Jared Leto on How He Lost 40 Lbs for AIDS Role: ‘I Stopped Eating’

Jared Leto lifts his shirt to reveal his shockingly skinny frame – after starving himself for a month to play the role of a HIV-positive transsexual woman in the Dallas Buyers Club. The actor and 30 Seconds To Mars star has shed a drastic amount of weight for the role.  Jared Leto hasn’t made a film in five years, but he lost an astonishing 40 pounds to play a transsexual with AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club”.

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Jared Leto Weight Loss

Dallas Buyers Club

Awful Weight Loss

All the Roles

How did he do it? “I stopped eating,” he told TheWrap at the after-party for the film on King Street in downtown Toronto. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, he said.  “It was 30 or 40 pounds. After a while I stopped counting.”

Ultimately his weight dropped to (gulp) 114 pounds to play Rayon, a transsexual with the HIV virus and then AIDS. Losing that much weight changed him, he said. “It changes the way you walk, the way you sit, the way you think,” he said. Leto had basically stopped making films for the past five years to focus on what is now his primary career as the frontman for the band Thirty Seconds to Mars, which tours and has sold millions of albums to date. “Dallas Buyers Club” was the first film that justified taking a break from that, he said. He told his manager that he would take a break only for a film “he fell in love with,” and this story qualified.

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Dallas Buyers Club

The weight loss of Leto made headlines last year when photos emerged of both lead actors. Both were still slim when they appeared at the premiere but restored to more normal appearances. The performances of both actors are likely to be prominent in the awards conversations this season. He said of the weight loss: ‘Your body goes through weird stages. ‘Sometimes it’s hard to hold on to water. But for me, it’s not about the most weight I can lose, it’s more to represent the character.’

Before and After

At the Street

Jared Leto Story

Casual Look

He went on: ‘Historically, people have done it for pursuit of self, to achieve a meditative state, so I’m hoping for that. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.’ Explaining his involvement in the Jean-Marc Vallée-directed movie – which marks his return to the big screen after 2009’s Mr Nobody – he said: ‘I’m playing a transsexual woman. I didn’t get involved in the project until a few weeks ago, three and a half weeks ago.’

Leto has gained and lossed weight before for film roles, notably piling on the pounds for Chapter 27 back in 2006. The actor did not give details of how much he has lost for the Dallas Buyers Club, but his co-star McConaughey recently told how he has dropped almost 40lbs to play Ron Woodroof, a real-life electrician who smuggled illegal medication after contracting the disease.