Matthew McConaughey had a great role model in his dad.
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper airing Friday, the actor spoke about building on the lessons from his father and other stories from his new memoir, "Greenlights."
McConaughey said his father didn't blink when the future Oscar-winner told him he'd rather attend film school than law school, which had always been the plan.
His father just had some advice for him: Don't half-a** it.
"Not only did he approve that I could switch up my course pattern and not go to law school, but I could go to film school, but he gave me a kick in the backside and launched me out and basically said within 10 seconds of hearing the new news," McConaughey recalled to Cooper. "And he wasn't surprised, although I do believe he had a bit of excitement on the other end of the line that his son had chosen to go his own path."
"And then he goes, 'Well, if that's what you want to do, don't half-a*** it,'" he added. "And boy, I've carried that with me. And it's a good adage to have in your hip pocket kind of through a lot of things with your life."
McConaughey's father died suddenly in 1992 before the burgeoning actor would find fame for his role in the film "Dazed and Confused."
"My father had instilled a lot of values in me, but he was still alive. So subconsciously, we have a crutch that, 'Oh, if things get really tough, my dad had my back. He's going to catch me if I fall,'" he said. "He passed away, all of a sudden it's like, 'No, he's not there to catch you if you fall. So the things that he taught you, you better quit half-a**ing them and actually have the courage to enact them.'"
Now a father of three with wife Camila Alves, McConaughey said he's leaning on what he learned growing up.
"I'm trying to instill the same values that my father instilled in me, in different ways than he did with me," McConaughey said. "Trying to have a passionate love relationship with my wife, Camila, but also in different ways than he had it with my mother."
The "Dallas Buyers Club" has said his parents had an at times contentious relationship, divorcing and remarrying more than once.
"My mom and dad loved ... Their relationship was like the Pacific Ocean in the middle of a hurricane," he said. "I'd rather have a little bit more of a slow-moving river with some rapids, but not tidal waves like they really appreciated. And it's what they needed to communicate. I don't really need that, nor does Camila."
Things are calm in the McConaughey household these days, where his mother is living with them and his children are attending school at home just like other youngsters dealing with the current pandemic.
Cooper, a new father himself, asked McConaughey to share his insight on parenting.
When it comes to children, McConaguhey said, "it's so much more DNA than environment than I thought it was going to be."
"They are who they are, and we nudge them along, and we shepherd them, and we try to put what they love in front of them and keep them away from great harm," McConaughey said. "But boy, they are who they are right when they come into the world."
You can watch the full interview tonight on CNN's "Full Circle" at 6 p.m. ET.