Awards show speeches are a high wire act few can dangle on. The can be too self-congratulatory (See: Tom Hiddleston), too condescending (Joaquin Phoenix), too out-of-touch (George Clooney), too esoteric (Frances McDormand), and too drunk (Hasselhoff).
The goal is to be inspiring, but not preachy. Honored, yet indifferent. Authentic, yet relatable. Surprised, but poised. Brief, but impactful.
On March 2, 2014, Matthew McConaughey put on a masterclass in Award show speeches when accepting his first Oscar for his depiction of AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in the biographical drama Dallas Buyers Club.
The 3-minute study in articulation has amassed over 23 million views through the Oscars channel, eclipsing Heath Ledger’s 2009 Best Supporting Actor speech given by his parents after his death.
We spoke with the Greenlights author about the preparation that went into those seminal words, and as it turns out, not much.
“People say, ‘Did you write that speech out before?’ I’m like, ‘Hell no I didn’t write that speech out before.’ For me, I’m too superstitious. That would’ve been a coup de grâce to write your speech out before you’ve even won. You’re going to lose, bro.
…I felt the moment. Didn’t care about how long I was up there. Wasn’t thinking about whether they’re going to play me off if i go too long. I was going to speak from my heart here and tell my truth.
All self-expression is not art, but all art is self-expression…I was not thinking of the result, I was thinking about the process. I was going, ‘Let me be as authentic as I can be.’ And hey, if that catches fire and people see themselves in that, then great. But I’m not doing it for you, or someone else.
The more I’ve stuck to the process, the more results I’m getting…The successes I’ve had were not because I was trying to say, ‘I want this to be a unanimous success’ or ‘I want this to be really scaled out.’ No. I’m doing this for me. Even if I’m the only one that loves it.”
Check out our entire interview with Matthew McConaughey below and go by his #1 best-selling memoir Greenlights to guarantee a spot in heaven.