By Elizabeth Leonard
June 25, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic

Matthew McConaughey has shared the screen with a dazzling lineup of A-list leading ladies, from Sandra Bullock and Kate Hudson to Jennifer Garner and Reese Witherspoon. But which Hollywood actress won his heart long before they’d even met?

“I had a big crush on Sarah Jessica [Parker] growing up,” the Free State of Jones star tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.

When the two teamed up for the 2006 romantic comedy Failure to Launch, McConaughey, 46, even fessed up.

“I did let her know,” he shares during an interview with PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly‘s editorial director for an exclusive video series, The Jess Cagle Interview.

“I don’t know if it was the first day of shooting or the last, but I did let her know.”

Of course, the actor would find real love with Camila Alves, 34, whom he married in 2012 after six years of dating.

As for the roster of former leading ladies, McConaughey has nothing but fond feelings. Among those he weighs in on are Bullock (“Could run her own country”), Jennifer Garner (“I could trust Jennifer with anything”), Jennifer Lopez (“Quad threat … When Lopez shows up, she goes to work”), and close buddy Reese Witherspoon (“She’s very ambitious … and makes it happen”).

Watch McConaughey’s full Jess Cagle Interview above.