Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves: A Love Story

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Greenlights" by Matthew McConaughey. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How did Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves meet? How did Matthew McConaughey know that they were right for each other?

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves met at the Hyde Club on Sunset Boulevard. They had an immediate connection and began spending all of their time together.

Read more about Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves below.

Meeting Camila

It was after this greenlight of surrender that the right woman showed up. It happened in 2006 at the Hyde Club on Sunset Boulevard. Matthew saw her across the room as he was making margaritas for his friends. She seemed impossibly attractive to him, like a dream come to life. He offered to make a margarita for her, and she accepted. She said her name was Camila, and they talked all night.

She politely refused when Matthew invited her to his house. But when he walked her to her car, they found it had been towed, so she agreed to go to his house for a single drink with him and his friends. At 3:30 a.m., when Matthew’s chauffeur wasn’t available (because Matthew had made it that way) and calls to three different cab companies yielded no ride (again because of Matthew’s intervention), Camila agreed to spend the night in the guest bedroom. 

The next morning, he found her in the kitchen, elegantly holding the floor and enjoying the company of his housekeeper and two of his buddies as if they were all old friends. When he later drove her an hour away to the lot where her car had been towed, they found they enjoyed long stretches of comfortable silence together, just soaking up each other’s company. When he dropped her off, she invited him to call her.

To Matthew, it felt as if the mermaid that he’d glimpsed in the Amazon ten years earlier had somehow swum up from South America to find him. It was one of the biggest greenlights of his life.

A year into their relationship, Matthew invited Camila to live with him in Australia while he worked on the movie Fool’s Gold. While there, they spent six days living together in Papua New Guinea in a one-room treehouse near the jungle without electricity. One day during that adventure, he asked her what he would have to do to lose her, and she told him the way to lose her would simply be for him to change. This was another greenlight.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves Start a Family

Once back from Australia, Matthew and Camila started a new life together in earnest by leaving his home in Hollywood Hills and moving into his RV, “the Canoe,” in the Malibu Beach RV park. They also started trying to get pregnant.

Several months later, Matthew came home one evening to find that they had succeeded. Camila showed him ultrasound photos of their unborn child, and they cried tears of joy together. For Matthew, becoming a father was the culmination and validation of the core values that his family had impressed into him from earliest childhood. It was the ultimate affirmation of the transition to manhood that he had earned from his father. It was another greenlight.

When Camila was six months pregnant, Matthew realized that he needed to focus even more on this new center of his life. So he decided to shut down other obligations—including a film production company and a record label that he had created—and devote more attention to his family, his j.k. livin foundation, and his acting. 

Becoming a Father

Matthew’s and Camila’s baby boy was born on July 7, 2008, at 6:22 p.m. They gave careful thought to choosing a name. The baby’s birth time carried deep symbolic resonance. Matthew’s favorite Bible verse, which he had relied on for decades as a source of spiritual guidance, was Matthew 6:22: “If thine eye be single, thy whole body will be full of light.” With this in mind, Matthew and Camila named their first child Levi—the biblical Matthew’s other name in the Bible. The birth of and naming of Matthew’s and Camila’s first child was a greenlight.

Moving to Texas

Shortly after the birth of Levi, Matthew and Camila traveled briefly to Texas because of a McConaughey family emergency. They rented a house in Kay’s retirement community, where Matthew came to love the elderly residents with their lack of pretension and sense of humor. 

One evening after he and Camila had played bingo with their new friends, they were stopped at a red light, and Camila told Matthew that she knew he wanted to move back to Texas. And indeed he did. He had come to yearn for the more earthy and authentic life of his home state, away from the superficial glitz of Hollywood. He also wanted to be nearer to Kay, who was now in her late seventies. Moreover, he wanted to raise his family there.

When he told Camila that she was right, she took a deep breath, grinned, called him a son of a bitch, and agreed to do it. Then the red light they were stopped at turned green.

They bought a home and nine acres on the edge of Austin—plenty of room to raise a family and even play the bongos if you wanted. As they settled in, Matthew’s recent family emergency, combined with his new fatherhood, made him even more reflective about his life and its meaning in the face of mortality. He realized that the acting roles coming his way weren’t satisfying him anymore. Strangely, the characters he was creating onscreen were less vibrant and deep than his real life, which was increasingly passionate and vital. As an actor, he wanted to tell stories that challenged and engaged him on that same level of vitality.

He knew it was time for yet another change in his career, some kind of authentic sacrifice—especially since Camila was pregnant again.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves: A Love Story

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Matthew McConaughey's "Greenlights" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Greenlights summary:

  • How "greenlights" help you confirm if you're on the right path
  • How McConaughey switched college choices because of family finances
  • Why family is at the center of everything for McConaughey, no matter what's happening in his career

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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