- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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"The Dallas Buyers Club," starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto and Steve Zahn, was sold for distribution by the Truth Entertainment production company to Focus Features last month. The film still does not have an official release date.
Dunn's close friend Joe Newcomb is a co-founder of Texas-based Truth Entertainment, while the White Sox part-time first baseman and designated hitter is a silent partner in the venture. Newcomb, a former pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization in the 1980s, often pitches to Dunn in the offseason.
Dunn talked this spring about his opportunity to play a bartender in the movie, but at the time he wasn't sure whether his scene would end up falling to the cutting-room floor. He has been assured he is in the movie but still hasn't watched either the director's cut of the film or the movie-festival version, even though he has both copies.
"I'm waiting for the right time when I can set it up on a big screen," Dunn said. "I don't want to watch it on the road on my phone or my iPad or something."
Most of the early publicity on the movie has to do with McConaughey losing as much as 50 pounds to play the real-life Ron Woodruff, who was diagnosed with AIDS in the 1980s and was given just a month to live. Dunn said McConaughey lost the weight by sucking on a lemon for breakfast, drinking sweet tea all day and eating a small portion of tuna for dinner.
To bring his bartender character, Neddy Jay, to life, Dunn said his bit role took two days to film. The entire production took a quick 30 days to shoot this winter in Louisiana at a budget of just under $6 million.
"I don't know enough about what it takes to win an award, but if [McConaughey] doesn't, then I don't know what it takes to be an award-winning actor," Dunn said. "There were 18-hour days, dude, and I'm not talking sitting around. There were 18-hour days, and it was nonstop work. Unbelievable."
At the very least, Dunn believes McConaughey should win some type of dedication-to-his-craft award.
"Yeah, for sure," Dunn said. "He's going to win something, and if he doesn't I'm boycotting."
As for his own award chances, Dunn knows he better not quit his day job any time soon.
"[McConaughey] will probably snub me out for best actor, but after all the hard work he put into it, he can have it," Dunn quipped.
That doesn't mean that Dunn won't act again.
"It was a cool experience, and it probably won't be my last, actually," he said. "I'll probably try to do a couple more, but I don't want anything too big. I don't want anything that people have to look at for too long. I want kind of a quickie."
Maybe he can hire an agent who seeks out only bartending roles.
"Yeah, I'm good at that," Dunn said. "Do what I know. I don't have to fake none of that."
To add authenticity to his scene, Dunn insisted the bar be fully stocked, and not with prop versions of alcohol. Despite the tight budget, Dunn's wishes were granted.
5hTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com