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1. MAGIC MIKE: BEST SHAPE EVER
With the help of nutritionist Chris Lockwood and celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, Matthew McConaughey transforms his already fine physique into a chiseled masterpiece for the male stripper movie Magic Mike. He sums up his motivation in two words: "Vanity, baby!" When the movie is released in June, he is, at age 42, in the best physical shape of his life.
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2. WEIGHT-LOSS REGIME BEGINS
Rather than relax and loosen the belt, McConaughey follows Magic Mike with even more workouts, constantly jogging throughout July and shedding pounds off what looks like a zero-body-fat frame. Wife Camila McConaughey explains to PEOPLE at the time that he is losing weight to play a man who contracted HIV through drug use. "I’m very supportive," she says. "I’m usually the one right there saying, ‘You can’t eat this, you can’t eat that,’ but he’s very disciplined. He’s really great at it.”
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3. SHOCKINGLY SKINNY
Stepping out in New York in August, a white-T-shirt-clad McConaughey stuns onlookers with his drastically thinner appearance. He is well on his way toward losing his target 30 lbs. for his gritty role in The Dallas Buyers Club in the fall. "I should not look healthy by the time I’m doing this," he confesses on the web series Larry King Now. He describes his weight loss as a "bit of a spiritual cleanse, a mental cleanse," but acknowledges, "It takes a while for your body to understand that it has to feed off of itself and that you’re not going to give it something else from the outside."
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4. CONTRASTING COUPLE
By the end of September, McConaughey appears to have hit his weight-loss goal – with disturbing results. His gaunt look is accentuated not only by a bulging Adam's apple and sunken cheeks but also by the stark contrast to pregnant wife Camila's growing belly. When the pair poses together at the Sept. 21 Andy Roddick Foundation gala in Austin, Texas, the effect is startling.
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5. SCARY FRAIL
About three weeks later, a virtually unrecognizable McConaughey seems to lean on his mother for support while leaving an Austin church on Oct. 7. The actor hasn't revealed specifics of his diet, only that he's drinking a lot of tea. However, reports of an all-liquid diet are false, a source insists to E! News, adding, "There are also vitamins and small portions of protein throughout the day." Still, shooting of the film, scheduled for the week of Oct. 15, can't come soon enough for the star: He'll reportedly be allowed to resume his normal diet, as later scenes show his character in better health before the AIDS diagnosis.