Worth the weight
Matthew McConaughey suffered for art and is now odds- on favourite for an Oscar, as Vicky Roach discovers
I HEAR membership to the Dallas Buyers Club is extraordinarily hard to
come by? The script came by with a mass of others and pretty much sank its fangs into me. But it had been around for 15 years and nobody could get it fi nanced. I told my agents, ‘ Don’t lose it. Don’t let it get away from me’. I kept it on my desk and each year I would ask, ‘ What about this fall, this spring?’ Fast Finally, forward I just said, another ‘ It’s time’. fi ve years. And the thing is, we director didn’t called blink. me Eight and days said, before ‘ I don’t we have shot, the the days, there, I I’ll don’t be there’. have the I said, money, ‘ I will but see if you you will next be Tuesday’. You and you’ve have already been nominated won a Golden for an Globe Oscar. Does vindicated? that acknowledgment make you feel I never really felt like I was trying to prove a point to anyone else. I knew Dallas Buyers Club had the DNA to be something special and, if done right, it could be something that could be considered around this time of the season. But I didn’t know if we had made that kind of movie.
The rodeo scenes feel very authentic. My nephew is a bull rider and I have ridden some smaller calves before.
So you knew what you were doing, then. I wouldn’t say that. I have been around livestock but other than that, I just strapped on and went for the buck. I didn’t have to go the full eight seconds but I did get a few short rides. I was just hoping I didn’t get a horn in my face. Handsome comedic fall guy to serious dramatic actor. What happened? I do not have a moment that fi ts the perfect narrative for the story. But I do remember saying to myself at one point that my life felt more vital than my career. And, hey, I’m glad it isn’t the other way around, but I wonder if I can recalibrate my relationship, here, with my career. Did that mean saying no to some lucrative offers? I knew it was going to come at a price. I talked to my agent. And I talked to my wife. I said business is going to dry up and I don’t know how long that’s going to last. But thankfully, I have got my rent paid, my kids are going to eat – there was nothing for a year. Any second thoughts during those 12 months?
I was in by that point. I was like: I know there is light at the end of this tunnel. Then, all of a sudden I get a call from [ William] Friedkin about Killer Joe, and a call from [ Steven] Soderbergh
about Magic Mike, and one from Lee Daniels for The Paper Boy. I think I became a good and fresh idea. Your physical transformation in Dallas Buyers Club is initially quite shocking ( McConaughey shed more than 18kg for the role). The choice to lose [ so much] weight was not an affectation. If someone had gone in there and played the part with my body, at what I weigh, 182 pounds ( 82kg), it wouldn’t have made sense. This is the state the guy was in. And yet it’s not a story about somebody dying. It’s very much a story about somebody trying to live. I have friends who were dying of cancer and their body withered away, but boy, from the neck up they were viscerally grabbing on to every bit of life possible – like a baby bird starving in an eagle’s nest. You still look fairly gaunt in some of the images we have seen of you since. Was it hard to regain the weight?
I did Wolf Of Wall Street on the way down, before Dallas Buyers Club. So I pressed pause for a week. And then I took my time coming back up. I actually enjoyed my weight at 165 pounds ( 74kg) for quite some time. I am just now back up to 180 ( 82kg). The hard part about getting the weight back is there’s a very unhealthy way to do it.
No lasting health issues? Joint integrity was the main challenge because everything shrinks. Your organs. Your muscles. It took a while to get my joint integrity back, but everything feels good now. As an actor, you are obliged to tread an awful lot of red carpet during the award season. I chose to engage in this season. I am proud of Dallas Buyers Club. I am proud of Mud. I am proud of a lot of the stuff I have been doing. The experiences were enough on their own, but because of the resonance of these projects, it feels very good to be in these conversations. I know the answers to the questions that are being asked. I was there. I was part of the experience. What about the not- so- subtle shift from actor to salesman? What’s different, what’s really fun for me, is that the fi lm precedes me. I am not really promoting it. I am there to give testament to the experience.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Now showing at State Cinema