Photos emerged yesterday showing Matthew McConaughey looking haggard and shockingly thin. Turns out the Magic Mike star in the process of losing 30 pounds for his next role, in which he plays a HIV+ man battling the medical establishment.
The Dallas Buyer’s Club, set to start filming in September, will be directed by Jean-Marc Vallée from a script by Melissa Waller and Craig Borten.
It presents the true story of a homophobic Texas electrician named Ron Woodruff (McConaughey) who contracted HIV in the 1980s from sharing needles. Told by his doctor (played by Hilary Swank) to go home to die, he makes other plans.
The film’s one sheet has more details:
Unable to fit the selection criteria for the new experimental drug AZT, Ron’s ‘fixer’ mentality takes over and he finds a way to buy the drug on the black market. But when Ron’s health takes a dramatic turn for the worse, he discovers a progressive homeopathic doctor practicing in Mexico and enthusiastically follows this new alternative regime. Soon Ron is healthy again and learns a horrifying fact: it wasn’t the virus that was killing him, it was the AZT that the FDA is already hastily and greedily rushing onto the market…
As opportunistic as ever, Ron returns to Dallas and starts smuggling herbal, non-toxic drugs into the country and treating fellow patients through his Dallas Buyer’s Club, only to be condemned and arrested by the government for illegal pharmaceutical sales. Unbeknownst to Ron, we watch as his character evolves and he becomes increasingly passionate and defiant about saving lives, rather than just trying to make a quick buck. And when Ron then gets embroiled in a massive lawsuit against the government over not only his right to treat himself, but also for others to buy from him and treat themselves naturally, he has to use every ounce of his determination and courage to take on the FDA – not only to save his own life, but also the lives of thousands of others.
The long-gestating project was originally intended for Brad Pitt and then later Ryan Gosling was attached.. (If director Vallée’s name rings a bell, it’s because he helmed the award-winning gay drama C.R.A.Z.Y.)
The film is something McConaughey is passionate about, but he admits it hasn’t been easy to get the cameras rolling. “It was very tough to get the money for that one, being the subject material and it’s a period piece,” McConaughey told Larry King last month. “We’ve been really, really close for a long time. We’ve been going back to getting a number that Jean-Marc felt like he could make it for and still give us the right creative license to tell it the way we need to. Sometimes they just happen. There’s momentum right now.”
As for the drastic weight loss, he’s taking a predictably Buddhist approach: “It’s a bit of a spiritual cleanse, mental cleanse… It takes a while for your body to understand that it has to feed off of itself and that you’re not going to give it something else from the outside.”
If handled well, this could be an incredible movie.