So my fellow Texan— Matthew Mcconaughey—won the best actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club , which is by far and away my fave movie of last year. Both the onscreen story (about a homophobic, hard-partying Dallas bull rider who contracts AIDS and who smuggles drugs to stay alive) and the drama getting the movie made (it took 20 years and at one point Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling had signed up for lead) are almost too crazy to believe.
Here are 5 things I learned from the movie:
1. Get busy living or get busy dying. At the beginning of the movie the partying cowboy Ron Woodroof is given a death sentence: he has full blown AIDS and 30 days to live. So, what does he do? He buys a bunch of coke and booze, hires some strippers, and parties balls. But quickly the reality of the situation sinks in, and soon he’s off on a quest to heal himself and others suffering from HIV. He ends up living years longer than his 30 days.
* While none of us have (hopefully) been given a grim prognosis, the truth is that life is finite, and you just don’t know when it will end. So do you wanna spend your precious time complaining about the weather, or your apparent lack of men/money/or meaning? No, you don’t. So get busy living by hustling towards your dreams and loving the life you have, pronto. The clock is ticking.
2. Don’t take no for an answer. This movie was rejected a whopping 137 times. At various points Woody Harrelson, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, and Gael García Bernal were signed on but all eventually dropped out. Finally Mcconaughey, his director and producers were able to see it through.
* Remember many times no doesn’t mean NO, it just means: not right now, not this way, or not with this person.
3. “If you talk about it, it’s a dream, if you envision it, it’s possible, but if you schedule it, it’s real.”
The reason Matthew Mcconaughey and his team succeeded when others failed before? He scheduled this film in his calendar.
He and the director set the date to start shooting in September 2012 in Louisiana and Mcconaughey began shedding the weight he would need to play an AIDS patient. One week before filming was scheduled to begin, the investors dropped out. The director called Mcconaughey’s agents to say filming would have to be pushed back. Mcconaughey said no. He had another movie scheduled for the next year and he had already lost 50 pounds. This was it: now or never. Everyone started hustling and some rich Texans who were in the fertilizer business but wanted to break into movies put up the money. Filming took 25 days and was shot with no extra lights and a handheld camera. The movie has earned six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay.
* Whether you want to start a blog, leave your job, or open a business, give yourself a date to launch and stick to it.
4. Everyone loves a comeback. Jared Leto and Matthew Mcconaughey both won Oscars for DBC. But until recently Matthew Mcconaughey may have been best known for playing the bongos stoned and naked, and Jared Leto for a TV series he starred in 20 years ago.
*It ain’t over ’til it’s over. You will have many incarnations in your lifetime. So if you happen to feel like the best is behind you, trust me, you will rise (and fall) and rise again. You just gotta keep trying. Which brings us to our last point….
5. Enjoy the process, let go of the results.
In many interviews about the DBC, Matthew Mcconaughey has said this: “I enjoy the process of the making, and I’ve become much less result-oriented. Not just in making movies, but in my life as well.” After many years of forgettable Rom-Com’s, he wanted to start making movies he actually liked and which challenged him as an actor. So he set out to make DBC, not with accolades or money in mind. The irony is that he’s garnered more respect and praise than he ever has in his entire career.
*The takeaway: Do what you love. Not with fame or fortune in mind, but because it makes you happy and it’s what you were born to do. Nurture and enjoy the process, and if success comes: awesome! If not, whatevs. You’re doing what you love. You’ve already won.