Jared Leto: ‘I Didn’t Know If I’d Ever Make a Film Again’

"Dallas Buyers Club" star Jared Leto
"Dallas Buyers Club" star Jared Leto

Ever since "Dallas Buyers Club" premiered in Toronto two months ago, the Oscar buzz has been building for Jared Leto, who plays a drug-addicted transgender woman with AIDS and a way with blush and lipstick.

Leto's Rayon partners with Matthew McConaughey's rodeo rider-turned-activist Ron Woodroof to bring potentially healing but illegal drugs to HIV-positive Texans in the wild west of the epidemic, the 1980s. However, the Thirty Seconds to Mars musician, 41, best known for TV’s "My So-Called Life" and Darren Aronofsky’s "Requiem for a Dream," hadn't acted for film in six years. While waiting in the wings to play a gig in Frankfurt on a successful world tour, the singer-songwriter paused to tell Yahoo Movies how Rayon lured him back in front of the camera.

Question: Jared, what reservations did you have taking this role as Rayon?
Jared Leto
: None. None.

Q: Then why the long absence from movies?
J.L.
: I had some hesitation about making a film. I hadn't made one in six years. I didn't know if I'd ever make a film again. [He takes a deep breath.] I'd made films for a number of years and I was pursuing other things, mostly Thirty Seconds to Mars. We’ve had more success than we ever dreamed possible, playing in arenas and stadiums around the world and making our dreams a reality. I was content and challenged and inspired and doing a lot of work with film. I was behind the camera a bit. I made a short film, a documentary, music videos, commercials.

[Related: Thirty Seconds to Mars Talk Oscars at iHeart]

Q: So, acting was never your first love?
J.L.: I started out studying to be an artist and painter. That's what I thought I would be until I discovered photography and film while I was in arts school. I was at the School of Visual Arts at the time and quickly dropped out because I wanted to make art. I was too impatient to remain at the school.

Q: What helped change your mind and accept the part in 'Dallas Buyers Club?'
J.L.: In some ways it was a test. I wanted to see if there was anything left in that world for me. I also fell in love with the role, with Rayon. It was an incredibly gifted group of people and I wanted to be part of it. I suppose in some ways I was seduced and wanted to experiment and see what it would be like to return to the screen.

Watch Jared Leto in action in a clip from "Dallas Buyers Club":

Q: Did playing Rayon change the way you look at women?
J.L.: I have a newfound respect for what it takes to be a lady — and sometimes it takes a village. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it: the waxing, the heels, the eyelashes, the wigs the skirts, the tights, off with the eyebrows, and on with the eyebrows.

Q: Was Matthew McConaughey's involvement a factor?
J.L.: McConaughey was a big contributor. It was a definite plus that he was starring in the film. He's a guy who's been doing some phenomenal work. What an opportunity to get in the ring with somebody of his caliber. I thought that he and I could do something special.

Q: The characters the two of you play are opposites, yet complementary Rayon's flamingo pink, Ron's green.
J.L.:
I think they are definitely on opposites sides of the color wheel. They’re definitely flip sides of the coin. The thing of being on either side of the coin is that they both are very much a part of each other. They do speak to each other in a really polarizing way: the way they interact, the way they connect. They’re from completely different sides of humanity: One is a f--king cowboy from Texas, the other is a drag queen. In some ways it’s like the movie "Midnight Cowboy," with Dustin Hoffman's street urchin and Jon Voight's slightly naïve cowboy. The characters are so different they somehow fit.

[Related: Matthew McConaughey Talks Sharing Jared Leto's Pink Robe]

Q: When we talked to McConaughey in Toronto, he had high praise for you: "He got rid of all the s--ts and giggles, all the props, all the pansie-ations. He got rid of all those frilly things that would be legitimate." And we observed that there was a scene where Ron puts on Rayon's signature pink bathrobe reflecting how far his character has come. Can you comment?
J.L.:
There's a parallel moment where I wear Ron's suit to see my father. The first and only time that I wear men's clothing in the whole film and it's Ron's oversized suit. In that scene, because I had been wearing women's clothes for so long, I felt like I was in drag.

Q: Did playing Rayon change the way you look at women?
J.L.:
I have a newfound respect for what it takes to be a lady — and sometimes it takes a village. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it: the waxing, the heels, the eyelashes, the wigs the skirts, the tights, off with the eyebrows, and on with the eyebrows.

Q: You must have movie offers flooding in. What’s your next step?
J.L.:
My next step is on to the stage in Frankfurt in front of tens of thousands of people to play an incredible show with the rest of the guys touring Europe and then back to the states. I don’t know what the future holds as far as making films. There is so much that I love about film, and I'm always excited to see a great film. I'm really thankful to have played this part. It changed my life in many ways.

Watch Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner talk "Dallas Buyers Club":