Aspiring filmmakers at the University of Texas at Austin have the chance to learn from a real Hollywood star. Matthew McConaughey started teaching his Script to Screen class as a visiting instructor in 2015 and officially joined the faculty at his alma mater in fall 2019.
“We take students chronologically from the first script, all the way through the final product that you see in the theater, and all the changes that happen along the way,” McConaughey, 50, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “And each semester of class is based on one film I’ve done. We start with the original script, the second script, third script, fourth script, fifth, shooting script, first assembly, and then the final picture they see. So very different from where it started.”
McConaughey says his students “love hearing [about] Dazed and Confused” and “recently there’s a large of wave of interest in Interstellar.” But the father of three doesn’t always like to rewatch his own work.
“I usually keep scrolling when I cross a movie of mine,” he says. “As much as I’ve enjoyed a lot of the movies I’ve made, I enjoy the making of them more than the actual watching them. The daily building and construction is my favorite part. But I am happy to say that I smile at most of them.”
With decades of movie-making experience under his belt, McConaughey “kind of thought it was obvious” what he was teaching in his class. “But all the students and even film professors were like, ‘That’s really interesting, and that would be valuable,’ ” he says.
The Beach Bum star’s class also “leans over into life lessons that are outside of film,” McConaughey says, such as “how and when to take risks and don’t be afraid to fail.”
“They all feel like they should know what they want to do,” McConaughey continues. “I try to tell them, ‘Don’t worry. You don’t have to know what you want to do. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and an opportunity will arise, or you’ll follow on the path that you’re studying right now. But don’t feel the pressure to know exactly what you want and have to do.’ ”
For more on Matthew McConaughey, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
The Oscar winner also learned something about himself by teaching college students about filmmaking. “I knew more than I thought I did,” McConaughey says. “Because it seems like four years ago, I was in class, but I’m mistaken. It was not four years ago. It was a lot longer than that. So that I gathered a lot more experience than I actually realized.”
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