And what a debut it was: Though McConaughey's first film role, the character of Wooderson in Dazed and Confused has remained one of the actor's most-recognized roles. (The film itself turned 20 this year.)
Whether it was the leering grin, the mustache, or the aura of older-brother cool, McConaughey-as-Wooderson nearly walked away with the movie entirely, and so we're wishing Levi, Vida and Livingston's dad a happy 44th birthday with the super cut below.
McConaughey, who reportedly based the character of Wooderson on his own older brother, was so taken with the character's life philosophy that he named his production company after it: JKL Productions, as in, "Just keep livin', man… L-I-V-I-N."
Turns out we're not the only ones who appreciate a little McConaughey affectation in our lives. Check out Matt Damon doing a wonderful Matthew McConaughey impression, poking fun at his pal's seeming inability to keep his shirt on before, during, or after filming.
Want more McConaughey through the years? Look back at his changing looks in this PEOPLE video.