How Matthew McConaughey forced himself to lose 3.5st for Dallas Buyers Club role

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Matthew McConaughey forced himself to lose 3.5st for HIV positive Dallas Buyers Club role because he feared being ’embarrassed’ by public reaction

He lost an astounding 3.5st for his role as HIV patient Ron Woodroof in the Academy Award-winning Dallas Buyers Club.

And Matthew McCounaughey has now spoken of the discipline required to follow a strict diet and exercise regime to reach and maintain such a low weight for the film. 

The actor, 51, admitted his main motivation was fearing that viewers wouldn’t buy into his character and the feeling of ’embarrassment’ that would bring.

Hard work: Matthew McCounaughey has spoken of the discipline required to follow a strict diet and exercise regime to reach and maintain such a low weight for Dallas Buyers Club

The Texas-born actor survived on an eating plan of Diet Coke, egg whites and a piece of chicken a day to slim down to a 9.5st.

Speaking on The High Performance Podcast, Matthew recalled: ‘First off, I look like this [referring to his body type now] in that role, you have checked out of the movie two frames in. “Oh bullshit. He doesn’t have HIV stage four.” So I didn’t do my job, therefore I am embarrassed.

‘So the fear and dislike of being embarrassed is up there at pretty much the top for reasons to stay disciplined for me. 

‘Again, we’re going to bring up delayed gratification. There’s something to actually, this, that sacrifice is nice, right, “This is supposed to be hard.”

Concerns: The actor, 51, admitted his main motivation was fearing that viewers wouldn't buy into his character and the feeling of 'embarrassment' that would bring (pictured Jan 2020)

Concerns: The actor, 51, admitted his main motivation was fearing that viewers wouldn’t buy into his character and the feeling of ’embarrassment’ that would bring (pictured Jan 2020)

However the longer Matthew trained, the easier it became, he said: ‘But you start, if you stick with it, the longer you stick with it, you start to get kind of a sort of honor and pride with it, and it becomes easier because you’re like, and I even illusion, when I lost all that weight for Dallas Buyers Club, I became kind of arrogant to the family. 

Revealing the regime game him a certain level of smugness over his family, he said: ‘I’d be like, Oh, y’all going out to eat pizza. Huh, shit. You know what I mean? I would laugh at myself and I was like, almost like my king on my own island. Like, look at me, I’m being so disciplined. My wife would give me hell about it, but we had fun with it. 

‘And I’ll say this man, it’s really, you got to commit to the original choice. Hardest part about working out is what? Putting on your damn shoes and getting out the door. Hardest part is making the decision and when to make it. 

Wow: The Texas-born actor survived on an eating plan of Diet Coke, egg whites and a piece of chicken a day to slim down to a 9.5st

Wow: The Texas-born actor survived on an eating plan of Diet Coke, egg whites and a piece of chicken a day to slim down to a 9.5st

Speaking on The High Performance Podcast, Matthew recalled: 'First off, I look like this [referring to his body type now] in that role, you have checked out of the movie two frames in'

Speaking on The High Performance Podcast, Matthew recalled: ‘First off, I look like this [referring to his body type now] in that role, you have checked out of the movie two frames in’

‘And if you initially set out and go, this is not negotiable. And I know I’m going to go down the line and it’s going to get a little wobbly and I’m going to try and argue myself out of this. Don’t listen to that voice. 

‘It’s very clear this is what we’re doing. Lock in on that initials and the rest is pretty damn easy because you’re not negotiating. It’s the negotiating with ourselves, that’s the fatigue. That’s the stress. That’s the well. I can’t stand it. 

‘No, you can stand it. If you go, “I don’t have another choice. I’m not giving myself another option, period.” Then it’s like, okay, survival mechanism kicks in and let’s go, what do you know?’

The longer Matthew trained, the easier it became, he said: 'But you start, if you stick with it, the longer you stick with it, you start to get kind of a sort of honor and pride with it

The longer Matthew trained, the easier it became, he said: ‘But you start, if you stick with it, the longer you stick with it, you start to get kind of a sort of honor and pride with it

Matthew also spoke of how he takes 10 days to weigh up whether or not he wants to do a new project, before confirming that he will take part.   

He said: ‘So what I’ll do is say, I’ll get a script and character. I really want to do it. I’ll start out with my yeses and my nos. Right.’

‘And then I’ll go to my wife, doing it. Starts in January. Doing it, get ready. So we’re going to be over in Mauritius for four months and we’re going and there we go. And I got to do it. And I sit in that, in that state of mind, fully convinced yes for 10 days. 

‘And I been measuring myself for that 10 days. Well, how many times did you start seeing the world through the eyes of this character, jotting down notes, you’re already getting creatively turned on.’

Decision time! Matthew also spoke of how he takes 10 days to weigh up whether or not he wants to do a new project, before confirming that he will take part (pictured in the film)

Decision time! Matthew also spoke of how he takes 10 days to weigh up whether or not he wants to do a new project, before confirming that he will take part (pictured in the film)

‘Two other opportunities come up in January that you already immediately said, nope, not doing it because I’m doing this other thing. That’s a good reason to usually say yes, let’s do it.’ 

In an interview at the time with Radio Times, he said that losing the weight forced him to find new ways to entertain himself – rather than just going out for dinner. 

Matthew said: ‘I had to relearn how to entertain myself, because I wasn’t going outside, I wasn’t going to dinner, I wasn’t going to social places.

‘I was writing so much more, reading so much more. It ended up being this really fun adventure, internally.’

But his dramatic weight didn’t come without side effects, as Matthew admitted: ‘As soon as I hit 143lb [10 stone 3lb], I started losing my eyesight.’

The 6ft tall actor then looked into the condition and found the same had happened to the IRA hunger strikers in Northern Ireland 20 years ago.

He insists that losing weight was ‘honestly not that difficult’ but learning to re-progamme his life was the toughest challenge.

New tricks: In an interview at the time with Radio Times, he said that losing the weight forced him to find new ways to entertain himself - rather than just going out for dinner

New tricks: In an interview at the time with Radio Times, he said that losing the weight forced him to find new ways to entertain himself – rather than just going out for dinner

He added: ‘You have to reprogramme all of your habits, and the days get so long. You think it must be lunchtime already, and it’s only 9.30 in the morning,’ he says.

‘I kept a diary of my nutrition the whole way through, and it is something I will probably share at some point because it was quite the adventure.’

Revealing he locked himself away in his Texas mansion to avoid the sun and maintain his pale complexion, he put himself through a virtual winter.

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