Monday, November 4, 2013


By James Colt Harrison

Matthew McConaughey has had a banner year on film. Weaning himself off big Hollywood block-busters, he has been proving himself to be a good actor by taking on several independent film projects that have made the establishment look at him in a new light. He had a smash hit with Magic Mike (2012). Other independent films that took him away from his usual romantic comedies were Mud (2012). Bernie (2011) and Killer Joe, also in 2011. Now with Focus Features’ Dallas Buyers Club he set his Hollywood ego aside and lost nearly 50 pounds to play his AIDS-stricken character. McConaughey could be nominated for acting honors for both Mud and Dallas Buyers Club come Academy Award® time.

Dallas Buyers Club is based on the true-life adventures of Texas rodeo rider and hell-raiser Ron Woodruff and The Dallas Morning News feature written by reporter Bill Minutaglio. True stories are always stranger than fiction, and Woodruff’s story is no different.

Woodruff was a “good ol’ boy” and drug-addicted rodeo steer rider immersed in the ultra heterosexual world of masculine men and easy women. Woodruff was extremely homophobic. He lived life to the fullest because he was young and attractive. Women flocked to him and he took full advantage of them. He also partied non-stop, took drugs, and apparently had sex with no protection. There is no telling how he contracted AIDS, whether it be through unprotected sex or through his drug addiction. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and given 30 days to live.

The only approved drug at the time was AZT, which had extremely toxic effects on Woodruff. He nearly died from the treatment and sought out other drugs from other countries which were not approved by the US. His doctor, played by the lovely Jennifer Garner, sympathizes with him and helps him set up the Dallas Buyers Club with fellow patient Rayon (Jared Leto) to supply other patients with the drugs they seek. This causes great concern with the Food and Drug Administration and they wage a vicious war against Woodruff to eradicate his business.

Jared Leto is the Breakout Star of the Year (Hollywood Film Awards) and the actor to watch come Oscar® time.  Completely playing against type, he is Rayon, the pre-operative transsexual, who carefully nurtures a relationship with gay-hating Woodruff. The rough cowboy comes to realize Rayon is almost his only friend as they distribute medications through their exclusive drug club for AIDS patients.

Leto is a Renaissance man. He’s a song-writer, a singer, a band member, photographer, painter and actor. In fact, we all came to know him in such films as How To Make an American Quilt, Panic Room, Prefontaine, and American Psycho. He first came into prominence as a teen-ager on the television series My So-Called Life (1994) with Claire Danes. Growing up with a mother who was involved with musicians and artists, he himself became interested in music. He formed the band Thirty Seconds From Mars with his brother Shannon, and they now play gigs around the world and record albums in between Leto’s films.

Twice-voted One of the 50 Most Beautiful People, Leto has not relied on his looks to get ahead. His talents extend to the music world, the arts, and acting. With his sensitive and touching interpretation of a dying transsexual woman in Dallas Buyers Club, he’s assured of a film career for many years ahead. Don’t be surprised if he wins a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® next year.

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