Skeletal Matthew McConaughey Starts Shooting ‘The Dallas Buyer’s Club’ (PHOTOS)

Matthew's Weight Loss
McConaughey's dramatic slim-down for new role.
Matthew McConaughey has gone from sinewy to skeletal — all in the name of art.

After dropping a drastic 30 lbs for his new role, the Magic Mike actor stepped out in New Orleans, La., looking shockingly frail for the first day of filming The Dallas Buyer’s Club.

The film tells the true story of Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient in the mid-1980s who seeks experimental medication to prolong his life.

In a pale plaid shirt and denim pants, the usually-muscular McConaughey was almost unrecognizable, sporting a Bert Reynolds-like mustache and longer locks. The actor, 43, was even spotted with a dark legion on his forward, an telltale sign of AIDS affliction.

“I’m playing a guy who was sick and would have loved to have been healthier but wasn’t,” the actor told Us Weekly in August.

To shed pounds ahead of shooting, McConaughey stuck to a strict high-protein, low-carb diet. “For me, it’s more of a mental thing than a physical thing,” he explained. “I’ll get down to the weight I need to get to. I’m on my way, and it’s what I need to do for the job.”

As McConaughey got to work on the biopic — which also stars Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto — his pregnant wife Camila Alves, 30,was on hand.

Sporting loose sweats and a cap, Alves — who is expecting the couple’s third child this winter — brought son Levi, 4, and daughter Vida, 2, to set.

As her husband has been on a weight-loss mission, Alves’ belly bump has been blossoming. “We have gone the complete opposite direction eating wise,” she told PEOPLE in September. “But we’re navigating it. I don’t really have cravings yet.”