Matthew McConaughey and Jean-Marc Valee Were the Third Actor/Director Duo to Try and Make ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

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Dallas Buyers Club may not win an Oscar in March, but those tied to the film should take great pleasure in making it to the Academy Awards after a 20 year roller coaster ride. The making of the film came together against what seemed like all odds possible. A lot of credit has been given to James Schamus, who at the time was the CEO of Focus Films and decided to buy the film betting it would be his last great art-film. He was right….

The movie, however, could have been made plenty of times with a different lead actor/director combination. During the mid-90’s Dennis Hopper was attached to the film with Woody Harrelson as the lead, but nobody would green light it. In 1996, producer Robbie Brenner got a sniff of the movie, but didn’t sign on to produce it until 2001. At that time he talked to big-time director Marc Forster and set up a meeting with Brad Pitt as the lead. Still, no one wanted to make a movie about two guys who die of AIDS, no matter how inspiring it may be. Fast forward to 2008, director Craig Gillespie was set to direct Ryan Gosling in the role. Once again, nothing.

That takes us to present day. Brenner, who stayed attached to the film, showed it to Marc-Jean Vallee and he was instantly in love. However, he wasn’t in love with Matthew McConaughey in the lead. Regardless, McConaughey started losing weight without even being confirmed for the role. It still wasn’t smooth sailing after Vallee and McConaughey were locked up. Financers got cold feet and ultimately the movie had to be done with close to a million dollars of financing from McConaughey and in a ridiculous 25 days. Those who believed in the movie pushed forward. With McConaughey and c0-star Jared Leto risking serious health risks from weight loss they pushed through and ultimately made a great movie. No other film at the Oscars will feel a sense of pride than this crew.

Image via Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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