By Alynda Wheat Paul Chi Oliver Jones
November 18, 2013 12:00 PM

>People | TALKS TO

You went through an extreme physical makeover to play an HIV-positive transsexual drug addict.

I lost between 30 and 40 lbs. and got to 114 lbs. and stopped counting. I discourage anyone from doing it. I lost the weight because it was necessary to bring the character to life. It changes the way you walk, talk, think and feel. But it was only one piece of the puzzle.

How did you lose the weight?

I only had three weeks to do it before filming started, so I just stopped eating. It was brutal. If I did eat, it was usually a raw vegetable. Sometimes I would splurge and eat half a cucumber with soy sauce on it. The first thing I took a bite out of when I finished shooting was a beignet.

What was it like dressing as a woman?

I waxed my eyebrows and all of my body hair. It hurt! It was comfortable to wear a dress, and I was a natural at walking in heels. But the tights were the worst part. Now I understand the pain and the work that goes into being a woman.

It’s been five years since your last movie. Why so long?

I’ve been touring with my band Thirty Seconds to Mars. Working, touring, growing up—that’s all taught me a lot and made me a better person. And a better actor.