With film star Matthew McConaughey, it may be a case of the "horse before the cart." Was the actor associated with shirtless exhibitions and surfing before "Surfer, Dude" or after?

Actually, the Texas native never had an interest in long boards and waves before being approached to star in the surfing flick, "Surfer, Dude." In it, he portrays a Malibu soul-searching surfer. That was almost two years ago, and McConaughey has been shirtless and long-boarding ever since.

But the 39-year-old, ruggedly handsome actor began his career in 1991 when he appeared in student films and TV commercials while attending the University of Texas in Austin. Small parts came and went until 1993 when he was cast in the now cult classic "Dazed and Confused."

His big break came opposite Sandra Bullock in the movie based on the John Grisham novel, "A Time To Kill," where his leading man status was solidified with his gritty performance as Jake Brigance.

Along the way to more prominent Hollywood status, McConaughey picked up People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" title in 2005.

It was his meeting and subsequent dating of model Camila Alves that changed his life forever. Alves gave birth to the couple's son, Levi, this past July, an event that has put their personal life under more public scrutiny.

McConaughey has never been one to fall into the Hollywood machine. He founded JK Livin Foundation that helps young people live their lives to the fullest. He also literally gave his voice to a Peace Corps ad campaign in 2006, the same year he founded his film company, j.k.livin productions, which produced his current indie film "Surfer, Dude." Personal and professional success seems to have coincided this year for McConaughey, with a lucrative development deal with Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount Pictures and Imagine Entertainment.

Bankrate: You have experienced Hollywood on many levels. Can you remember a time when you shunned big money for a certain project, or have you experienced financial problems on any level?

Matthew McConaughey: I would say "Surfer, Dude" would be the closest to experiencing financial difficulty. There have been some things, though, that came across my plate and as an actor that I didn't want to do. But then, they were all for more money than I had ever seen before in my life. There were a few things that I was like, "No, I don't think I'll do that no matter what the number is." Sometimes things got big sponsorship or financing, and that money made me say, "Let me re-read this." So I guess everyone does have his or her price (laughs).

Bankrate: What kind of financing problems did you have with "Surfer, Dude?" I would think that you're so well-established that you wouldn't face these problems.

Matthew McConaughey: Well, it's not your typical McConaughey movie. We made this, and it's really the first film for the "Just Keep Livin'" production company. We made it in 28 days for just over $6 million, which is very low by today's filming standards. In Hollywood budget terms, for this size movie, it was a very tight budget. It's more of an independent type film, obviously.