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Matthew McConaughey road-trips Alabama, drives fans to deeper respect for a movie star

by Staff

Movie fans have learned a lot about Matthew McConaughey’s adventures in Alabama the past few weeks as he filmed scenes for an upcoming independent production, “The Rivals of Amziah King.”

For one thing, he doesn’t use a chauffeur, or have assistants ride along with him. The A-list movie star prefers to drive himself to his filming locations. He enjoys driving backroads and side streets, doesn’t mind rolling the driver’s side window down in the heat and acknowledging his fans.

And he’s brand loyal.

“I’ve been driving a Lincoln since long before anybody paid me to drive one,” he says in his smooth Texas drawl in one of his best-known commercials. “I didn’t do it to be cool. I didn’t do it to make a statement. I just liked it.”

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He wasn’t lying. He’s a brand ambassador for Lincoln Motor Company. He likes driving a Lincoln. He drove a Lincoln Aviator leaving the Pell City Steakhouse on June 14. He drove it on June 29 to the Green Valley neighborhood in Hoover.

“How y’all doing?” McConaughey said to a group of Hoover residents standing outside near their homes to watch the commotion made by a film production crew. “I came to work in your neighborhood.”

McConaughey shot scenes inside a borrowed Hoover house, a night scene outdoors in the neighborhood and inside Oakmont Chapel Presbyterian Church, an A-frame church on Patton Chapel Road.

As he drove away in his Lincoln, resident Mary Pugh said, “Mr. McConaughey, can we get a wave?”

He flashed a Hook’em horns sign and said, “See you in September.”

That was an apparent reference to when the Texas Longhorns play the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 9.

“It was pretty cool for me,” Pugh said. “It’s been the highlight of my summer.”

McConaughey drove past the onlookers with his car window rolled down. “It wasn’t like he was trying to block the world away,” Pugh said. “He’s from Texas. He’s probably used to the heat, and to Southern ways, and is a little more down to earth.”

He left residents of a Hoover neighborhood smiling and feeling good.

“To have someone of his caliber, a movie star, in your neighborhood working is phenomenal,” Pugh said.

“It was a good experience to be there when a movie was being made,” said Cindy Davenport, who watched a scene being filmed in her church, Oakmont Chapel Presbyterian Church. “Hollywood has come to Chartwell Road. It was just a lot of fun. It was an exciting day.”

McConaughey also drove his Lincoln on Friday to the Frosty Mug in Walker County.

The Frosty Mug was transformed by a film crew on Friday into a fictional restaurant called Ulysses’ Steak Sandwiches, featuring a cartoon sign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant riding a horse and holding up a sandwich in his hand.

The Frosty Mug in Walker County was outfitted with new signs to transform it into the fictional Ulysses’ Steak Sandwiches on June 30, 2023, for filming of “The Rivals of Amziah King.” At the far right is a deck that overlooks the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River. (Photo by Greg Garrison/

Ray Mosley, a truck driver and gospel quartet singer who lives near the Frosty Mug, said he never expected a major movie star to be filming near his home.

“I never thought I’d see this,” he said, after snapping a photo of McConaughey driving his Lincoln.

The Frosty Mug is one of Mosley’s favorite hangouts. “They have really good soft-serve ice cream,” Mosley said. “Oh, it’s good. They have a club sandwich that’ll knock your socks off.”

Matthew McConaughey pulls out of the parking lot at the Frosted Mug, re-branded as the fictional “Ulysses’ Steak Sandwiches,” on June 30, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Ray Mosley)

On Friday, McConaughey grabbed a stringed instrument and joined other musicians for a scene on the Frosty Mug’s wooden deck overlooking the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River. Filming went from afternoon on a 100-degree day on into the hot night.

He reportedly dropped in at the Sumiton Walmart and was friendly to the locals. He has embraced the local ethos and immersed himself in Alabama culture.

McConaughey, a father of three, enrolled his youngest son, Livingston, 10, at a one-day Nick Saban youth football camp in Tuscaloosa on June 13, according to ESPN. Saban is known for punctuating sentences by saying, “A’ight?” McConaughey is known for saying “Alright, alright, alright!” So, they seem like kindred souls.

For McConaughey, life is a road trip, as he explains in his online workshop, “Road Trip: The Highway to More.”

While his memoir, “Greenlights,” uses a term common in the movie industry for moving ahead with production of a film, McConaughy also uses the metaphor of a traffic light as a spiritual symbol, with the emphasis on moving past red lights, or hurdles in life, and embracing the green to move forward.

“The Rivals of Amziah King,” written and directed by Andrew Patterson, began filming in Alabama around June 9 with scenes at J&J Grocery & Deli in Bessemer. The crime thriller, set in Oklahoma, is expected to continue shooting in the area through July.

That means there are likely more movie star encounters ahead soon for Alabama residents as McConaughey continues to road-trip Alabama, one green light and country stop sign at a time.

J&J, Pell City Steakhouse and the Frosty Mug, among other Alabama scenes, will have a place in a movie starring an Oscar-winning actor. That means a lot to movie fans in Alabama.

“For those that are movie buffs, it’ll last a long time,” Mosley said.

Matthew McConaughey carries a mandolin as he prepares to shoot a scene for “The Rivals of Amziah King” in Hoover on June 29, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Katherine Hart)

More on Matthew McConaughey in Alabama:

Matthew McConaughey raises ruckus in Walker County as fans flock to Frosty Mug

Matthew McConaughey throws horns up to fans during movie shoot in Pell City

Matthew McConaughey spotted at downtown Birmingham cafe: ‘He was so nice’

Matthew McConaughey spotted at burger joint in Alabama as movie filming begins

Where readers think Matthew McConaughey should eat in Alabama, other than their houses

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