| BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Jan 16 "Dallas Buyers
Club" is a film that prompts a discussion about money - not big
Hollywood money, but rather the lack thereof.
The scrappiest of the nine films nominated for a best
picture Oscar on Thursday cost just $4 million to make - a speck
on a Hollywood studio spreadsheet - and 25 days to film.
But the real-life story of an unlikely activist in the fight
against AIDS drew big talent, like Matthew McConaughey who plays
the lead role of Ron Woodroof, Jared Leto as his transsexual
side-kick, Rayon, and up-and-coming Canadian director Jean-Marc
Co-producer Robbie Brenner, after earning her first Oscar
nomination with the best picture nod, remembered how they were
handicapped by the lack of money.
"When we told Jean-Marc that he was going to have less days,
he said 'I am going to get rid of the lights, I am going to
shoot the movie without lights,'" she told Reuters after what
she called "tears and screams" upon hearing Thursday's news.
"Dallas Buyers Club" garnered six nominations in total,
predictably for McConaughey and Leto who both shed dozens of
pounds (kilos) for their roles and were rewarded with Golden
Globes last Sunday for best actor in a drama and best supporting
The film took 20 years to make from script inception and was
touch-and-go even after McConaughey got involved in pulling
"I'm like, wow, this little story that was declined and
rejected 137 times. This little story that was around for 20
years that never could get made," McConaughey told Reuters soon
after the pre-dawn nomination announcements, injecting a few
"wahoos!" in the interview.
"Dallas Buyers Club," from Focus Features, a unit of Comcast
Corp's Universal Pictures, premiered at the Toronto
International Film Festival in September to favorable reviews
and was released in November. It has earned $16 million at the
North American box office.
'NEVER SAY DIE'
While McConaughey, once a hunky staple of the romantic
comedy genre, has had several acclaimed roles in the last year,
his portrayal of the homophobic Texan who fights for AIDS
treatment after he contracts the disease in the 1980s is the one
that got critics talking about the new, more serious direction
in his career.
"What it means for my career is that I can't wait to go back
to work again, tomorrow morning, whenever that is," McConaughey
said. "I'm really, really having a wonderful moment in my career
Leto, who came back to film after a six-year break to focus
on music, said the nominations are "a testament to hard work and
independent cinema and to art house film."
"Hopefully, it gives people the encouragement to continue to
make smart films, films that are different and films that kind
of maybe contain more difficult subject matter," said Leto, who
is currently biding his time on Los Angeles jury duty.
Woodroof died in 1992, seven years after being diagnosed
with AIDS, and by then he had organized a "buyers club" for
mostly gay male AIDS patients to acquire drugs not available in
hospitals in the early days of the AIDS crisis and battling in
court for access to better treatment.
And for co-producer Rachel Winter, the determination of
Woodroof infused the film and its cast and crew with a defiant
"He didn't want to lay down and die, he wanted to stand up
and fight. That's why we wanted to tell this story," she said.
"We had so many hurdles, but it was very much a 'never say
die' attitude from the top down," she added.
When she heard the news this morning, that put her in the
elite best picture category with some of Hollywood's biggest
producers, Winter said she reverted to her days as a Valley
girl, with the signature exclamations of L.A.'s San Fernando
"I think I said 'Oh my God,' like, 45 times. It was the only
thing coming out of my mouth," she said.