Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallee admitted that he had some preconceived notions about the film's star, Matthew McConaughey.
"I wasn't sure about Matthew at first," Vallee told The Hollywood Reporter. "Mr. The Most Handsome Man with Muscles?"
But Vallee said when he finally met the Magic Mike star, he "found a man who really wanted to change perceptions and have new challenges in his career."
Dallas Buyers Club is loosely based on the story of Ron Woodroof, a drug addicted, homophobic womanizer diagnosed with HIV who began smuggling anti-viral medications into the United States from all over the world.
In the film, Woodroof is told he has 30 days to live (he was given six months in real life), and starts taking AZT, the only legal anti-retroviral drug in the United States at the time. But when the AZT almost kills him, he teams up with his doctor, Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner), and an HIV-positive transexual woman named Rayon (Jared Leto) to form the Dallas Buyers Club, which provides members with non-toxic anti-retroviral medications that are illegal in the US.
"He's like Schindler, and McMurphy in Cuckoo's Nest," Vallee said.
"He's like a Scarface who becomes a crusader unbeknown to himself," McConaughey added.
"Matthew was a tinderbox," Garner said. "He gave an even wilder performance in takes that didn't appear onscreen."
Dallas Buyers Club was shot on a $4.75 million budget in just 25 days in 2012.
"I was riding a new way of making a film," McConaughey, 44, said. "There were no lights, one camera, 15-minute takes. There was no, 'Let's discuss this scene, get all the producers here, let's powwow.' We'd just do it. Boom!"
Garner, 41, added, "I've never shot a film this fast."
Dallas Buyers Club was originally scheduled to be released on December 6, but Focus Features moved the date up to November 1. As of November 7, the film has grossed $354,384 in North America, pulling in $260,865 in its opening weekend.
Matthew McConaughey also stars in True Detective, an eight-episode HBO drama series that follows two detectives during their 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. McConaughey plays Rust Cohle, and Woody Harrelson plays Martin Hart. Michelle Monaghan plays Maggie Hart, Martin's wife, who "makes a hard decision that has long-reaching and devastating consequences." The series premieres January 12, 2014.