Matthew McConaughey has been getting attention all year for the physical transformation he underwent to play AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. However, as the film’s TIFF premiere made clear, he isn’t the only actor who went to unusual lengths for his role in the film. An instant frontrunner for this year’s Supporting Actor Oscar, Jared Leto lost more than 30 pounds to play Rayon, the HIV-positive transsexual who partners with Woodroof on an underground operation to distribute illegal drugs to AIDS patients. Leto is no stranger to physical transformation – he gained 65 pounds to play Mark David Chapman in 2007‘s Chapter 27 – but this time around, the film in question is worthy of his commitment.
Leto also has experience shedding pounds for a role, having become similarly skeletal for 2000’s Requiem For a Dream. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the actor explains that this experience made his task on Dallas Buyers Club a little bit easier. “You have a greater understanding,” he said. “To lose a lot of weight like that in a short amount of time like I had, you basically just have to stop eating. You eat raw vegetables and sometimes you just want to chew on something so you find something that has a lot of empty calories. I basically was chewing on shoe-leather, anything that would satiate the hunger a little bit.”
While this process was familiar, Leto is more than a decade older now, which may explain a few worrisome symptoms he experienced along the way. “I did wake up a couple of times a little concerned. Heart pounding, sweating a little much, my temperature running a little too hot and just that trying to catch my breath sort of thing. I hadn’t felt that in my past.”