It’s easy to dwell on the headlines surrounding Jared Leto’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club. Yes, he lost more than 30 pounds to play Rayon, the drug-addicted, HIV-positive transgender woman who becomes an unlikely partner with Matthew McConaughey’s homophobic AIDS patient in a 1980s meds-smuggling operation. Yes, he playfully hit on director Jean-Marc Vallée while in character during their first meeting, and yes, he never stepped out of character until the film wrapped. But Leto’s most powerful moment in the movie is the scene in which Rayon dresses up as a man. Wearing a dark suit that hangs on her skeletal frame, eschewing makeup and a wig in order to pacify Rayon’s conservative father, Leto captures all the hurt and heart that simmers just beneath the surface. Rayon wears that suit like the fabric is burning her skin. “A lot of times this part had been covered in a way that was more campy or over-the-top,” says Leto. “I wanted to bring a real person to the screen.” For the 41-year-old, it was a career-reviving opportunity, his first movie after more than five years of touring with his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars. That he was so committed was no surprise to those who remember his weight transformations for Requiem for a Dream and Chapter 27, for which he gained 60 pounds. But that doesn’t mean he’s eager to suffer again for another role. “Can’t I just grow a beard?” he says with a grin.
Posted December 20 2013 — 12:00 AM EST
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