Matthew McConaughey plays a homophobe who gets AIDS in the 1980s in "Dallas Buyers Club." Credit: Getty Images
By the time Matthew McConaughey signed on for the long-in-development "Dallas Buyers Club," it had become one of those projects many in Hollywood assumed would just never happen. The film, about real-life early HIV patient Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), has had several actors attached over the years without going forward. So what changed with McConaughey? He willed it into production through massive weight-loss.
McConaughey famously dropped 47 pounds for the role, filming at an alarming 137 pounds, and as far as he was concerned once the weight started coming off, the train had left the station. "There were many times as we were approaching people were going, 'It's not going to happen. How about pushing it to spring?'" McConaughey remembers. "And I was like, 'You're going to make me go through Christmas and four more months of this? You want me to be 110? No!'"
As much attention as his weight loss has gotten — he says he's gained back 40 of the 47 pounds — McConaughey doesn't think it's that big of a deal. "The body's much more resilient than we give it credit for sometimes," he says. "You're reminded of that especially after women give birth. It really can rebound."
In fact, he'd even go so far as to call losing all that weight fun. "Even the hard work is fun. The going down 47 pounds was fun," he says. "It's a singular focus, to have something to grab onto and say, 'Let's see where we get to and what we do.' That's fun."
"Dallas Buyers Club" serves as a kind of culmination of a remarkable career renaissance for McConaughey over the past two years, when he returned to film after a brief break with a string of remarkable, off-kilter roles in "Bernie," "Killer Joe," "Mud" and "Magic Mike."
As for what sparked the change, McConaughey gives full credit to his wife and two young children at home. "This is a really healthy time in my career. I'm enjoying and loving acting more than I ever have," he says. "I've got a really great support system in my family. They allow me to put the blinders on.
"I've got a wife who allows me to not have to look in the rearview mirror. And I'm still getting time with my family — and if anything I'd say kids sure help the job I do. They sure remind you that we're playing make-believe, so let's make them believe. They sure remind you to be goofy as hell if you want to, which just frees up the instrument so that it's really working; when you're acting, you're not really acting."