Few people knew when the cast of Dallas Buyers Club strolled down the red carpet at the 86th Academy Awards seeking 6 Oscars that this movie almost did not get made.
Matthew McConaughey, desperately gaunt, having dropped 45 pounds for the lead role as Ron Woodroof (the role that would turn out to be his first Oscar winning role) was the only star attached to the project in early September 2012. The brilliant Canadian director, Jean Marc Vallée (“Young Victoria”, “Cafe de Flora”) was on board along with a highly experienced production team but the promised budget had disappeared. McConaughey’s window of opportunity for filming this movie was rapidly closing, it would get down to a mere 3 days before production would have had to be called off. In an exclusive interview with executive producer Joe Newcomb (Truth Entertainment) we discovered how a leap of faith would change everything.
It all started with a visit to Charlie Sheen’s
In the summer of 2012, Craig Borten’s script for Dallas Buyers Club had suffered at least 137 deaths. Borten and his team, with a determined faith in the telling of Ron Woodroof’s remarkable story had doggedly pursued his dream. Borten’s commitment stretched back more than 20 years to Sept. 1992 when he had interviewed Woodroof on his deathbed. The script had been shopped around Hollywood so long it began to stale. But when Borten brought co-writer Melisa Wallack on board the script gained a renewed strength.
Dallas Buyers Club would be Newcomb’s first foray into the complex world of movie making, and he says it would never have happened if it were not for his great friend and Chicago White Sox slugger, Adam Dunn. Joe Newcomb is not a dreamer. Newcomb is a very successful Texas business tycoon who believes that one bad decision can wipe out all the good ones. He views making movies as a tough business, and it was an industry he was not involved with before September 2012.
In the summer of 2012 Dunn had enticed Joe, who was once a major league pitching prospect for the Toronto Blue Jays, out to L.A. to see a White Sox game. The next day Dunn brought Joe to a surprise meeting with Charlie Sheen, who is also an avid baseball fan. Sheen was keen on making “Major League 3” at the time but as it would turn out, Sheen’s commitment to FX Channel for ‘Anger Management’ meant Sheen would later have to shelve ‘Major League 3’. Talk turned to Newcomb’s architecture company and shortly afterwards Newcomb found himself back in L.A. once again with the infamous actor. This time Sheen offered his help in getting Newcomb involved with the film business and introduced him to some key players including Oscar winner David Ward (The Sting, Sleepless in Seattle).
“I mean it happened fast”
Things moved quickly. Back in Texas, Newcomb received a call and then the script for Dallas Buyers Club. It would be the second script Newcomb had ever read, and even though he was no expert on scripts, he knew right away it was very powerful. Just as the script caught Joe’s attention, a recent article in People Magazine lying on his bedside table also caught his eye. It was all about Matthew McConaughey and the massive weight loss he underwent in order to play Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. A furious spate of googling followed. Intrigued, Newcomb decided to meet in New Orleans with director Jean Marc Vallée. Vallée’s passion was overwhelming.
Newcomb says the combination of passion, an incredible script and the commitment of a A-list actor and director, McConaughey and Vallée, were the ingredients that led him, a self-described hard-core businessman, to take the leap of faith. At this time, none of the other actors were cast, including Jared Leto, whom Newcomb was unfamiliar with. Leto had not made a movie in 6 years but had been busy with his alternative rock band ‘30 Seconds to Mars’, touring and heading the charts.
Newcomb committed to the film and only realized 4 or 5 days later how crucial the financing was to get the movie going at all. “There was really no time”, he said. “I just opened up my credit card account for them”. The time lines were so tight that Newcomb apparently financed the filming on his Black Visa card while he was still working out the terms of the deal sheet. The movie was finally made for a mere 5.6 million dollars, a dramatic reduction from the initial 30 plus million dollar budget attached to the film.
More than 50 awards later including 3 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes and 2 Spirit Awards the world is a richer place for this remarkable movie. Watch our exclusive interview with Joe Newcomb about his involvement with Dallas Buyers Club and his tips on the making money in the fickle and treacherous business world of entertainment.