Matthew McConaughey, wife Camila explain real reason behind move from Malibu to Texas

Actor Matthew Mcconaughey walks a football field wearing a cowboy hat and a t-shirt that says culture
Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila Alves, opened up about the Oscar winner's decision to leave California in 2014 to return to his home state of Texas. (LM Otero / Associated Press)

Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey shared the real reason he moved from California to rival Texas in 2014: a family crisis.

The "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Magic Mike" star relocated his wife and three kids from Malibu to the Lone Star State in 2014 and this week opened up about the decision in a profile in Southern Living. They shed light on what the magazine described as McConaughey's "home field advantage" and what others might call a "Texodus."

Read more: Why do California, Texas differ so much? Religion, priorities of white minority play huge roles, poll shows

"Ritual came back," the 54-year old said, "whether that was Sunday church, sports, dinner together as a family every night, or staying up after that telling stories in the kitchen, sitting at the island pouring drinks and nibbling while retelling them all in different ways than we told them before."

The Texas native ardently believes in the theory — to the degree that he wants to run studies on it — that the closer we get to the site of our conception (not birthplace but where we are physically conceived), the more "wholly ourselves" we become, hooking a person to their "original essence." (Does that not sound like the most L.A. thing you heard today?)

McConaughey appears to be patient zero for testing the theory while living in the middle of the United States. The actor was interviewed about two miles from Fort Davis, Texas, where his parents, Kay and Jim McConaughey, conceived him in early 1969. And life is good, the creativity is flowing and even his "metabolism flies," he said.

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"We were living a happy life in Malibu,” his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, said in the joint interview. "We had a beautiful house that we’d built together and put a lot of love and care into. We were raising our kids there. I was growing everything in the yard. I had bees making honey.”

However, the McConaughey family faced a crisis that prompted them to move to Austin to help his mom — who now lives with them — and two brothers for several weeks. (Although they did not disclose the time or nature of the crisis, the couple bought a 10,800-square-foot mansion in the Austin area in 2012 and appeared to make the move permanent in 2020 when they sold their $15-million Malibu estate.)

Before they relocated, the "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" star had to convince his wife, a Brazil-born model and entrepreneur who had only lived there, in New York and Los Angeles. She didn't have the same connection to Texas at first but quickly noticed a change in her husband during their brief stay.

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“The gravity is very different in Texas," she said, explaining that McConaughey seemed lighter, gentler and freer. Noticing that change one day on a drive, she asked him if he wanted to move back. He immediately agreed. To that, she responded: "You son of a b—."

Despite her initial reaction, Alves McConaughey soon realized she was familiar with physical and cultural landscapes of the state because they echoed her own upbringing in the Minas Gerais countryside, where she grew up saying "Yes, ma’am" and "Yes, sir."

"It takes me right back to how I was raised," she said, adding, "In Texas, we were going to the church that we like to attend every Sunday. Sports became a stronger tradition for the kids..."

“Ritual!” McConaughey interjected, before getting into how ritual returned to their lives.

Read more: Camila Alves says Matthew McConaughey's laid-back stoner image is fake: He 'doesn't even smoke'

"Time slowed down," he added. "The clock was right, the body clock. And part of that is ritual; part of that is just the distance between places and the way people move. But it’s also the hospitality, the courtesy, the common sense, the lack of drama.”

Since moving, the "Mud" actor has become something of a mascot for his home state. According to Southern Living, he's in the stands cheering on the football team at his alma mater, University of Texas at Austin (where he also teaches a film course); teamed up with country legend George Strait on an anti-littering PSA; and briefly eyed a gubernatorial run in 2021. He also represented the state during a 2022 White House visit following the Uvalde elementary school shooting and narrated the 2022 documentary "Deep in the Heart." Now, he and Alves McConaughey are marketing their tequila brand, Pantalones, which they source across the border in Jalisco, Mexico.

Read more: Why many California exes are moving to Texas

Like the McConaugheys, more than 100,000 Californians moved to Texas in 2022, compared with around 40,000 who made the opposite move, according to U.S. census data analyzed by The Times in 2023. Incidentally, a recent poll showed that the people of California and the people of Texas — the two most populous states in the United States — do not differ nearly as much as their respective liberal and conservative governance, a poll conducted by YouGov for the Los Angeles Times of roughly 1,600 California and Texas residents found.

Alves McConaughey did seem to have one major quibble with life in Southern California, previously saying that she prefers living away from the spotlight.

"We lived in Malibu for many years and having the paparazzi outside our door every day — every single day — when that becomes your normal, you don’t realize how much that’s actually affecting the things you do until you actually leave and get out of it," she told Fox News Digital in 2022. "The kids get to have a private way of growing up. So from that perspective, it was very important."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.