BEVERLY HILLS – I’d seen the pictures. I'd seen the news reports.  I’d heard about Matthew McConaughey’s amazing weight loss for his role in the new independent film “The Dallas Buyer’s Club” from all aspects of social media.  It was another thing, however, to shake the hand of a man that looked like he’d lost half of himself since we last talked just five months before.  

Frail and seemingly skinny to the bone, McConaughey has undergone the physical transformation to play a man diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1986.  The film also stars Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto and began shooting on Monday. During our conversation, McConaughey revealed it’s just a five-week shoot and that he’s lost a staggering 38 pounds and his current weight is 143 pounds.  It’s an incredible achievement for the 43-year-old Texan, but, on the lighter side of it all, he knows exactly what he’s going to eat once it’s over: a po boy.  

Of course, if he can’t find one, a cheeseburger will do just fine as well.  McConaughey smiles while reciting his dream meal, “I will have some 70 percent beef, 30 percent fat ground beef, maybe a half pound cheeseburger with another three types of cheese. I'll prepare it all 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, 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 shared his wish after we’d spent some time discussing his weight loss and his acclaimed performances this past year in the box office hit “Magic Mike” and the art house wonder “Bernie.”  No joke, McConaughey is a legitimate contender for a best supporting actor nomination for “Mike,” a recognition that would be a welcome highlight as he ends his 20th year as a professional actor. You can watch our insightful conversation which touches on a possible “Magic Mike” sequel embedded at the top of this post or within the Q&A below.


Q: You have sort of undergone a physical transformation for your next role.  You just told me you're about to start shooting on Monday and I'm curious how much weight have you lost and how are you actually feeling right now?

I've lost 38 pounds.  I feel good now.  Overall, probably got 35 percent less energy, but there's been plateaus, like getting past 170 was really hard, but then once you get [to] 167 the next seven come off easy.  Getting passed 160, really hard.  But then you fly down to 150.  Getting passed 150 was really hard and then, bam!  Got down to 143 and that's where I want to be.  So, once you get passed the plateau, your body seems to understand, ‘O.K., this is where we're leaving now, this is where we are’ and so the energy rises.

Q: In terms of how you lost the weight, was it all diet?  We're you also exercising more as well?  

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.  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.

Q: And just one last question on this, by doing this has your appetite gone down?  Are you less hungry?

Oh, yeah.  Even if I'm lying to myself, you know.  Your organs [and] muscles shrink, your organs shrink [and] my stomach has shrunk as well.  So, as much as I can't wait to have that cheeseburger on the day [shooting ends] it'll probably be damn hard to eat the whole thing.

When that day comes, and it's coming, I don't want to be doing this interview at a Pizza Hut buffet, you know?  I choose to pick my places where there's less good smells and temptations, you know?  That's really nice.

With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios and has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times. A co-founder of HitFix, Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.