New shopper at 'Dallas Buyer's Club'? Mathew McConaughey
EXCLUSIVE: There are few movie projects in Hollywood that have had as as many big-name supporters -- and stops and starts -- as "The Dallas Buyer's Club."
A 1980s-set true story about a trafficker in illegal AIDS drugs, the drama has attracted some of the movie world's biggest names over the past decade.
Brad Pitt was interested in starring in it for years. Top-flight filmmaker Marc Forster had at one time been set to direct it. "Babel" scribe Guillermo Ariaga once wrote a draft of the script, back in 2002. The producers of "Children of Men," Strike Entertainment, have long been on board to produce it.
In 2008, the project seemed to get new life when reports had Ryan Gosling coming on to star, with his "Lars & the Real Girl" director, Craig Gillespie, behind the camera. That didn't take either.
Now the project has a new A-lister and an emerging director who will again try to put it over the top: Matthew McConaughey is attached to star in the movie, the actor confirms, while "The Young Victoria" filmmaker Jean Marc Vallee will direct it.
The project fits with McConaughey's desire to delve further into serious roles -- he stars in the upcoming legal drama "The Lincoln Lawyer" -- and, as a bonus, is set in the actor's native Texas.
Once a Universal project, the film is now making a go of it as an independent. "It's not exactly the movie that studios are throwing money at these days," McConaughey told 24 Frames.
What's so appealing about "Dallas Buyer's Club"? Well, probably the same thing that's made it so difficult to get produced: a juicy but commercially challenging story.
The movie tells of Ron Woodroof, a heterosexual Dallas electrician who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, during some of the darkest days of the disease. Doctors gave him just a few months to live, but he refused to accept their prognosis. Instead, Woodroof created a smuggling operation for alternative treatments, then illegal, and got them into the hands of as many AIDS patients as he could. He wound up living six more years and saved or prolonged the lives of countless others.
McConaughey hopes he can be the man who finally gets Woodroof's tale told. "It's a great script and a great story," he said. "And I think it can be a great movie."
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Matthew McConaughey in "The Lincoln Lawyer." Credit: Saeed Adyani/Lionsgate Films