Matthew McConaughey delivers a poetic speech in accepting New Orleans Film Society's 2015 Celluloid Hero Award
On Saturday, March 28th, the New Orleans Film Society honored Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey as the organization’s 2015 Celluloid Hero. McConaughey is in New Orleans shooting The Free State of Jones, a Civil War era drama directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games). McConaughey offered a poetic homage to New Orleans and Louisiana in his acceptance speech (read the full transcript below). After the awards presentation, Director Gary Ross took the stage and announced that McConaughey would be offering his favorite sneakers up for auction. As the bidding progressed, more was added to the package: his custom-made Dolce & Gabbana jacket, an extra role on The Free State of Jones, lunch with the crew, and a personal drive to set with Ross. The bidding was fierce and ultimately, Sean Cummings took home this very special package.
The event attracted incredible national and local attention. Check out the links below to view press coverage. To see an album of photos from the event, visit our Facebook page.
Full Transcript of Matthew McConaughey’s Acceptance Speech
“Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks to the Costellos for the house. And to the New Orleans Film Society. Yeah: five of the last ten films…or pictures…four films and True Detective the television series have been here in New Orleans. And … um … I know my wife’s back over here and we have three children and if we get a film that’s set in New Orleans, that’s gonna shoot in New Orleans, we get very excited. We really do. We absolutely love it here. We’ve rented many different homes here in many different parts of the city. Loved every one of them. And I used to come here for the blessing of the fleets with my father and we used to go to his mother’s house every year, so this was always a summer destination for us. And you know I’m from Texas … raised in Longview just west of Shreveport so a little bit of that moss in the trees leaks over the border westward over there, so we have it in our blood. My father’s actually born in Jackson, Mississippi, and my mom in New Jersey, but they spent a lot of time here and lived here actually for a long time. On my father’s side…my mother had the Maintenance School down in Morgan City. So we love coming here.
Thank you for this award tonight. I hope I get to make many more films here. I was thinking about what I’d say up here tonight and over the years in my time spent here I’ve kind of kept a diary and write certain things down about what I think about New Orleans in particular. And sometimes those definitions and these definitions bleed over into Louisiana as a whole. You separate the differences as you wish as I tell you about them.
But first of all, being in my position as a celebrity. I live in Austin, Texas. One of the great things I love about Austin, Texas, is that it has a real identity, alright? When I’m walking around Austin, Texas, people say like, ‘Cool to see you, McConaughey’ or they’ll say the first half of a Dazed and Confused line. They’ll say something like ‘That’s what I love about those high school girls’ and as I pass by, I’ll go ‘I get older and they stay the same age.’ And then that’s kinda it. Nobody needs proof. No one needs to stop and get a picture and say ‘no one’s gonna believe me.’ That’s the same thing that happens here. We live … I’m not gonna say the exact address, but where we live here … it’s a very public place up near Audubon Park and hundreds of people come by our house daily. They know it’s us. Word’s spread. But it is now – and has been over the years – when people see me here or see my wife here, you know what they always say? ‘Good to see you here in our beautiful Crescent City.’ They don’t need proof. They don’t come up and say ‘I gotta get a picture, my cousin’s not going to believe me.’ No. It’s good to see you here. In OUR beautiful city.
So. I’m gonna read a few things. About New Orleans and about Louisiana. And we’ll see what you think, ‘cause this is what I think.
First of all: what a big beautiful mess. It is. Cheers to that. I said this a few years ago. Someone said ‘what’s New Orleans like’ and I said ‘man, New Orleans is like a giant flashing yellow light.’ Proceed with caution. But proceed!
It is not an overly ambitious place, and this I mean complimentary. It has a great identity and therefore doesn’t look outside itself for intrigue, evolution, or labels of progress. People here are proud of their home. You’re proud of your Crescent City. You know your flavor. It is your very own. And if people want to come and taste it with you, you welcome them with open arms but you do not solicit.
The hours trickle by here. Tuesday and Saturday are more similar here than any place I’ve ever been. The seasons slide into one another without any status quo.
Yes, it is the Big Easy: home of the shortest hangover on the planet. Where a libation can greet you on Monday morning with the same smile it did on Saturday night. Ok.
Home of the front porch. I don’t know if y’all recognize this. Home of the front porch. Alright, not the back porch. Everyone everywhere else has back porches, right? The back porch is something different. The front porch is an engineering feat that lends to someone’s sense of community ‘round here. And fellowship. Private property and lines of demarcation all lend across borders here. You relax facing the street. You face your neighbors, you do not retreat into the seclusion and privacy of your backyard. No, you engage with the goings-on of the world that is in front of you. Great engineering feat you’ve pulled off here. It really is.
What’s my alarm here? My alarm here is church bells, sirens, and a slow moving $8 an hour carpenter nailing window-panes two doors down. That’s a good alarm.
You do not honk your horn in a traffic jam here. You do not sweat the misdemeanors. And since everybody’s getting away with something anyway, the rest of us just want to be on the side of who’s getting away with it, and if you can get away with it, good for you. You love to gamble. Rules are made to be broken. But do not preach about abiding. And hey, if you don’t get away with it, you’re probably going to let him slide anyway.
Where else do the dead rest eye-to-eye with the living? New Orleans is a right brain city. Do not come to town wearing your morals on your sleeve unless you want to get your arm burned. Yes, it’s oil and vinegar, but somehow they mix: the poverty, the humidity, they both gracefully suppress all the rationale. And if you’re crossing a one-way street, it is best to look both ways.
Mother Nature rules around here, now y’all know that. The natural law is queen who reigns supreme. She’s a science to the animals, yet she’s an overbearing and inconsiderate bitch to us bipedal humans. But here you forgive her, and you forgive her quickly. And you have to. ‘Cause you know that any disdain for her wrath is gonna reap more wrath, more bad luck, more voodoo and more karma. So you roll with it. Or actually you meander, rather. Slowly forward, taking it in stride, never sweating the details. See the art is in the overgrowth here. Mother Nature wears the crown around here. Her royalty rules. And unlike in England, she has both influence AND power. And like the most authentic European cities, you guys don’t use vacuum cleaners to give structure to anything. You use brooms! And rakes! To manicure. ‘Cause everything here lends its soft edges. Where it falls is often where it lays. The swerve around the pothole; the duck beneath the branch; the poverty; the murder rate: all of it just how it is and how it turned out to be. Just like a good gumbo, the medley is in the mix. Thank you, New Orleans, and thank you, Louisiana. Cheers.
That’s what I got.”