Matthew McConaughey Drops Weight To Play HIV+ Drug Runner In “Dallas Buyer’s Club”

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 real Ron Woodroof

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.

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  • MikeE

    Oh great, now a film promoting that bullsh** conspiracy theory that drug companies aren’t trying to help HIV+ people, and that “herbal remedies work”.

    If “alternative medicine” really worked, it would be simply be called “medicine”.
    If that herbal crap he was taking really worked, we’d all be using it now.

    And by the way, yeah, AZT saved my life 25 years ago.

  • keoki3

    Ugh, McConaughey was the best this team could do? Pity.

  • AS

    This sounds like a dangerous movie, possibly leading to death of people who refuse to take their medication and resort to snake oil cures.

    Most drugs originate from some herbal origins but using science we now know what works and what is just a crap tasting tea.

    Cyanide is “natural” but is still going to kill you.

    3 people died in London because they believed they could pray the HIV away. Feeding people
    rubbish about herbal cures will have the same effect.

  • Olive Austin

    I knew Ron Woodroof (that’s the correct spelling of his name…look it up, and it’s on his grave marker at Dallas’ Restland Memorial Park) *very well* and he was not homophobic; quite the opposite — which is how he became positive. He told a Dallas Times Herald reporter that he acquired HIV by IV drug use because the IV drug user community (in North Texas, at least) was very homophobic in the 80’s, whereas the gays didn’t care one way or the other about the IV drug users. It was a smart business move on Ron’s part, and the newspaper article connected a lot of suffering people with the medications they needed to improve the quality of their remaining lives.

    The Dallas Buyers Club didn’t sell “that herbal crap” or anything “alternative”. We imported medications that were otherwise unavailable in the US because of FDA foot dragging. One example is the anti-fungal Fluconazole (now sold in the US as Diflucan); fungal infections were killing thousands of PWAs and the only FDA-approved treatment, Amphotericin, was arguably worse than the fungal infection. The Dallas Buyer’s Club got Fluconazole from a source in Canada and made it available at cost. We also got grey-market DDC (now Zalcitabine) years before FDA approval, which extended and enhanced the lives of people who had run out of FDA approved options.

    That’s all due to the Ron Woodruff I knew.

  • hyhybt

    @Olive Austin: If all that is true, then it’s a shame the article describes it as totally different.

  • AS

    @ Olive

    Thank you for the correction. It is a real pity the article is so misleading.

  • emunn

    @Olive Austin: Dear Olive — I am a researcher trying to find old friends and colleagues of Mr Woodroof … could you contact me as I would love to speak with you about what you remember of the old Dallas Buyers Club. Best regards. [email protected]

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