McConaughey and Leto shed pounds and wear dresses for the brilliant Dallas Buyers Club
Aside from the huge number of awards it’s already won – and inevitably will continue to win, much of the talk around Dallas Buyers Club has centred on the dramatic weight loss of its two leading men.
To play Ron Woodruff – a homophobic, hedonistic Texan who contracts Aids and then seeks out and sells experimental, off-the-books treatments to others – Matthew McConaughey shed almost 40lb. The result left him – to quote the article in The Dallas Morning News on which the film is based – “as wiry as an ocotillo” (skinny breed of cactus).
Jared Leto, meanwhile… Well, as you can see from the exclusive pictures, his portrayal of Ron’s eventual partner in crime required more than just (similarly dramatic) weight loss. Indeed, for director Jean-Marc Vallée, an indicator of just how seriously the actor/rock star (or rock star/actor as he doubtless prefers to be called these days) would be taking the role of transgender Aids sufferer Rayon came when the pair first discussed the part.
“I met [Leto] at the Toronto Film Festival for the first time,” Vallée told us, “but then for our first Skype chat about the film, he was in full make-up. I thought it was just an act he was going to do for a couple of minutes, but the call ran to half an hour. I thought he was crazy, and funny. It was like he was hitting on me… and it worked.”
Leto would remain in character – “We didn’t know what to call him at first, but it ended up being ’she’,” says Vallée – throughout filming: a low budget ($5m), super-intense 25 days in New Orleans (most location characteristics are the result of visual effects). But if this has taken its toll on Leto – he left the film’s Los Angeles premiere early, and has yet to see the final cut in full, saying it’s “better if I just let go for a little while” – then the results were worth it. Dallas Buyers Club is a hugely moving, often blackly comic and ultimately stunning piece of work, with Leto and McConaughey’s devotion to their roles bringing out also-brilliant performances from, among others, Jennifer Garner (as the pair’s sympathetic legit doctor) and, as Rayon’s lover, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter (the hyper-hip indie band, not the De Niro war epic).
Ahead of the film’s February UK release, we come to the Oscar nominations. Having already bagged a Golden Globe each, we’ll be mighty surprised if either McConaughey or Leto (or both) isn’t clutching a 13in gold figurine come March…
Dallas Buyers Club is at cinemas nationwide from 7 February
(Images: Entertainment One)