PLAYBOY: Maybe the officer saw a bong.
McCONAUGHEY: I don't believe the guy saw a bong, since there was no bong to see. He saw a man standing buck naked, sweating, playing music, having a ball, singing, and I think he just went, "What planet is this?"
PLAYBOY: Do you admit you had been smoking pot that day?
McCONAUGHEY: We'd been up for two days, man. It was after the Nebraska game, which we won. We were still reveling in the victory. I'm going to leave that there. I'm going straight around that question.
PLAYBOY: Do you advocate smoking pot?
McCONAUGHEY: I say it's up to the individual, man. People say you can't be addicted to it, and I say yes, you can. I know people who are.
PLAYBOY: How about naked bongo playing? Do you recommend it?
McCONAUGHEY: I think everybody should do it at least 100 times. I've done it since, too. Oh yeah, bro, I love playing drums naked. Who doesn't like comfort and music?
PLAYBOY: Before you were famous you posed nude for photos.
McCONAUGHEY: I did, yeah.
PLAYBOY: How did you feel when the photographer sold them after you became successful?
McCONAUGHEY: I understood it. I went to the guy personally and said, "Man, I'm just telling you, I'd rather you didn't. Do you want to do another photo shoot instead?" He said, "No, I got to do this. I can make some money." And I went, "Okay, well." I shook his hand and said, "I'd rather you didn't, but okay, go for it. C'est la vie." And he put them out there.
PLAYBOY: Did you view it as a crisis?
McCONAUGHEY: Most things in life seem like a bigger deal at the time. In the larger scheme, though, most things are just a blip. You want to sober up and talk about real crises? Try some of the stuff I saw in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Try cancer like Lance Armstrong had. Those are crises.
PLAYBOY: You may not have had life-threatening crises like cancer, but you have put yourself in dangerous situations. What's the most reckless adventure you've taken?
McCONAUGHEY: I don't think of any of them as reckless, but yeah, I've been in what people would call dangerous situations. Like when I went down the Amazon in an unstable canoe with its edge an inch above the waterline and a 14-foot gator bumped me. In Africa, a path I had to go through was flooded, and the only way across was to wade. I had my backpack over my head, water up to my chest, and looked to my right and saw about 40 gators sitting there. During a dive I was inverted at 35 meters and came up on the underside of a huge underground reef with 80 barracuda as close as you are now, staring and showing their big teeth. I got called out in a wrestling match in Mali. This guy Michel, a tree trunk of a man, the champion of the village, challenged me.
PLAYBOY: Did you accept his challenge?
McCONAUGHEY: My heart started pounding. I got up and walked toward the pit. I had on a pair of shorts, no shirt, no shoes, beads all woven into my beard. And he's got like a burlap bag with a rope around the waist, no shirt, no shoes. I don't know if we're boxing or what the rules are. The chief is there, but no one speaks English. He comes up, puts one hand on my head and the other on Michel's. Michel comes up, grabs my hip with one hand, then the other, and puts his head into my shoulder, so I do the same thing. Then Michel backs up. So I thought, Okay, he's getting leverage. This is the beginning of the match. And all of a sudden the chief lifts his hand and makes a noise. I've wrestled. I had two older brothers. I have an ass and legs; that's my strength. So I go for Michel's legs, and I look down there and see these tree trunks. I realize, Man, I'm in the land of ass and legs. We are almost horizontal to the ground, locked in a scrum. We spin around, but he doesn't take me down. The longer the wrestling goes on, the more excited the crowd gets. I'm not winning, but he doesn't have me down. I think, I'm doing all right here. We get up, spin around, separate and come back at each other. I try to pile-drive him, and I get him down one time. He flips up, though. Just as he comes to me, I flip up, get out around and above, a quick move. I'm like, All right, I'm surviving this.
Then the chief separates us. I am soaking wet. Blood's running down both my knees. My ankles are bleeding. Two of the beads in my beard are ripped out, so I got blood dripping from there. The chief says, "Beh!" I look over at Michel. He's not even sweating. And I'm like, Oh shit! So we go boom, boom, boom, smash. I flip him, and he comes back and takes me down. I flip him over my head onto my back, flip him over the top. I never pin him, but he never pins me. Another two and a half minutes and the chief steps in, grabs my hand and grabs his hand. He raises them over our heads. The crowd cheers. It was over. For the rest of my stay in the village it was carte blanche, man. I got three or four peanuts, the best chair—meaning the one that had the fewest breaks in it. They caught a chicken, plucked it and cooked chicken and rice for me. They took me down to the water's edge and gave me the cleanest spot in the river to bathe and wash my teeth.