This year has seen many ground-breaking performances, but perhaps none more so than Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of Jack Darcy in the film Dallas Buyers Club. The actor took on the challenge of playing a character with AIDS and won the hearts of audiences around the world while doing so. Since its premiere in January, the film has amassed a staggering number of wins, including a Saturn Award for Best Actor, Producers Guild Award for Best Producer and Feature Film, and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In this blog post, we’ll explore the remarkable journey that brought us to this point, the unique methods that helped McConaughey bring the character to life, and the many challenges that the actor and his team faced while making the film.
The Early Days
For anyone who’s been around the industry for a while, it’s hard to believe just how much the landscape of film and TV has changed in the last ten years. Back in 2005, when Dallas Buyers Club was first conceived, the World Wide Web was just beginning to take off, the iPhone had yet to be released, and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist. In other words, this was a whole different world when compared to today, and it presented filmmakers with many unique challenges.
As the son of stockbrokers, McConaughey was used to travelling a lot for work, visiting cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where the bulk of the film’s action takes place. While in these cities, he would often stay in different hotels, eating at different restaurants, and using different modes of transportation, all of which were essential to the character of Jack Darcys.
The experience of making the film, particularly in Austin, Texas, was certainly memorable. One of the key scenes in the movie features McConaughey and his co-stars attending a social gathering involving lots of talking and drinking. The actor took this opportunity to immerse himself in the culture of the area, going out for tex-mex food, hanging out with the locals, and getting to know the city like a native. Many of the crew and students of the University of Texas at Austin even got to play a small role in the making of the movie, and for this, McConaughey is truly grateful.
The One-Of-A-Kind Method
There are probably as many ways to play a character as there are actors, but very few can pull it off like McConaughey. Director Michael Dougherty, who has worked with the actor on several films including Godzilla, gave us an insight into how he manages to bring a diverse array of characters to life.
“I think he’s one of the only ones who can do that,” Dougherty said. “I’ve never seen anyone else who can make something so unique out of something so common. Usually, you’ll see the same actors playing the same role over and over again, but he’ll take that basic part and make it something wonderful.”
McConaughey’s unique talent lies in the fact that he is able to take an ordinary person and magically turn them into something extraordinary. To illustrate this point, we need only to look at how he portrayed a petty thief named TK in 2014’s Interstellar. The character, who was only introduced to the audience through small talk with his friends, immediately won over viewers with his dry wit, quick witted one-liners, and self-deprecating humor. TK quickly became one of McConaughey’s most popular characters, and the accolades for his performance – including his first-ever Oscar nomination – only served to highlight his ability to portray unique and memorable characters.
The Making Of ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
The journey that brought us from the early days of development to the premiere of Dallas Buyers Club wasn’t an easy one, and it was far from over once the film had been released.
The bulk of the film was shot in Austin, Texas, with some major scenes being held in Los Angeles. The area around Zilker Park was used as the setting for the majority of the action, with locations like the Downtown Container Park and Colorado River being used for some exterior shots. The crew of the film were on set for most of the year, working long hours with very little time off, and the pressure of completing the project in time for the premiere was certainly something to behold.
The film’s producers spent a considerable amount of money on locations and costumes, and they weren’t afraid to show it. The cast and crew stayed up late at night working on the script, often having to rewrite scenes multiple times before they were able to get the perfect take. During this period of constant rewrites, McConaughey would often disappear for long hours, returning covered in bruises after a particularly hard day on set. The stress of putting together such a comprehensive film in time for its premiere must have been immense, and it was clear that everyone on set had to be on their toes to make sure that everything turned out exactly as planned.
There were several challenges that the crew of Dallas Buyers Club had to overcome, not the least of which was the fact that the main character, Jack Darcys, has AIDS. The fact that the disease was back in the news a decade after it had been prevalent in the ’80s made getting funding for the film even more difficult. Some of the producers of the film had to undergo a dramatic makeover, having their faces altered to look like they had AIDS so that they would not be discriminated against when trying to get a good job.]
The Final Days
Finally, we arrive at the present day, and the last ten years have indeed been an eventful one for Matthew McConaughey. The actor has gone from strength to strength, winning a bunch of Oscars, getting nominated for a Golden Globe, and being hailed as one of the greatest actors of the 21st century thus far. He’ll soon be appearing in a Marvel film, opposite Robert Downey Jr., and in an upcoming film from the Avengers franchise, which is likely to be released in the next few years.
Although he has faced some challenges along the way, most notably the fact that he is living with HIV, McConaughey’s work rate has remained steady, and he continues to produce some of the most memorable characters in contemporary films. As Dougherty pointed out, aside from his talent, the biggest factor behind McConaughey’s success is the fact that he is a humble man who never forgets where he comes from. An interviewee in a recent issue of Men’s Fitness magazine sums up the actor best: “Matt has a wonderful way of showing that no matter what happens in life, you can always come back and succeed. He doesn’t let the haters get in the way of his dreams; instead, he embraces and promotes those who support him.”