At the movies

Jared Leto’s back from hiatus in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

 
 
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 21: Actor Jared Leto arrives at the 17th annual Hollywood Film Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 21, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 21: Actor Jared Leto arrives at the 17th annual Hollywood Film Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 21, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Jason Kempin / Getty Images

After transitioning from a Hollywood heartthrob to a critically acclaimed actor, then fronting a rock band with worldwide success, Jared Leto takes on one of his biggest challenges yet, playing a transgender HIV patient in his return to film.

Dallas Buyers Club, out Friday, is based on a real story. Leto, 41, plays Rayon, a HIV-positive transgender woman who helps homophobic drug addict Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) smuggle much needed medication not approved in the United States to other AIDS patients.

Leto, who rose to fame as a complex teenager on 1990s TV series My So-Called Life and has had roles in 1999’s Fight Club, 2000’s Requiem for a Dream and 2002’s Panic Room, recently focused on being the frontman of the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars. Rayon is his first film role in five years. Leto spoke to Reuters.

You went through an extreme physical transformation to convey the symptoms of a HIV-positive character. What was that like?

It’s one of the most challenging roles I’ve ever taken on, physical and emotional. But when I read this, I thought it was a really steep climb, and I wanted to walk down this path. I started at the beginning as far as research goes, listening, meeting with transgender people, learning about the culture. Then [there were] a series of other challenges, from the voice, the dialect, the register, the body center, the movement, the emotional conditions and circumstances. And then there were the heels, the waxing of the body, the removal of the eyebrows, the losing of 30-40 pounds, so there was a lot there, but it was an incredible and fascinating experience.

How tough was the weight loss?

It’s absolutely brutal, as it should be. But the weight loss is really important because it changes the way you walk and talk, the way people treat you and the way you feel about yourself. So it becomes a really essential tool.

Your performance has not only garnered critical acclaim but also has generated awards buzz. How important is it to you?

It’s certainly not important to me to have it, because I never, ever get it. I’m never around. If it was important, I’d make films more often, but it’s absolutely wonderful that it’s happening now. It’s great. It’s incredible to celebrate art and creativity in a film and performance. The people that thumb their noses at that, I don’t understand the bitterness there. The funny thing about art and success is that you fail all the time, you just succeed sometimes.

You fail much more than you win, there’s all kinds of failures all the time, and once in awhile something happens, and you celebrate that.

How does your music inform your acting?

I wasn’t looking to make a film, I hadn’t made a film in five or six years, and I hadn’t read a script in years. That’s a very wild thing to do after you’ve worked so hard in the business, to walk down a different path. But I think it was a really good thing for me to do. I think it made me a better actor. It gave me more to contribute because of the experiences I had with 30 Seconds to Mars and in turn with my life.

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • Celebrity birthdays on Sept 17

    Singer LaMonte McLemore (The Fifth Dimension) is 79. Actress Cassandra Peterson (“Elvira, Mistress of the Dark”) is 63. Comedian Rita Rudner is 61. Movie director Baz Luhrmann is 52. Actor Kyle Chandler is 49. Director-producer Bryan Singer is 49. Rapper Doug E. Fresh is 48. Actor Malik Yoba is 47. Rapper Vinnie (Naughty by Nature) is 44. Rock singer Anastacia is 41. Actress-singer Denyse Tontz is 20.

  • As seen on TV

    'Queen Latifah' promises a ‘juicy' second season

    Queen Latifah is making changes in her daytime talk show for its second season. The biggest, she said, involves her.

  • La vida local

    Mayim Bialik, for one, doesn’t think Ariana Grande is sexy

    Haters gonna hate.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category