'Dallas Buyers Club' takes homophobic cowboy's AIDS tale to Toronto

Sun Sep 8, 2013 3:59pm EDT
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By Mary Milliken

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ron Woodroof was about the most unlikely of heroes in the frightening early days of AIDS in the 1980s - a homophobic, cocaine-snorting, sex-addicted Texas rodeo cowboy who crudely made fun of actor Rock Hudson's battle against the disease.

No one wanted to make the film about the guy for the longest time, says actor Matthew McConaughey. But 20 years after inception, "Dallas Buyers Club" - a chronicle of Woodroof's transformation from bigot to AIDS patient to savior of many - has finally made it to the screen.

And had it not been for the Texas-born McConaughey's extreme weight loss to play Ron, the film might never have happened.

"Dallas Buyers Club" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday and garnered favorable reviews, particularly for McConaughey's depiction of a man both lovable and detestable and awfully skinny.

McConaughey, 43, said he had seen a screenplay years ago, and "the fangs of Ron Woodroof had stuck in me from the first time I read it."

He just wanted to play the part, not produce, but started helping to cobble finances together. He and his partners got to the point where they might have enough money to begin filming, but it was tenuous.

"Someone said, 'Well maybe next spring. And I was like 'I'm 47 pounds down. I could, but I am not gonna,'" McConaughey told Reuters.

He said he and Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee, who McConaughey admired for his 2005 film "C.R.A.Z.Y.," decided to proceed with just over $4 million under their belt, giving the film an underdog air that McConaughey says only added to its allure.   Continued...

Director Jean-Marc Vallee (2nd R) with cast members Jennifer Garner (L), Matthew McConaughey (2nd L) and Jared Leto arrive for the "Dallas Buyers Club" film screening at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, September 7, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch