By this point, you've probably seen the scary skinny photos of Matthew McConaughey, who has shed 38 pounds for his role as an AIDS patient in the movie "The Dallas Buyers Club," which he started filming this week. Now, for the first time, the actor is speaking out about his dramatic weight loss, and reveals how he's feeling having reached his goal weight of a shocking 143 pounds.
"I feel good now," the 43-year-old tells HitFix. "Overall, [I] probably got 35 percent less energy. But the tough part is there have been plateaus. Getting past 170 was really hard, but then once you get 167, the next seven come off easy. Getting past 160, really hard, but then you fly down to 150. Getting past 150 was really hard and then, bam! Got down to 143 and that's where I want to be. So, once you get past the plateau, your body seems to understand, 'OK, this is where we're leaving now, this is where we are,' and so the energy rises."
McConaughey, who is nearly 6 feet tall, says that through the process he discovered that his diet had more of an impact on his weight loss than his exercise regime did. "I'm doing cardio but I'll tell you what, the more I've learned is — and I think it comes with age, too — is it's 90 percent diet," he explained. "It's 90 percent amount and then what you're eating because right now I'm not losing any more weight if I burn 1,500 calories — two hours of cardio in an afternoon — or if I don't. It doesn't matter. It's a matter of how much I eat or how little I eat."
The actor notes his appetite has drastically decreased throughout his slim down, and when the movie wraps and he can return to his old diet, he'll proceed with caution. "The organs shrink, so my stomach has shrunk as well," he says. "So as much as I can't wait to have that cheeseburger, on that day, it'll be damn hard to eat the whole thing." But make no mistake — he is already planning exactly how that burger will be prepared. "I will have some 70 percent beef, 30 percent fat ground beef, maybe a half pound cheeseburger with another three types of cheese," he shares. "I'll prepare it all [myself] and I'll make sure that it takes three hours just to prepare. I'm going to have buns with butter on both sides, toasted and grilled. I'm going to melt the cheese on the top bun [and add] Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise. I want kosher dill pickles sliced nice and thin, diced white onions, slightly grilled until they get almost hard, and some thin jalapeno slices. And then I'm just going to sit back and let the [expletive] just drop on the ground."
McConaughey arrived in New Orleans earlier this week to start shooting the indie flick, and in photos of him taken at the airport he appeared gaunt with his pants hanging off his frail frame. Over the summer, while talking about his weight-loss challenge for the film, he told Larry King, "I should not look healthy by the time I'm doing (the role)." As for what inspired him to go to such an extreme, he added, "I just kinda dared myself. I haven't been this light since I was in the ninth grade. I'm kind of looking at it as sort of a cleanse, it's a bit of a spiritual cleanse, mental cleanse."
"The Dallas Buyers Club," which also stars Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto, is expected to be released in 2013.