Matthew McConaughey made a dramatic leap of performance with the Dallas Buyers Club. Apart from winning numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, the dashing country boy also became noted for adding seriousness of a new shade to the role of a Texan rogue cowboy.
Ron Woodrof, is diagnosed with AIDS, and to treat his illness he smuggled in unapproved medication into the United States. After good stints in largely rom-coms, and sharing screen space with other ‘dramatic heavyweights’ in films, such as Magic Mike and starring in the good, critically acclaimed-movies, but less impactful for, McConaughey: Bernie and The Lincoln Lawyer, it was exciting to see Matthew win the Oscar. His Oscars acceptance speech, was interesting and it went something like this:
“There’s a few things, about three things to my account that I need each day. One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase. Now, first off, I want to thank God. ‘Cause that’s who I look up to. He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late Charlie Laughton, who said, “When you’ve got God, you got a friend. And that friend is you.”
To my family, that who and what I look forward to. To my father who, I know he’s up there right now with a big pot of gumbo. He’s got a lemon meringue pie over there. He’s probably in his underwear. And he’s got a cold can of Miller Lite and he’s dancing right now. To you, Dad, you taught me what it means to be a man. To my mother who’s here tonight, who taught me and my two older brothers… demanded that we respect ourselves. And what we in turn learned was that we were then better able to respect others. Thank you for that, Mama. To my wife, Camila, and my kids Levi, Vida and Mr. Stone, the courage and significance you give me every day I go out the door is unparalleled. You are the four people in my life that I want to make the most proud of me. Thank you.
And to my hero. That’s who I chase. Now when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say “who’s your hero?” And I said, “I don’t know, I gotta think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.” I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says “who’s your hero?” I said, “I thought about it. You know who it is? It’s me in 10 years.” So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, “not even close. No, no, no.” She said, “Why?” I said, “Because my hero’s me at 35.” So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero’s always 10 years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”
Matthew lost 3 stones to play the role, and he credits this to have made him a lot smarter about food. One other thing that prepared him for the role was avoiding sunlight, almost like a vampire, and go through a LOT of diaries and tapes. What was creepier was how he could not say goodbye to Ron Woodrof even inbetween takes, but perhaps a-longtime-coming given that the script was floating around Hollywood for a while before he managed to acquire it for a remarkably shoestring budget.
The character is very endearing, and not at all dark and brooding as you might be led into believing, even if he is playing a homophobic character. One of Matthew’s favourite catchphrase is from the cult coming-of-age film, Dazed and Confused (1993): “All right, all right, all right” and he uses this at the end of his Oscar acceptance speech. The smuggling activity not only helps him but other AIDS victims too, and Ron is diagnosed with it after having engaged in unprotected sex with an infected, female drug user.
But what heart wrenchingly happens is that he visits the doctor too late into catching the disease and therefore is given only 30 days to live. The role is still McConaughey’s land, it is still his domain, which is a welcoming shift of talent for a dude, who was only known previously to have taken off his shirt at every opportunity and flaunt his shiny abs.
He almost got typecast in rom-coms, and his only explanation to that little situation is that of at least appearing to be a guy who has some dignity left in romance, unlike how the directors would have liked the films to have been.
More on how he prepared for his Oscar-winning role: he lived on Diet Coke, egg whites and a piece of chicken in a day. He avoided social gatherings, didn’t go to dinner, no outside trips, just staying indoors and finding ways to amuse yourself, like keeping a nutrition diary and adapting to a new kind of lunch hour – one that happens in the morning!