By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
Kay McConaughey, the 80-year-old mother of film star Matthew McConaughey, spoke at the Kinsloe House Wednesday about her recent part in a film, her sons, her tempestuous life, and her book.
Down-to-earth, petite and frank, she didn’t shy away from any topic, even when one woman asked if her son’s marriage was going to work.
Yes, she said firmly, adding that Matthew had waited so long and found the “perfect” girl for him.
“I’ve never seen two people connect like they did, and I just marvel at how well they get along,” she said. “I can’t imagine them not making this work because they’re so suited for each other. They have great respect for each other.”
The couple has two children now, and a third on the way, she said. “I think they’re settled in.”
KMac, as she likes to be known, has three grown sons, with 16 years separating her oldest son Mike from her youngest son Matthew. Mike owns a pipe company in Midland, and Patrick works for Mike and lives in Houston. Matthew got into acting when a movie scout saw him at the University of Texas where he was studying law, and asked him to audition for “Dazed and Confused,” a movie about stoners in Austin. His small part became larger when he went off-script. He was noticed by movie critics Siskell and Ebert, then began picking up more parts in other movies.
He’s now made 40 movies and is in preparation for another movie about a man with AIDS. He had to lose 40 pounds for the part, KMac said. “He doesn’t even look like himself,” she said.
KMac was accompanied to Corsicana by her partner C.J. Carlig, whom she met in 1989 at a University of Kentucky reunion after her husband died. That was in 1989. The two now live in Sun City outside of Georgetown.
For her part in her first, and possibly only movie, KMac said she was asked to audition by Rick Linkletter, the director.
“He said ‘you gotta audition,’ and I said ‘OK, we’ll do it the right way,’” KMac said. “After I did it, he said ‘you nailed it.’”
She was an extra in the movie “Bernie” about a funeral director who kills the wealthy elderly woman with whom he’s been keeping company, then puts her body in her own freezer for nine months while he goes around spending her millions in Carthage, Texas. KMac plays a townswoman sympathetic to the killer.
“I had a small part but I kept ad libbing,” KMac said. “I just kept throwing stuff in because I was on a roll.”
In one cafe scene filmed in Austin, she shares the screen with her famous son.
“He never gave me any advice or anything. He didn’t try to correct me,” she said. “Most of the conversation at the cafe I’m just ad libbing,” she said. “Matthew, it didn’t seem to bother him. He’d just answer whatever I was saying.”
Being in the movie was enjoyable, she said.
“C.J. told Matthew ‘You need to get your mom an agent,’ and I said ‘Maybe I can use your agent,’ and he said ‘No mom, that’s not going to work.’ I don’t know if there’s that many parts for an 80-year-old woman, so that may be the only picture I make, but it was certainly a lot of fun to do.”
She’s a woman who knows her own mind, and her book is certainly a testament to how forceful she can be. Filled with anecdotes about her family, her own wicked sense of humor, and advice about living life to its fullest, “I Amaze Myself,” sold well on Wednesday, with KMac autographing each copy.
KMac answered questions from the audience with just as much frankness, including her impressions of the famous people on the movie — her son, Jack Black, who played the title role, and Shirley MacLaine, who played the murder victim.
“Of course I can tell you about Matthew. What you see is what you get,” she said. “Jack Black is just downright funny. He’s just hilarious. He just has this wit about him that’s unbelievable.”
About Shirley MacLaine, she told a story about MacLaine trying to steal her seat at an awards ceremony in Dallas. Refusing to be put off, KMac kept insisting until MacLaine got up and surrendered the seat in a huff.
“We don’t have a real good relationship,” KMac said, laughing. “She doesn’t like me, and I’m not crazy about her, either. She’s just ornery. She was perfect for the part.”
The movie “Bernie” was a small-budget film made for about $5 million. It wasn’t widely distributed in cinemas, although it’s available now on videotape at Blockbuster, at Walmart, and in Red Boxes. KMac seemed surprised that it had been shown outside of Texas. Audience members volunteered the information that they’d bought copies in New Mexico, that a daughter had seen it on the big screen in Los Angeles, and that another’s sister saw it in Colorado.
“It was in an actual movie theater?” she asked. “I’m real pleased about that. Golly, look at all the royalties I’m going to get.”
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com