As 2013 winds down, Hollywood elite are gearing up for the 2014 award season, beginning with the Golden Globes on January 14. While some stars will spend the next few weeks crunching with personal trainers and drinking power smoothies in order to fit into their clingy designer gowns and slim-fitting suits, actors, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto will be visiting the buffet line. Last year, they each lost nearly 50 pounds to play HIV patients in the critically acclaimed, Dallas Buyers Club.
If you caught the 2012 hit, Magic Mike, you know how svelte Matthew McConaughey was to begin with. Leather chaps don’t leave much to the imagination. So, why would he take on a project that left him looking pale, emaciated and weighing a mere 135 pounds? McConaughey says it was a role he simply had to play. He was so committed to the movie, he signed on before the film even had a director.
In the movie, McConaughey plays fellow Texan, Ron Woodroof, a homophobic electrician who contracted the AIDS virus in the 1980s when it was considered a “gay disease.” Refusing to accept his 6-months-to-live diagnosis, Woodroof aligns with an unlikely partner, a transsexual named Rayon, played by Jared Leto. Together, they seek out and distribute experimental HIV drugs that, at the time, had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Before dropping such a substantial amount of weight for his 6-foot frame, McConaughey consulted an actor who had been through the process before. “I actually called Tom Hanks and had a great conversation with him about what he learned about losing weight for Philadelphia and Cast Away,” he said. “And I consulted a nutritionist about the best way to do this.” It’s estimated McConaughey consumed an average of 1700 calories a day. He admits it was a very regimented program saying, “I ate my fish, my vegetables and I had my wine.” For his weight loss, Jared Leto had a less complicated strategy revealing, “I just stopped eating.”
Although Dallas Buyers Club is garnering rave reviews and McConaughey and Leto have picked up Golden Globe noms, their weight loss does raise concerns about their future health. Doctors have long-warned that quick substantial weight loss can lead to dehydration and muscle loss, in addition to reducing the body’s ability to burn calories and regulate blood sugar.
Recently Tom Hanks admitted that he has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. After losing 26 pounds to play an HIV patient in Philadelphia and then undergoing a dramatic weight loss and gain to play a shipwrecked man in Castaway, some medical experts say this fluctuation could have attributed to the diabetes diagnosis.
While McConaughey says he feels great and is currently shooting the movie, Interstellar, only time will tell whether he’s suffered any long-lasting physical effects.