Matthew Mcconaughey may have pulled off the performance of his career in Dallas Buyers Club but the actor apparently had to convince the movie's directors that he was the right guy to take on the role of entrepreneurial AIDS victim Ron Woodroof.

Matthew McConaughey Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey Was Far From First Choice To Play Ron Woodroof.

Looking at the series of cheesy rom-coms that McConaughey has padded out his career with, it's fairly easy to see why director Jean-Marc Vallee was at first sceptical about casting the classically handsome, all-American beefcake actor. "I wasn't sure about Matthew at first," said Vallee to THR. "Mr. The Most Handsome Man With Muscles? Then I met him and found a man who really wanted to change perceptions and have new challenges in his career."

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Before he had even been cast in the role, McConaughey set about shedding the weight he needed to lose to accurately portray the HIV-positive, Texan electrician. The gaunt Magic Mike star was a shadow of his former self after losing 40 pounds but this dramatic transformation provided the perfect frame for a knock-out performance.

The star has received nothing but praise since the film was released and is a strong contender for the lead actor prize at the upcoming Oscars. He certainly wasn't first choice for the role though, and not even second either. Twenty years in the pipeline, the filmmakers didn't want to take any chances with their low-budget indie flick as it was hard enough just getting financing.

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling Could Have Taken The Role Of Ron Woodroof.

"It got rejected 87 times," revealed producer Robbie Brenner. "They said: 'AIDS isn't hot-button anymore. It's period. Script's great, but it's been around too long.' " It took Brenner five years after first reading the script to sign up for the producer role as seemingly, no one wanted to go for a film about two guys and their fight against AIDS.

Brenner explained that Brad Pitt was the first actor pencilled in for the role until he "fell off." In 2008, Ryan Gosling was lined up for Ron's part but he deserted the role, as did Gael Garcia Bernal in the role Jared Leto ultimately took.

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt Was The First Actor To Be Linked To The 'Dallas Buyers Club' Lead.

However, after McConaughey was cast, the tables were turned and the filmmakers needed to fight to keep him onboard. "We wanted $8 million for a 40-day shoot. But the financiers got scared," said Brenner, adding "Six weeks from shooting, they pulled out. Rachel called me from New Orleans literally crying, 'Robbie, I'm so sorry, we have to close the doors.' I called Matthew's agent and said, 'The financing just fell through, Matthew's lost 40 pounds, can we push the movie [to spring]?' "

They were told that McConaughey had a movie commitment in January and that "It's now or never."

Jared Leto
Jared Leto's HIV-Positive Transvestite Character, Rayon, Was Going To Be Played Be Gael Garcia Bernal.

"A week before shooting, we still didn't have the check yet," said Vallee. "I called Matthew." Says McConaughey, "He said, 'We start next Tuesday; I'll be in New Orleans if you will.' I said: 'I'm there. Let's just go do it.'" With $780,000 of last-minute financing, the shoot was a bare-bones affair, and the team had to use candles to light a strip-club scene and headed to Home Depot when an expensive fluorescent light broke. "When the cameraman wanted a higher-angle shot, he put lifts in his shoes," revealed Brenner.

Luckily, the film was made and rocketed to the top of must-see lists worldwide before making a healthy box office entrance. Not only is the movie up for Best Picture but McConaughey and Leto could clean up the lead actor and supporting actor prizes. They darn tootin' deserve it!