A Minute With: Jared Leto on movies, music and playing a transgender woman

Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:14pm EDT
 
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After transitioning from a Hollywood heartthrob to a critically acclaimed actor, then fronting a rock band with worldwide success, Jared Leto takes on one of his biggest challenges yet, playing a transgender HIV patient in his return to film.

"Dallas Buyers Club," out in U.S. theaters on Friday, is based on a real story. Leto, 41, plays Rayon, a HIV-positive transgender woman who helps homophobic drug addict Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) smuggle much needed medication not approved in the United States to other AIDS patients.

Leto, who rose to fame as a complex teenager on 1990s TV series "My So-Called Life" and has had roles in 1999's "Fight Club," 2000's "Requiem for a Dream" and 2002's "Panic Room," recently focused on being the frontman of the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars. Rayon is his first film role in five years.

Leto, spoke to Reuters about why he was drawn back to acting and what he has learned about Hollywood through his film and music.

Q: You've established a very successful career in music that seems to be keeping you occupied full time. What drew you back to film after five years away?

A: I fell in love. I was seduced by the idea of bringing (Rayon) to life. I saw her as an incredibly gracious, kind, funny, fun, big-hearted dreamer, and I couldn't say no.

Q: How did you interpret the relationship your character develops with Matthew McConaughey's Ron?

A: They need each other. Ron ultimately needs Rayon because she changes him and I think that Ron provides a certain father figure to Rayon. They both help each other in that fight, that battle to stay alive.   Continued...

 
Actor Jared Leto poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, California October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson