Matthew McConaughey on film that could earn him, Jared Leto acting nods | Inquirer Entertainment
Only In Hollywood

Matthew McConaughey on film that could earn him, Jared Leto acting nods

By: - Columnist
/ 10:57 PM November 21, 2013

JARED (above) was already in character during his Skype audition, hitting on director Jean Marc Vallee, Matthew said. photo: IMDB

LOS ANGELES—Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto so completely immersed themselves in their “Dallas Buyers Club” roles, that they are utterly convincing as Ron Woodroof, a homophobe turned unlikely hero for the gay community and Rayon, an AIDS-stricken transsexual, respectively. The two actors are generating buzz as best actor and supporting actor contenders in this awards season.

HIS DAUGHTER asked why he looked like a giraffe after dieting for the role. photo by Ruben Nepales

For Jared, the transformation into Ron’s transgender business partner began as early as his audition with director Jean-Marc Vallee. The director fashioned a riveting drama based on the true story of Ron, a Texan electrician and rodeo cowboy diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and given 30 days to live. But he fought on; he went to Mexico to learn about alternative AIDS treatments, and began smuggling them into the United States. In the movie, Rayon (a fictional character) becomes Ron’s unlikely ally. Together, they establish a “buyers club,” where HIV-infected persons pay monthly dues to access the alternative medicines.


Close to the bone


Matthew said Jared was in costume as Rayon—hair, makeup, dress and all—from his Skype audition to the last shooting day. He added that he met Jared, not Rayon, only when they began media interviews for the movie.

“Jean-Marc and I were on the film before we had Rayon,” said Matthew, who had gained back the 40-plus pounds he lost for the role (he shrank to 135 lbs.) at the time of this interview. “We didn’t know who would play Rayon. Many were interested. Some people I know were scared of the part, but everyone agreed it was a really good role [though also] one that could be overdone.”

Jared hadn’t acted in six years at the time of his audition, having focused on his rock band, 30 Seconds to Mars. “He Skyped with Jean-Marc,” Matthew said, smiling. “As Jean-Marc loves to say, he didn’t meet Jared until [the movie was done] because Jared got on already as Rayon. He was hitting on Jean-Marc through Skype.”

MATTHEW McConaughey during the press con for “Dallas Buyers Club” photo by RUBEN NEPALES

Matthew continued in his musical Texan drawl, “Jared had Rayon and he underplayed it—close to the bone. I wrote [this] in my diary the first day he came in. I was very much anticipating what he was going to do with Rayon. He felt very real and human. I was like, what if I hadn’t acted in six years?

“But Jared… he knew this guy, kept him very human. I was acting with Rayon. I didn’t know Jared to be anybody else than Rayon.”

As for his own take on Ron, who lived for seven years after being told he was going to die in 30 days, Matthew said, “I spent a lot of time thinking—the isolation, the fear… somebody giving you a ticking clock of 30 days to live… the helplessness of that. Nobody knew what to do with HIV then. The doctors didn’t know, so there was nowhere to go for answers.


“I really admired how he came out of that and didn’t [back] down. He got pissed (about the lack of approved AIDS treatments at the time). I would say it seems true that rage is the one emotion more than any other that [fuels] activity. This guy didn’t sit back in the shadows; he came alive more than he’d ever been.”

A trait not shared

Matthew was given access to Ron’s diary. “That helped a lot,” the actor said. “I saw how lonely he was.”

One trait that Matthew did not share with Ron was the latter’s bigotry, especially before AIDS drastically changed his life. “I’ve been a world traveler since I was really young,” Matthew said. “My favorite was going to places where people were different. I always found a common denominator and I got along. When I came out to Los Angeles, I remember someone saying, ‘There are the different people… with blue hair, gay people.’ I was like, ‘Great.’

“Ron Woodroof was this homophobic bigot. And see what happens to him when he gets HIV. He becomes an outcast, one of the people that he always dismissed. So he had this odd but interesting relationship with [Rayon] whom he would have thought despicable, but who becomes his working partner.”

AS Ron Woodroof (right), unlikely hero for the gay community photo: imdb

Matthew stressed that while the “buyers club” allowed access to alternative AIDS meds, “Ron was also doing it for selfish reasons. We deliberately [showed it in the film] because it was true to who he was. He doesn’t have a moment where he’s like, ‘I was wrong and now, I see the light.’ He was too busy trying to survive and becoming an expert on HIV, too busy running the business. Our hope was that if we kept Ron real through the story, the message of the crusader and activist will come out of his journey.”

To drop to 135 pounds, Matthew followed a strict diet. “Fish and vegetables—so I was eating decent meals,” said the father of three kids with wife Camila Alves. Matthew shared, laughing, that as he got thinner, his daughter Vida asked, “Papa, why is your neck getting longer like a giraffe’s?” The actor said, “I didn’t go the Diet Coke and apple way. I ate fish and a cup of vegetables with tapioca pudding in the morning. I ate some nice things, but in small amounts.”

After “Dallas Buyers Club,” which also stars Jennifer Garner, Matthew has equally interesting projects coming up. He’s in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which comes out on Christmas Day, and the HBO series “True Detective,” which airs in January.

Secret project

Matthew politely refused to reveal details about Christopher Nolan’s intriguing “Interstellar,” other than he would be working on it until the end of this year. All we know is from “A group of explorers makes use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.” We also know that the film, which is being shot under wraps à la “Inception,” has a terrific cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow and Ellen Burstyn.

Pressed one more time for details about Nolan’s latest film, Matthew simply grinned and said, “I’ve been asked not to [talk about it].”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

(E-mail the columnist at [email protected]. Follow him at

TAGS: “Dallas Buyers Club”, AIDS, gay community, Hollywood, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Movies, transsexual

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.