A movie starring Matthew McConaughey as an amateur cowboy and gambler living a wild life in 1980s Dallas wouldn’t be surprising at all—nor would it sound, on its face, like particularly serious material. But, as the new trailer for the upcoming Dallas Buyers Club shows, this isn’t just any rodeo movie.
McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, the real-life Texan who, after his HIV diagnosis, started a smuggling ring to get then-illegal medicine to patients. The movie has been a while in the making (Brad Pitt had plans to star in it as early as 2007), but the story is even older. As the Dallas Times Herald reported in 1990, Woodroof’s smuggling career took off at a time when the drug alpha interferon was known to be helpful for AIDS patients, but was not yet approved by the FDA; Woodroof, who was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1987, brought the medicine into the country from places like Japan.
Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto also star. Dallas Buyers Club is due in theaters on Dec. 6, 2013.