In the film Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto plays a transgender woman who is living with HIV. He told Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he was “seduced” by the role of Rayon.

In the movie released Friday, Matthew McConaughey plays a homophobe who acquires HIV and develops a working relationship with Rayon.

The film is loosely based on the life of Ron Woodroof, a foulmouthed womanizer who in 1986 was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and given 30 days to live. He was prescribed AZT, the only legal HIV drug available at the time in the United States, but the drug's side effects brought Woodroof to the brink of death. With the help of his doctor, Eve Saks (played by Jennifer Garner) and Rayon, Woodroof created the nation's first club selling alternative and experimental treatments to combat HIV/AIDS. He died in 1992, 2,161 days later than doctors had anticipated. (The film's trailer is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Leto's last acting credit was playing Nemo Nobody in the 2009 film Mr. Nobody. Leto said that he's devoted the last five years to Thirty Seconds to Mars, the band he formed in 2002 with his brother Shannon Leto. (Tomo Milicevic later joined the band.)

“This is your first movie in five years.  You've been touring with your band. What was it about this movie that brought you back?” Gross asked.

“Well, I was seduced by this beautiful creature Rayon and a wonderful script and the potential and possibility to be a part of something that was really special,” Leto answered.

Leto said that he lost between 30 and 40 pounds for the role.

“I would never suggest anyone do it – gain or lose – but in this particular case I was playing a drug addict who was dying of AIDS and I felt it was important and would also provide a certain amount of fragility to the character. … [I]t was an essential element of the character-building.”