Rachel Winter, Robbie Brenner ‘held on for dear life’ to make Oscar-nominated ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Dallas Buyers Club” had been in development for two decades before finally being made with director Jean-Marc Vallee and actor Matthew McConaughey in the role of AIDS-afflicted crusader Ron Woodroof. “Rachel [Winter] and I held on for dear life together and we willed it into existence,” says producer Robbie Brenner when asked in the webcam chat below about the ordeal of bringing the film to fruition. “And when every door closed, we somehow threw our bodies against it and we pried it open.”

For Winter, the film’s subject matter hit especially close to home: “My uncle had been on AZT, he died of AIDS actually very close to the time that Ron died … I took that with me the minute Robbie said in 2009, ‘Hey I know you’ve always loved this. You want to do this?’ And I was like ‘F*ck yeah, let’s do this!'”

But even though medical breakthroughs have made HIV/AIDS not the automatic death sentence it was when Woodroof fought the disease from the mid-1980s to early 1990s, Winter believes the subject is still important for modern audiences: “The young people don’t view [the disease] the same way, and from what I understand there’s a real carelessness out there, and that’s really scary. They’re not in touch with the idea that at one point this was the largest epidemic in our country’s history since maybe polio.”

The production came with the usual challenges associated with a low-budget independent film. It was shot over just 25 days and sacrifices had to be made, including Vallee’s decision to shoot with only natural light, but while there were benefits to such limitations – “I think there’s something to be said about making a movie … where everybody is sort of doing it because they love it,” says Brenner – Winter does think big-budget resources would have been a welcome reward for their trouble: “When … you do it in 25 days and you get it done and it’s amazing, then back the truck up, let’s pay everybody after the fact. That would be okay too.”

It was after the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall that they could finally sense momentum building for their long-gestated labor of love. “We knew when we got to the point where people started saying, ‘Oh it’s “Dallas Buyers Club”‘ rather than referring to it as the Matthew weight-loss movie that we were actually gaining traction in the world,” says Brenner, “… and people are embracing this movie and loving this movie and it has something for everyone, so we are so proud and thrilled.”

Watch the rest of our interview below and predict whether “Dallas” will win the Oscar for Best Picture:

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