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MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY (Ward Jansen) is one of Hollywood's most sought-after leading men and his films have grossed more than $1 billion at the box office. Most recently, he portrayed the owner of a male strip club in the dramedy Magic Mike, directed by Steven Soderbergh and co-starring Channing Tatum and Olivia Munn. The film, which closed the L.A. Film Festival, was an instant success at the box office. McConaughey also stars in the black comedy Killer Joe, directed by the legendary William Friedkin, and Jeff Nichols' Mud, with Michael Shannon and Reese Witherspoon.

Earlier this year McConaughey reteamed with director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) for the docudrama Bernie, opposite Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. Previously, he starred in The Lincoln Lawyer, adapted from the novels of bestselling author Michael Connelly.

McConaughey is a Texas native who, while attending the University of Texas in Austin, planned to be a lawyer. When he discovered the inspirational Og Mandino book The Greatest Salesman in the World before one of his final exams, he suddenly knew he had to change his major from law to film.

McConaughey began his acting career in 1991, appearing in student films and commercials in Texas and directing short films. It was a chance meeting in Austin with casting director and producer Don Phillips that introduced him to director Richard Linklater. The actor was then cast as Wooderson in the cult classic Dazed and Confused.

Since that time, McConaughey has appeared in more than 40 feature films. He's become a producer, director and philanthropist while sticking to his Texas roots and laid-back philosophy of "j.k. livin'" (the "j" is for "just" and the "k" is for "keep"), as Wooderson said in Dazed and Confused.

Over the years, McConaughey has portrayed an athlete, a police officer, a football coach and a lawyer, among other characters. He has worked with Hollywood greats such as Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Sandra Bullock and Al Pacino, to name a few.

McConaughey starred in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, opposite Michael Douglas and Jennifer Garner; Ben Stiller's wildly successful action-comedy Tropic Thunder, with Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black; the critically acclaimed drama We Are Marshall, the inspiring story of a small West Virginia town's struggle with devastating loss; comedic adventure Fool's Gold, opposite Kate Hudson, for director Andy Tennant; and drama Two for the Money, with Al Pacino.

For his role in the action-comedy Sahara, with Penelope Cruz and Steve Zahn, McConaughey earned a People's Choice Award. This was the first major motion picture produced by his production company, j.k. livin productions. Later they would also produce and release Surfer, Dude.

McConaughey starred in the popular romantic comedies Failure to Launch, with Sarah Jessica Parker, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, opposite Kate Hudson. Other film credits include the sci-fi adventure Reign of Fire, the ensemble drama Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, the thriller Frailty, Adam Shankman's hit romantic comedy The Wedding Planner, World War II action drama U-571, Ron Howard's Edtv, Steven Spielberg's Amistad, Robert Zemeckis' Contact, Joel Schumacher's critically acclaimed courtroom drama A Time to Kill, John Sayles' drama Lone Star, Disney's Angels in the Outfield, Richard Linklater's The Newton Boys and cult horror film The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with Renée Zellweger.

In addition to his film career, McConaughey also takes the time to give back. In 2008, he started the j.k. livin Foundation, which is dedicated to helping boys and girls transform into men and women through programs that teach the importance of good decision-making, health, education and active living.

The j.k. livin Foundation has partnered with Communities in Schools (CIS) in West Los Angeles to implement fitness and wellness programs in two large, urban high schools. CIS is the nation's largest nonprofit dropout prevention organization. Through the j.k. livin afterschool program, they give kids a healthy start in life and the promise of a healthy future.

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