Smith, McConaughey, Lowe: 80’s Icons Share Their Lives

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From Seth Rogen to Michelle Obama, it seems that every A-list celebrity is releasing a memoir.  Whether it’s a heartfelt tribute to childhood, a triumphant tale of recovery, or a string of quirky anecdotes, these glimpses behind the scenes allow the average fan to connect and empathize with those they idolize most.  These memoirs also serve as a tool for celebrities to explore a more human, down-to-earth side of themselves that is often overlooked by the media.  Out of the memoirs that have been released in the last ten years, there are three that stand out as truly unique, worthwhile reads.  

1. Matthew McConaughey- Greenlights

Published in 2020, this debut work by Matthew McConaughey is a tour de force of relatable anecdotes, surprising insights, and unique storytelling.  Written as only Matthew McConaughey could, this memoir takes an in-depth look at all aspects of his life.  Starting where it all began, McConaughey details his childhood as a cow-wrangling cowboy in the heart of Texas.  He passes on the wisdom he learned from his father, the ideals and goals he instilled in himself early on, and the road that led him to landing his first major role in Dazed and Confused.  As well as this, he also briefly details his career and the issues with his relationships and mental health during his career.  McConaughey also describes his many journeys, from Morocco to the Amazon, and the valuable lessons he learned about himself and the world.  Overall, Greenlights is a distinctive memoir and gives its readers something to take away. 

Excerpt:“So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.”

2. Rob Lowe- Stories I Only Tell my Friends

    Released in 2012, Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Tell my Friends is a blast from the past.  From growing up in rural Ohio, to moving to Malibu, to making his way into the core of 80’s pop culture, Rob Lowe has seen it all.  His roots in the heartland make his life story relatable, even through the fame and celebrity.  He dives deep into the alcoholism he dealt with in his 20s and the rush of fame that swept him off his feet in his teen years.  Lowe’s candid, first hand accounts of life as a teen star and the plateau of his fame gives his reader’s a deeper connection to his life. 

Excerpt: “As a person navigating the waters of public scrutiny, you are often unable to hold on to personal heroes or villains. Inevitably you will meet your hero, and he may turn out to be less than impressive, while your villain turns out to be the coolest cat you’ve ever met. You never can tell, so you eventually learn to live without a rooting interest in the parade of stars, musicians, sports champions and politicians. And you lose the ability to participate in the real American pastime: beating up on people you don’t like and glorifying people you do.”

3. Will Smith- Will

Published in 2021, Will Smith’s memoir Will was released less than a year before the infamous slap.  This touching autobiography shows a different side of Smith that the public doesn’t see.  He writes of his early childhood with an abusive but influential father and how his experiences with him shaped his views on life and fatherhood.  He describes his early rise to stardom as The Fresh Prince, and the hard work he put in to make it in the entertainment industry.  He also gives a behind the scenes look at his personal life, raising his kids, and developing a strong relationship with his wife.  This book is a great read for anyone interested in Will Smith and his body of work. 

Excerpt: “The “truth” is whatever I decide to make you believe, and I will make you believe it: That’s what I do. I’m a master storyteller. I thought about showing you the pretty me, a flawless diamond; a swaggy, unbreakable winner. A fantasy image of a successful human being.”