If you’re still steaming over Jared Leto’s omission of the word “transgender” from his Academy Award acceptance speech in 2014, the latest revelation related to his Oscar-winning role in “Dallas Buyers Club” will likely cause you to either boil over, or maybe cool down.
For the uninitiated, Leto played “Rayon,” a drug addicted, transgender woman whose character was invented for the film version of the real-life story of Ron Woodroof, a homegrown AIDS activist who distributed lifesaving but illegal medication through an underground network.
Director Jean-Marc Vallées and the film’s star, Matthew McConaughey, tell Rolling Stone neither man met Leto as the man he was, until long after filming wrapped; he lived his entire time on the set as his transgender character. And even before: “He was dressed as a woman,” Vallée said about a Skype chat he had with Leto prior to filming,, “and he was hitting on me. And he kept it up for 25 minutes.”
“He tried to steal things from me,” says McConaughey. “Literally, my pocketknife, lighters, et cetera.” For Vallée, trying to direct an actor who wouldn’t acknowledge he was acting was disconcerting.
“He got me out of my comfort zone,” says Vallée, who wasn’t even sure what pronoun was appropriate to use for Leto. “I didn’t know how to address him or her because he was such a lady. He was such a girl, and he was sexy!” At one point, Vallée recalls, McConaughey — also doing a certain degree of Method work as his homophobic-but-learning character — looked at Leto shimmying onto the set and said, “I don’t know whether to kick your ass or fuck it!”
The day the film wrapped, Leto shared a single out-of-character moment with McConaughey, but didn’t let Vallée meet Jared until months later.
In Leto’s speech to accept the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, he said he dedicated it to “the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS, and to [anyone] who has ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love. Tonight I stand in front of the world here with you and for you.”
But for some reason, he didn’t utter the word, “transgender.”