Are things alright in Austin?

Matthew McConaughey wants to preserve the soul of Austin amid rapid growth

Matthew McConaughey wants to preserve soul of Austin amid rapid growth

Matthew McConaughey University of Texas Austin longhorn hook em
UT's Minister of Culture is excited about Austin's growth, noting, "They're all coming for the vibe." University of Texas at Austin/Facebook

You can count actor Matthew McConaughey among the Austin residents who are pumped about the city’s explosive growth, complete with its soaring home prices and worsening traffic.

McConaughey tells The Hollywood Reporter that he’s been “waiting for the secret” about Austin to get out. (Many of us, however, believe the secret has been out for quite a long time.)

“I’m excited for the growth,” McConaughey says. “We’re not going back. We don’t have a landmark like Niagara Falls or Disney World or the Eiffel Tower. They’re all coming for the vibe. We’ve got people.”

That includes a cadre of Hollywood people who’ve relocated to Austin. Among them are Shazam! star Zachary Levi (who plans to build a studio on his property in Bastrop), Scott Eastwood (son of legendary Clint), Stephen Amell (Arrow), Adrian Grenier (Entourage), and James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek).

Like many Austin residents, McConaughey frets about how the influx of newcomers might affect the city.

“What we have to watch in Austin is the preservation of our DNA,” McConaughey says. “I’ve talked to quite a few people before and since they came here, and the two words I hear over and over again are ‘hospitality’ and ‘optimism.’ So my line has been, ‘Don’t turn here into why you left there.’ Our challenge is going to be how we handle this great influx. If any place has an identity in the soul that we need to preserve, it’s Austin.”

“The unwritten motto of Austin has been to Keep Austin Weird,” he adds. “The landscape has changed, but I hope that doesn’t change. It’s a cool spot. Hopefully it stays that way.”

One celebrity who’s not so enthralled with Austin is stand-up comedian and podcaster Tim Dillon, a recent transplant. He believes his move to Austin was a mistake, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s not a world-class city,” Dillon griped during a recent episode of his podcast. “The city of Austin, Texas, is a city [for artists] who have left New York or LA and never figured out a way to make their art commercially viable. It’s been forever a community of sloth-like people. Joe Rogan can walk around and say, ‘Why don’t you write more? Shouldn’t you work out?’ They’re losers to the bone.”