The new, highly anticipated film “Dallas Buyers Club” tells the true story of Ron Woodroof—a party boy, who was given just thirty days to live after he contracted HIV in 1986—who defies the odds when he is able to survive beyond what the doctors believed he would. By smuggling anti-viral medications from across the globe into the United States, he makes it his mission to help others do the same.
“The hard truth that I could see, and the way I approached it, was him getting HIV is what gave him his purpose in life,” said Matthew McConaughey in an interview with PrideSource, which noted how the actor still looked slender after dropping forty pounds to play Woodroof. “That’s the first time that he had something that he grabbed ahold to for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day, until he was here no longer. That’s where he found a real identity. That’s where he found a purpose.”
As he becomes a crusader for advancements in HIV medicine and the gay community, Woodroof’s journey leads him to Rayon (played by Jared Leto, who snagged a Hollywood Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film), an HIV-positive trans woman “full of grace and charm.”
“I was a bit of a natural, to tell you the truth,” Leto told press about his having to wear heels during filming. Leto made headlines when he dressed in drag for Candy magazine back in late June. The cover and spread were shot by famed photographer Terry Richardson, known for being a bit of a provocateur all on his own.
Leto has said that one of the biggest things he wanted to do was to bring justice to Rayon by being unafraid to embrace her sexuality.
“Oftentimes, you see this role in a film and it’s a punch line, it’s a bit of a stereotype, and it’s also a safe choice for a lot of people,” he says. “It’s a role that doesn’t have a lot of sexuality. I mean, the character isn’t sexualized. And to me, I thought it was important not to be scared of that part.”
No stranger to the LGBT community, having grown up in New York City and Los Angeles, Leto decided to meet with young transgender kids to discuss their biggest challenges, an experience he called “impactful” for his role as Rayon.
“For me, it was important to identify with the desire to get to know oneself—one’s true self—because that’s what identity is really about,” Leto told PrideSource. “It goes even beyond gender. It’s who are you in your heart, and how do you express who you are? And Rayon was in a process of discovery as well. She was finding out who she really was and certainly wanted to live her life as a woman and identify with that. So, [for me, it was]a really beautiful experience and a role of a lifetime.”
“Dallas Buyers Club” hits theaters on Friday, November 1.