loves about Spanish culture is the chance to “get together with my friends, eat and talk all night long. That’s very Latin and it’s cool.”
In an interview, McConaughey said that his Spanish isn’t perfect, but that it’s still very easy for him to communicate. Sometimes, he struggles to translate common English phrases into Spanish in his head, so he has to find unique ways to say things. However, he feels that is an asset. McConaughey said,
It is harder, but I find a way to say it, maybe in a more poetic way. I end up saying something really nice and creative.
He chooses his words carefully and told the Study in Spain program that he feels very successful communicating with native speakers. While the actor does not find himself dreaming in Spanish, he can joke easily in the language and even reads books in Spanish from time to time.
Matthew McConaughey may be better known for his Southern U.S. accent, but he speaks Spanish fluently. Having grown up very close to the Mexican border, he can communicate with any Spanish speaker. He goes beyond the basics, even using the language to tell jokes.
Living in California, he finds many opportunities to practice Spanish with his friends and loved ones, including his brother and sister-in-law. And thanks to social media, he’s able to use his love of the language to spread awareness for causes he cares about.
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