McConaughey lost some 50 pounds (23 kg) for the role, looking
gaunt as real-life crusader Ron Woodroof, a cowboy who fought
the U.S. government during the early AIDS epidemic of the 1980s
to provide patients with medicines he imported from foreign
"First off, I want to thank God, because that's who I look up
to," the actor said accepting the award. "He's graced my life
with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other
human hand. He has shown me that it's a scientific fact that
The win is the first Academy Award for McConaughey, 44, once
known primarily as the handsome leading man in romantic comedies
such as "The Wedding Planner" and "How to Lose a Guy in 10
"Whatever it is we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to
and whoever it is we're chasing, to that I say, 'Amen,' to that
I say, 'Alright, alright, alright,' McConaughey said adding his
trademark exclamation that drew laughter from the audience, "to
that I say just keep living."
In recent years, McConaughey has sought more serious roles,
winning critical acclaim for movies including "The Lincoln
Lawyer" and "Mud," and the HBO TV series "True Detective."
[to top of second column]
As Woodroof, the actor brought to life a man who evolved from
detestable bigot to a lifeline for fellow AIDS patients, many of
them gay or transgender. At the same time, he fought for his own
life at a time when doctors were scrambling to find effective
treatments for the fatal disease.
McConaughey's passion for the role helped bring "Dallas Buyers Club"
to the big screen after 20 years of setbacks, when other actors
dropped out and major Hollywood studios rejected it.
The actor, himself a Texan, helped bring together financing and
embarked on his extreme weight loss to force the movie into
production. His role has brought him more than a dozen awards,
including a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award.
The film was made for about $5 million, a tiny sum by Hollywood
standards, and filmed in 25 days.
McConaughey beat rival Oscar nominees Bruce Dern for "Nebraska,"
Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Wolf of Wall Street," Chiwetel Ejiofor
for "12 Years a Slave," and Christian Bale for "American Hustle."
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Eric
Kelsey, editing by Jill Serjeant and Sandra Maler)
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