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Matthew McConaughey backstage at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards

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The 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards took place on Jan. 18, 2014, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Here is what this Screen Actors Guild Award winner said backstage in the Screen Actors Guild Awards press room.

MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

("Dallas Buyers Club")

You seem to be having a lot of fun at these awards shows and in your career right now. Can you comment on that?

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the work I’ve been doing — more fun than I’ve ever been having. I mean, I talked about it a little bit tonight about that experience of where we get to go as actors. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. You look for it. There’s no guarantee. I’ve also been fortunate to work with some people, directors who’ve had a singular vision, putting together stories that I was very supported by.

The fun I’ve been having with the [awards] circuit is that if I wasn’t having fun, take me behind the wood shed and straighten me out. I get to have a career at this. I’ve been doing it 22 years.

We all get to do this. It’s a privilege to do what we do. And we don’t do it for the results. We do it for the process and the enjoyment of it. But then the results come, and I’m sure going to keep my head and heart high, if that’s coming and say, “Thank you,” because it’s a great moment in my career. I’m sure they’re going to enjoy it.

And I have great stories and experiences, specifically with “Dallas Buyers Club.” You know, the fact that it took 20 years to get made, the fact that the right people came together when nobody else wanted to make it. So I have the battle-wounds stories that I will never get tired of sharing.

You’ve said in interviews that when you lost all that weight for “Dallas Buyers Club,” you got sharper mentally. Do you still feel the effects of that?

I’m trying to hang on to it as much as I can. On a very literal sense, I was hungry for knowledge, for research, for information, trying to get to the core of my man. So yeah, I’ve tried to hang on to that as much as I can if possible. There’s a real benefit to being hungry, interested, curious — an insatiable appetite for that, not just in the literal sense physically, but mentally and spiritually. I don’t know if I chose it or if it just happened, but I noticed that it was a real asset of the idea of losing the physical bounds.

And as I said, all the power and energy I lost from the neck down, I gained from the neck up. And in an odd and ironic way, I put myself in a position to do what Ron Woodroof was doing: spending 24/7 researching this disease that he didn’t know anything about and becoming an expert on it. So I became an expert on my man as much as I could, as an actor. Yeah, it’s still with me quite a bit. I have certain days where I miss him.

I was getting up at 4 a.m. It didn’t matter if I got to bed at 2:30 a.m., like clockwork. I love those two hours where the world is silent and just wrote. And now, I like to sleep a little past 4, for sure.

What was the hardest part of losing weight for your role in “Dallas Buyers Club”? What kinds of foods did you crave when you had to starve yourself to lose weight?

The hard part is making the decision to do it. And I have a term that I apply to my life often: “When faced with the inevitable, get relative.” So when I knew I needed to lose the weight to be Ron Woodroof, I knew that if I did not, I would not be doing my job. I would be embarrassed. I knew I was going to do it, so then it was easy.

So then it was like, “I’m doing it. I need to structure my life and my meals to do so.” I had support from my family as well. They didn’t put temptations in front of me. I didn’t go to my favorite steakhouse and have a conversation. I wasn’t going to put myself in front of that. So I became a nice little hermit and enjoyed it as much as I could. I had to entertain myself with everything Ron Woodroof.

What I found — I said this the other night; I don’t know if people got the joke, but it’s really true — tapioca pudding. We were in New Orleans. I found the tiniest little antique spoon, those little bitty spoons. So I would eat it with that, so it would last longer. Oh, it was great, when I’d sit there and write from 4 to 6, with my tapioca pudding! I could make it last an hour.

And then when I got done, I went and made the ultimate cheeseburger. And it took me 45 minutes to prepare it after it was cooked. And the friend I was eating with had finished his dessert before I took my first bite.

You’ve been knocking it out of the park lately with “Mud,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “True Detective.” Can you talk about how you choose your projects?

I’ve really been going for identity of character and quality of writing. I mean, “Mud” was a beautiful, poetic script. It was its own thing. I haven’t seen anything else like it. Jeff Nichols’ language that he put in that script was beautiful. He wrote that with me in mind.

“Dallas Buyers” was something I had for a few years, so I knew I wanted to do it. It was just a matter of when and how. And these roles don’t come along that often. I think I sad that tonight.

“True Detective,” I read two episodes. Nic Pizzolatto’s writing, Cary Fukunaga directing, I said, “If I can play the role of Cole, I’m in.” There were six more episodes, but I was like, “This has such an identity, all the writer has to do is stay on track, and then we’re gold.” I hope we’re gold.

For more info: Screen Actors Guild Awards website

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