Matthew McConaughey Slims Down as "The Dallas Buyers Club" Shapes Up

Photo Credit: LD Entertainmen
September 21st, 2012

Matthew McConaughey Slims Down as "The Dallas Buyers Club" Shapes Up

-- Matthew McConaughey is a man who takes pride in the way he looks. While he gained fame playing a lawyer in the thriller "A Time to Kill," his recent films have fallen into the romantic comedy and action genres. Because so many roles required a shirtless McConaughey, the actor spent months working out. Tabloids frequently run photos of the actor running on the beach, jogging near his Hollywood home, and lifting weights. When he recently stepped out looking much skinnier, the rumor mill ran rampant with stories that he was sick. The truth is that McConaughey is just shaping up for his newest role in the drama "The Dallas Buyers Club."

The new role puts McConaughey into unfamiliar territory: he plays a victim of AIDS. The film tells the true story of Ron Woodruff, a normal man who lived in Dallas, Texas, during the 1980s. Woodruff found his life changing when doctors diagnosed him with AIDS in 1986. One important way that McConaughey could prepare for the role was to lose weight. He shed dozens of pounds, a big change from his normal fit physique.

Though he spent months preparing for the role by shedding weight, he still finds time to hit the kitchen. His actress-model wife Camila Alves is pregnant with the couple's third child, and the actor admits that she some unusual cravings. McConaughey said in one interview that her most frequent craving is for a high-fat, high-calorie dish her mother makes filled with chicken and cheese.

While his wife can eat anything she wants, McConaughey must stick to a diet plan his personal trainer developed. Gone are the days of eating fatty foods like fried chicken and comfort dishes from his native Texas. The actor now sticks to a high-protein diet that does not allow many carbohydrates.

His role as Woodruff is very different from his last role as a male stripper in the summer 2012 release "Magic Mike." For that role, McConaughey spent months getting in top physical shape with a personal trainer. As he told one reporter, any man would want to look his best if millions of people saw him shirtless. When he accepted the role in "The Dallas Buyers Club," he knew that it would involve a serious change in attitude.

McConaughey is a man's man, the type of person who took his newborn son on a cross-country road trip weeks after the child's birth. He surfs nearly every day, enjoys long jogs, and feels best right after a workout. With his newest role, he had to stop and think before doing anything. The role required that he put himself into Woodruff's shoes.

As much as he wanted to indulge after a hard day, McConaughey would stop and think about Woodruff. Woodruff was a fit and active man, much like the actor. He wanted to stay healthy and active, but his diagnosis made that impossible. When McConaughey thought about eating a fatty meal or high calorie snack, he thought about Woodruff. That helped the actor stick to his diet, in part because he wanted to pay tribute to the man.

Woodruff has an interesting story of his own. He worked as an electrician in Dallas and started using drugs in the 1980s. After an unknown illness began plaguing his life, he finally sought treatment. Doctors gave him a bleak prognosis: they thought he wouldn't make it through the first 6 months. Woodruff shocked everyone by surviving for years by using alternative medicines, many of which he bought in Mexico and smuggled into Texas.

According to McConaughey, the actor lost more than 10 pounds for the role, and he wants to lose 30 more pounds before shooting starts. When he appeared on "Larry King Live," he told the audience that he wants to look unwell in the film. The actor also claims that he lost weight healthily, using a spiritual cleanse. He started his weight loss journey while filming "The Wolf of Wall Street" with Leonardo DiCaprio. Director Martin Scorsese approved of the weight loss, claiming that it gave more depth to his role.

McConaughey is not the first actor willing to tackle the role of Woodruff. Both Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt attached themselves to previous incarnations of the film. While plans for those films fell through, shooting on the McConaughey version begins in fall of 2012. The dramatic transformation that the actor made might land him Oscar gold. Tom Hanks and Charlize Theron are just two actors who made radical images changes and walked away with a statue on Oscar night. If his acting comes anywhere close to his radical body transformation, McConaughey will be the next one holding a statue.