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Dallas Buyers Club part of 'The McConnaissance'

Wednesday 19 Feb 2014 5:24 p.m.

One of the most talked-about actors in Hollywood right now is Matthew McConaughey.

His latest movie, Dallas Buyers Club, opens in New Zealand tomorrow. It's already won him a Golden Globe for Best Actor. Now McConaughey is up for the ultimate acting accolade.

Once upon a time McConaughey made his millions with movies like How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days and Sahara. Now he's winning Golden Globes, shedding 23kg to play an HIV-positive bull rider in Dallas Buyers Club.

"I don't see it as much as a 'then' and a 'now'," he says. "I definitely changed a gear and started making some different choices, but it all seems like part of the evolution to me."

That evolution's also seen him starring in HBO's new critically acclaimed show, True Detective.

In amongst the bull-riding, the movie is the true story of Ron Woodroof, who in 1985 tested HIV-positive. He found he couldn't get the drugs he needed, so he started importing them from Mexico, for himself and others.

McConaughey remembers well the paranoia around AIDS at the time, back when he was a teenager.

"I remember going to doctors going, 'Give me the straight dope. I am heterosexual. I am not doing drugs. I am not having sex with women doing drugs. I am not having sex with prostitutes. Give me some numbers – protected sex, unprotected sex.' And there was real fear, as no one had the same answer."

He incorporated that paranoia into his role as a homophobic cowboy.

"I don't know how legitimate the paranoia was, but there was real fear."

His performance now sees him up for a Best Actor Oscar, a far cry from his days as a romcom star.

"I wanted to shake it up. I wanted to find some things that scared me a little."

Critics are calling McConaughey's career change 'The McConnaissance'. He'll find out at next month's Oscars whether it will lead him to the biggest prize in acting.

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