In the Dark

Truth on a Diet

Now that Matthew McConaughey has won his loudly preordained Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, it’s time we asked how he did it. The answer is simple.  He pulled off a canny trifecta: First, he made himself an LGBT wet dream by playing a heterosexual who gets AIDS; second, he lost 40 or 50 pounds (depending on whom you believe) to make his portrayal convincing, a feat that neatly aligns him with the wildly popular reality show The Biggest Loser; and, third, in the course of the story, his character evolved from a homophobic lunkhead to a dear friend of a homosexual cross-dresser.  In our popular culture, all of these wagers guarantee pay dirt.  OK by me, except I don’t think an Oscar’s quite right.  If only the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had arranged to have Matthew mince on stage to collect a golden Detecto for his work in its new Weight Change category . . . 

In the service of his art, McConaughey went on camera nearly 50 pounds lighter than his normal weight to play Ron Woodroof, the Texas electrician who had been given 30 days to live after being diagnosed with HIV in 1985.  Evermore restrained than their colonial mates in America, members of the British press put the pounds at a more modest 39.  I don’t know who’s right, but I will say this: In the film, McConaughey...

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