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Matthew McConaughey opens up about his 8-year estrangement with his mom

"I was not able to talk to her as my mom for about eight years," said the Oscar winner.
Matthew McConaughey's mom, Kay, joined her son on Tuesday's new episode of "Red Table Talk."
Matthew McConaughey's mom, Kay, joined her son on Tuesday's new episode of "Red Table Talk."Red Table Talk / Facebook
/ Source: TODAY

Matthew McConaughey and his mom, Kay, opened up about their difficult eight-year estrangement on Tuesday's emotional episode of "Red Table Talk" on Facebook Watch.

The 51-year-old Oscar winner and his 88-year-old mom explained that their rift began when Kay became besotted by her son's newfound fame in the mid-1990s.

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"As soon as I got 'famous' after 'A Time to Kill,' I started to have my weekly Sunday call home to call my mother," McConaughey told hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris.

But, he continued, "Mother wasn’t answering the phone. A fan of my fame was answering the phone."

McConaughey, who writes candidly about the pair's estrangement in his new memoir, "Greenlights," said he felt betrayed when Kay began leaking news about his life to the media.

"I was trying to find my own balance with fame and stuff. And I would share things with her ... some of those things I would share might show up in the six o’clock news three days later," he recalled.

The "Dallas Buyers Club" star said the final straw came when he learned Kay had invited a camera crew for the tabloid news program "Hard Copy" into the family's home.

"I call her up and, of course, she’s watching it too, so she picks up the phone, and I hear the same damn show in the background!" he said, adding that Kay told him, "I didn’t think you’d find out."

McConaughey said his fame made it impossible for the two to communicate.

"There were years there where I would not share things with her because I was, you know, again, finding my own balance," he said. "I was like, 'Look, mom, loose lips will sink ships. There are a lot of people that would like to know these things and it's none of their business.'

"I was not able to talk to her as my mom for about eight years," he added.

Looking back on that time with her son, Kay admitted she was "enjoying his fame more than he was."

The pair gradually mended their relationship as Kay learned to respect McConaughey's boundaries — and as he learned how to navigate life in the limelight.

After those eight years, McConaughey said, "My boat was built well enough where I didn’t feel like she could sink it. I just took the reins off, and said, 'Mom, hit that red carpet, talk to all of 'em, and tell them all the stories you want. And she's been great about it ever since."

For the past eight months of the coronavirus pandemic, Kay has been quarantining in Texas with McConaughey, his wife, Camila Alves, 38, and their three kids: Levi, 12, Vida, 10, and Livingston, 7.

"It's been really, really lovely," said Kay. "I'm enjoying so much being around my grandchildren. I'm very comfortable with them. Matthew is a very good son. I tell him that all the time. He's good to me."