Jared Leto's Shocking Weight Loss to Play Transsexual With AIDS: Lost 30 Pounds, Dropped to 116

Exclusive! The actor explains how and why he "basically didn't eat" for his first film in five years

By Marc Malkin Mar 13, 2013 8:44 PMTags
Jared LetoFameFlynet Pictures

Jared Leto plays a transsexual with AIDS in the '80s in his first film in five years, The Dallas Buyers Club.

You may have seen some of the shocking images of photos of him while shooting the movie. Like his costar Matthew McConaughey, he lost about 30 pounds for the role. The movie is the real-life story of a Texan with AIDS (McConaughey) in the 1980s who smuggled alternative drug treatments into the U.S. from Mexico

"I got down to 116 or something," Leto told me yesterday at the Fast Company Grill at SXSW.

He explained, "I just basically didn't eat. I ate very little."

Take a look at Matthew McConaughey's scary skinny transformation

Deano /Breedo/ Splash News

But it wasn't just about becoming sickly thin. "I had done similar things with weight, but this was different," Leto said. "I think the role demanded that commitment…It was about how does that effect how I walk, how I talked, who I am, how I feel. You know, you feel very fragile and delicate and unsafe."

Not everyone he knew was aware of what he was doing. "It's not a great thing to see," Leto said. "If you run into people or see family who don't know what you're doing, they think that you're sick."

Leto was in Austin this week to promote Artifact, a documentary about his band 30 Seconds to Mars' legal battle with music label EMI.

Watch: Jared Leto's Scary Weight Loss

The group actually just finished their new album with the first single, "Up in the Air," set for release next week. A recording of the song was included on a rocket that was recently launched to the International Space Station.

"We going back to Houston, to mission control on the day of release," Leto said. "And the first people that will hear it are the astronauts in space. We're going to talk to them."

For more from Jared and SXSW, check out E! News tonight at 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.