“You gotta understand that I’ve partied a good amount in my life,” McConaughey says now, a sly-dog smile flaring up across his face. “But that night ranks right up there at the top. And what happens when I finally wake up? I hit the lodge and these characters are already drinkin’ again! They cook me up some eggs and we just keep goin’. . .”
That was four months ago. Today McConaughey, who’s 35, is telling the story in a different milieu: poolside at a whitewashed L.A. mansion with a toy-castle look that Details rented for the day. He’s wearing khaki shorts and nothing else, catching some sun rays and chewing some Skoal. When he speaks he draws the words out slowly, endowing them with an extra syllable or two. “Lemme getcha some te-qui-la . . . Strai-ight? Some ice? Ooooh, yeah! Patrón, coupl’a cubes of ice, makes for a fine sipper.” That it’s only eleven in the morning, that what McConaughey calls a sipper is what the rest of us would call a pint glass, are small details that don’t seem worth pointing outespecially if that means interrupting his epic love poem to the Airstream.
“First trip was L.A. to Florida,” he says. “Alone, with my dogthat’s how I like to travel, though my dog just died. Lab-Chow. Cancer got him.” Genuinely sentimental pause. “Anyway, here’s the great thing about it. It’s like, Where do I gotta be? Nowhere! But where’m I gonna go? Well, let’s see, where’s Roger Clemens pitchin’ in the next week? I go online, check, and whoosh! Trip’s figured out!” The next thing he knows, he’s hanging out with a junior-high cheerleading squad in a Colorado steak house or holding on tight while a hurricane rips off the trailer’s awning in the middle of the night.
McConaughey also values the trailer for its ability to turn location shoots into road-tripping opportunities. Woody Harrelson, McConaughey’s close friend and fellow Texan, came out to Vancouver to visit McConaughey on the set of For the Money, a sports-gambling thriller he recently wrapped with Al Pacino. “He was living in a trailer park,” Harrelson says. “No movie star in the world is doing that. I stayed out there for a couple days. It’s kind of funny, but pretty damn cool.” Kate Hudson witnessed the genesis of McConaughey On the Road in 2002 when the two were making How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. “He decided to check out of the hotel and live in this tour bus,” Hudson recalls with a rowdy laugh. “It’s just what he wanted to do. He barbecued, set up a kiddie pool, made that bus a little home.”
And then there’s Penelope Cruz. “She’s seen the Airstream,” McConaughey says, somewhat cryptically. They have been dating since they finished filming Sahara, a campy adventure flick that premieres this month. During the shoot, “we had no sort of relationship other than creatively working together on the set of that film,” he says. “But after it was done it kind of happened naturally.” He grins, and goes on to say that he took Cruz out on the road for a bit, barbecuing and meeting up with odd characters, though he won’t reveal the location of the trailer parks visited by the Spanish princess. “Oh, she loves it!” he says. “You can’t not love it. It’s one of those inevitables. You can go ‘What?’ And then you see it and go ‘Fuck, yeah!’”