Jared Leto Discusses Emotional and Physical Challenges for Role as Transsexual Woman with AIDS


(photo by Terry Richardson. More here)

Jared Leto is playing a transsexual in his new film The Dallas Buyers Club.

Leto recently spoke to ET about the project:

In Dallas Buyers Club, Leto plays a transsexual named Rayon and tells ET the process of transforming into her has been life changing. "It's a lot of work to be a pretty little girl. I have a newfound respect for women in general," he said at The IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards.

"I waxed my entire body, including my eyebrows. I've lost a lot of weight because I'm playing a young person with AIDS. It's been challenging but really inspiring too." Leto told me that it was the opportunity to tell this story that lured him back to acting.

"I haven't made a movie in 5 years. I thought it was a beautifully written script [and] a wonderful character, who I just fell in love with. I figured if I was going to come back and act again, this was the one to do it."

The movie also stars Matthew McConaughey, who has also lost much weight for the film. Here's its synopsis on IMDB:

Loosely based on the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a drug taking, women loving, homophobic man who, in 1986 was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS and given thirty days to live. He started taking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved AZT, the only legal drug available in the U.S, which brought him to the brink of death. To survive, he smuggled non-toxic, anti-viral medications from all over the world, but yet still illegal in the U.S. Other AIDS patients sought out his medications forgoing hospitals, doctors and AZT. With the help of his Doctor, Eve Saks and a fellow patient, Rayon, Ron unintentionally created the Dallas Buyers Club, the first of dozens which would form around the country, providing its paying members with these alternative treatments. The clubs, growing in numbers and clientele, were brought to the attention of the FDA and pharmaceutical companies which waged an all out war on Ron. "DBC" follows Ron Woodroof's personal fight to survive which lasted 2191 days when he died on September 12, 1992, six years after he was diagnosed with the HIV virus.


  1. Grover Underwood says

    the whole no eyebrows thing is more disturbing to me than the weight loss; just looks odd

  2. Pete N SFO says

    I think the notion of people starving themselves for a movie role is perverse.

    And worse is the media always heralding it as some tortured devotion to art… isn’t there enough body-dysmorphia to go around already?

    Why can’t they CGI it, for crissakes.

  3. BobN says

    “Why can’t they CGI it, for crissakes.”

    Why can’t they leave it to their acting, the make-up artist, and our imaginations?

    Acting is the art of conveying something, not restricting calories.

  4. SayTheTruth says

    This guy is damaging his body. Once he gorged to gain weight until being unrecognizably fat. Now he’s fasting like an anorexic. Your body isn’t a canvas or a paper you throw away and begin again with a new one, there are certain consequences with the extremes, no money, fame or recognition can give you back health when it was tampered with. I prefer the actors who ACT instead of those who need to try to BE their characters to convey credibility.

  5. Randy says

    Yikes. I respect doing what it takes to get into a role, but this weight loss looks dangerous. I hope it’s just some quirk of sucking in his stomach and wearing oversized pants that makes it look that extreme.

  6. Stefan says

    I agree with what most are saying here. Part of the art of acting when playing a real person is conveying that person’s essence. Meryl Streep has played Margaret Thatcher and Julia Child equally convincingly. It’s very hard to take your personality and transform it to match that of another person, and to do that in a way that convinces broad audiences of the authenticity. It’s relatively easy to transform your appearance, though unfortunately the consequences can often be much more dire. There is no healthy way to gain and lose that much weight.

  7. melvin says

    Regardless, this is one I will have to see. I was amazed at Mr. Nobody and if this is what finally made him act again, so be it.

  8. johnny says

    You really can’t “act” or CGI an actor’s body type down to anorexia levels. It’s physically impossible (with acting) and looks fake (with CGI). The best way to make an actor look like that is to simply have them lose the weight. As long as it’s done with a physician’s care, proper diet and vitamins, there’s really not that much danger. And it’s very easy to get back up to your best weight later.

    It’s called method acting, been happening for decades now, a person immerses themselves into the part, mentally AND physically.

    There is far more danger in gaining for a role, you have cholesterol, heart issues, etc. and becoming obese is VERY easy to do with make-up and clothing and a fat suit. Think of the Monica character on Friends, she did the whole fat thing with make-up and it was very convincing.

  9. bambinoitaliano says

    A great acting in itself is emotional abuse. Far more health risk than an occasion diet to gain or lose weight. Hence many actors could not sustain a relationships.

  10. Michael W. says

    The CGI artists did a convincing job of turning Chris Evans into a 90 lb. weakling for the beginning of Captain America…

  11. Derrick from Philly says

    I’ve been told that all American film actors are underweight (when they’re young). Supposedly, you look about 10 pounds heavier than what you really are when on film. That’s why if anybody ever tries to photograph me I will kill them beforehand.

  12. Joseph Singer says

    Please don’t make me go all pedantic on you. It’s absolutely wrong to write HIV virus. You’re saying Human Immunodeficiency Virus virus. Don’t do it!

    Also, hot water heater is redundant and wrong.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  13. SayTheTruth says

    @ Michael W, well said, nowadays you can do incredibly convincing tricks with CGI. They also used a body double and it went flawlessly IMO. I guess is more expensive than starving a “method” actor though.
    Some people believe that to show emotion you have to feel emotion, reality is some people can fake it pretty well, even with tears and all. But it’s like a given gift, some are naturals, others need to compel inner emotions to be credible. For the last category I assume the toll must be tough though.