Matthew McConaughey Talks About the First Time He Was 'Fully in the Public Eye' (Exclusive)

The leading man also discusses which 'Serenity' co-star he had a crush on back in the day.

Matthew McConaughey still remembers when he realized he was a movie star.

ET caught up with the Oscar winner at the premiere of his new tropical thriller, Serenityin New York City on Wednesday, where he discussed the moment it hit him that he’d arrived in Hollywood.

“Well, I just finished the film A Time to Kill, so I just was fully in the public eye and I remember it very clearly over a weekend, it went from ‘There's a hundred scripts I’d love to do but I could only do one of ‘em’ to Monday when the movie comes out and is successful. All of a sudden, I could do 99 of those and I was like ‘Holy geez! Three days ago I wanted to do every single one of these.’ So, it was a fun ride at that time. It was a lot of new information but I enjoyed it.”

While on hand, he also discussed his long-standing crush on co-star Diane Lane.

“I had a crush on her since a film she was in -- Lonesome Dove,” the 49-year-old actor confessed. “That may have been almost preteens for me, so [now] I get to work with her. She looks about the same as she did back then. And she’s one of our great actors that we have in show business, in the business of storytelling. It was a privilege I got to work with her.”

The 49-year-old leading man even excitedly shared that he told her that on the first day of filming, but Lane, who was also on hand, said she has no memory of the sweet moment.

I think I blocked it out,” Lane, 54, said of the on-set exchange. "I don’t think he lied. I think he did say that to me day one, and I just had, like, white out. I couldn’t cope. I said, ‘I’m gonna stay in character. Thank you for the compliment. I am dying. Love you too, babe.’”

In their new film, McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a fishing boat captain whose ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) shows up asking him to kill her new violent husband. She offers him millions to get it done, leaving Baker with a terrible decision to make.

Serenity arrives in theaters on Friday, Jan 25.

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