Oh, LA Weekly wouldn’t even think of throwing an event without drinks.
I’ll be mouthing off on Twitter at @ShootAManInReno - as usual.
Ready? I am! Here’s what you need to know for the weekend’s programming at FoB’s site.
I’ll be on-site all day, live-tweeting from @ShootAManInReno and showing you plenty of absurdity from Instagram.com/LaurenRothman. Let’s hang out. There will be food trucks, local businesses, all that tantalizing programming, and so much more. See you there! Thanks for having me, LA Times! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #bookfest! FoB can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
There was a time in the mid-2000′s where it seemed Matthew McConaughey’s face was superimposed on every single romantic comedy poster. Who knew that in 2014 Matthew McConaughey would be deftly executing the same domination maneuver by delivering some of the year’s most exquisite dramatic film and television performances? The joke’s on us; Matthew McConaughey’s versatility resulted in a fruitful 2013 Awards Season, which included winning an Academy Award for his performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” as electrician-turned-activist Ron Woodroof.
Losing 30 pounds to play a man living with HIV, McConaughey compensates for his gaunt cheekbones with a big-balled gait and a gift for manipulation as he navigates the bureaucracy of the medical system with his partner, Rayon, a Marc Bolan-obsessed, transgender entrepreneur played by Jared Leto.
McConaughey is garnering a symphony of accolades for his portrayal of Rustin Cohle on HBO’s “True Detective” – the show’s finale crashed HBOGo, HBO’s online subscriber service, rendering every form of social media some department or another of 1-800-FUCK-HBO until service resumed for absolutely everybody.
Taking the role of Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club” meant living as Rayon for the duration of production in Leto’s mind, never even breaking character to go to lunch, “I didn’t eat anyway,” claims Leto. As Rayon, he’s so thin and angular he’s a Picasso roadmap of lesions draped in glam-rock-spiked fashions and retro femme-chic glamour straight out of the Holy Church of Patricia Field, his nails a melange of lengths and colors, and the wigs would make Hedwig (with the film’s paltry $250 hair & makeup budget that won an Academy Award for Best Hair & Makeup) weep.
Leto’s dedication to Rayon resulted in a slew of fascinating award acceptance speeches, culminating in an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. “He was Rayon for the entire shoot,” deadpans co-star, Jennifer Garner. “I didn’t meet Jared Leto until after we’d wrapped.”
Ron Woodroof told writer Craig Borten his personal story over three days in the early 90′s. After testing positive for HIV in 1986, Woodroof strived to understand the fear, hate, and ignorance of living with HIV. Woodroof’s fervent research into alternative treatments led him to word of what New York’s buyers clubs were up to and Woodroof soon began treating himself and others. Exclaims McConaughey, “The doctors weren’t the bad guys. Nobody knew what they ought to do, at that time those were brand new frontiers. So you’ve got Ron Woodroof with a 7th grade education who goes and becomes a damn scientist and an expert on this disease, because everyone else was in the same boat! I was a senior in ’88 and each time I asked, I got a different answer about HIV.”
Borten later wrote the screenplay about his time with Woodroof, a script that was rejected 137 times during a 10 year tangle with development hell before production actually began. Stars kept coming and going, financial issues plagued the picture. “I don’t know, but I would bet that 100 out of those 137…or more than a 100 rejections – didn’t even read the script, they got the one liner,” sneers McConaughey.
“Period piece. AIDS drama. Unsympathetic protagonist. Three things that say, ‘that’s not putting any change in my pocket.’ That’s just practicality in business. ‘How am I going to sell that? That sounds like a fucking downer!’ I’m sure it got passed on many times because of that alone. Well, you know, they made a mistake, and the movie’s actually become a box office success too,” McConaughey crows with pride.
The anarchy and originality of the material that appealed to McConaughey in the first place seemed to be a condition of the production’s 25 days of filming without a lighting crew or grip department. The bad breaks that kept the film in development hell seemed to continually haunt the production when finances dropped out five weeks before filming was slated to begin, sending everyone associated with the film’s financial aspects scrambling. Woodroof himself probably would have said, “shit or get off the pot”; capital restored, the cast and crew convened in Louisiana to film.
After wrapping principal photography, McConaughey was once again in prime physical condition, filming “True Detective” in New Orleans when “Dallas Buyers Club” director Jean-Marc Vallée suggested they film some flashback shots of McConaughey as a heavier Woodroof riding bulls and indulging in the lifestyle of debauchery that Woodroof excelled at pre-HIV. “It was just kinda funny”, McConaughey laughs so hard over this recollection that he stumbles over his words, “people are coming out of this motel and it’s me, and I’m in the air. I’m out there, doing these moves [because it's a sex scene] and all these people who actually paid for motel rooms have gotta be wondering what’s going on. It was a nice effect. We didn’t really have anything to show you [with him] as the size and way he was before he got sick, so we had a glass of wine and shot it in that New Orleans parking lot in 3 hours.”
“Dallas Buyers Club” is a testament to the power of persistence. For being turned down 137 times, this period piece centering around the emergence of HIV in 1986 starring an unlikeable protagonist and his eyeliner-dripping cohort bested enormous performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Bruce Dern, and Chiwetel Ejiofor at the Academy Awards. Nostalgia is a dangerous place to dwell but sometimes we visit the past and palpate it, measuring our progress and allowing for conversations concerning identity, HIV, sexuality, and healthcare without giving off the aura of an after-school special, which this film isn’t.
“It wasn’t a message movie. We kept all the heart and drama in this story. We did it with humor. The script was funny without losing the humanity and sincerity; a lot of credit for that goes to our director, Jean-Marc Vallée. It could have been all violin strings and hardcore drama and he didn’t do that,” McConaughey says with conviction. “My hope was, keep Woodroof a sonofabitch – the humanity’s gonna come out. My hope was, keep him the self-serving businessman – the crusader’s gonna reveal himself.”
Due to deadlines and circumstances beyond my control, I knew I wouldn’t be at SXSW this year; many of my friends from across the globe are there, performing, speaking, and covering the events in various capacities. Many more of of you I’ve never met are there, working and playing. Due to an individual’s actions, the radius around the Mohawk became a zone of dread and panic in the early hours of March 13th, 2014.
Loss is a multifaceted beast. While we await the outcome of the “Midnight Rider” investigation(s), I would like to take this opportunity to thank International Cinematographers Guild – Local 600 and Elizabeth and Richard Jones, Sarah Jones’ parents, for gathering with about 500 of us for a candlelight walk and memorial in Hollywood last week. The sense of camaraderie between Sarah’s friends, family, co-workers and well-wishers was electrifying, and the grief, palpable as it remains, transmogrified to purpose as Richard Jones demanded that no father stand before a crowd under such circumstances ever again.
We’re still filming, writing, and doing what we must do. The shows must go on at SXSW as well. Kindly be sensitive to one another; while Austin must always stay weird, please keep Austin safe.
I’d like to dedicate my Oscars coverage to the memory of Sarah Elizabeth Jones. Without crew members like Sarah, we’d have no reason to mount monolithic award shows like the Oscars in the first place – while we watch television shows and movies from the safety of our homes, analyzing plot points and careening into the depths of True Detective and The Walking Dead, it’s a 5 o’clock call time somewhere.
To my newfound friends and colleagues at the Academy Awards, whether you are security, lighting, rigging, camera operators, on-air talent, etc – please be safe. Look after one another, look after yourselves out there, wherever the next job takes you. Take the Pledge.
Having spent an average of 14 hours a day at the Dolby Theater during set-up week, I’ve been catching up on sleep and putting together drafts for the stories and features I want to share with all of you about my time at the Academy Awards. Thanks for your patience, it was an honor to attend the festivities, I can’t wait for next year.
While I’m exhausted from set-up week and looking forward to hanging out in my bed, I can’t let tonight end without mentioning Sarah Jones. I’m going to write about Sarah over the next few days – until then, please look at the coverage at ABC’s Oscars site. Since many of us wondered if The Academy would honor Sarah on the telecast, this tribute is beyond astounding. Thank you, AMPAS, for honoring her memory.