Dallas Buyers Club
Written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Running time: 113 minutes
Download the Script (PDF)
BASIC STORY MAP
PROTAGONIST: Ron Woodroof, 40s, electrician diagnosed with AIDS
CHARACTERIZATION|MAIN MISBEHAVIOR: Street-wise | Bigot, Addict
EXTERNAL GOAL: To find meds that will save his life / To provide access to unapproved meds for others
INTERNAL GOAL: To be intolerant / To accept others as they are
MAIN DRAMATIC CONFLICT: FDA / Barkley / Sevard
THEME(S): Acceptance | Perseverance
CENTRAL DRAMATIC QUESTION: Will Ron die from AIDS?
ENDING: Ron loses the court case against the FDA, but finds support with those that he helped or inspired.
ARC: Ron goes from a bigot to a crusader for human rights and AIDS research.
After an accident, Ron Woodroof learns that he has AIDS and only thirty days to live. Later, Ron bribes a hospital orderly for AZT, a drug to treat AIDS. He takes AZT, but doesn’t give up alcohol and drugs and his condition worsens. When the hospital blocks the orderly’s access, he tells Ron of a doctor in Mexico that can help him.
Ron health improves when Dr. Vass, a physician ostracized to Mexico, prescribes him a regimen of vitamins and mineral zinc. Ron strikes a deal with Vass to distribute meds, but is unable to sell them on his own. He then brings in a cross dressing AIDS patient, Rayon, to sell. With Rayon’s help, business booms. To avoid FDA interference, Ron offers to sell membership and give away the meds for free.
Ron develops friendships that shed his bigotry, travels the world and obtains new meds. He’s then audited by the IRS and Rayon’s health deteriorates. The FDA raids the buyer’s club, seizes all of its inventory and rules buyer’s clubs illegal. When the club is low on cash and unable to obtain meds for its members, Rayon cashes in his life insurance policy and gives Ron ten thousand dollars to save the club.
Ron travels to Mexico and buys more meds from Dr. Vass. Rayon dies before he gets back. Moved by Rayon’s death, he gives away medication to those who can’t afford it. He then has his lawyer file a lawsuit in San Francisco against the FDA, but loses. When he returns to the buyer’s club, a group of his closest friends surprise him and applaud his effort.
FULL STORY MAP
Sequence I: After a bet goes south, Ron Woodroof is chased by gamblers at the rodeo. He decks a cop and is arrested to save himself from their wrath.
1-2 – OPENING IMAGES: RON WOODROOF has sex with two women in a bull stall. In the ring, a bull throws and stomps a cowboy.
EXT. RODEO STADIUM – DALLAS – TEXAS – DAY
Ambient sounds of the CROWD, RODEO, SEX, and a strange RINGING fade in along with IMAGES of...
A COWBOY riding a BULL in an enclosed RODEO ring.
RON WOODROOF, early 40’s, handsome, long sandy hair, denim clad, worn snakeskin boots, dusty, cowboy hat, mirrored aviators, is engaged in wild SEX with a WOMAN. He watches the rodeo through open slats in a BULL STALL as the STEER throws the COWBOY violently thru the air; he lands hard on the dirt. Another WOMAN snorts cocaine and offers some to Ron as he switches over to having SEX with her.
The BULL STOMPS the Cowboy with its HOOFS.
Ron climaxes -- pleasure and pain seem to come out of him, but we can’t hear him, only this strange RINGING.
RODEO CLOWNS grab the Cowboy’s limp body and drag him out of the ring.
Ron catches his breath; something is off.
3 – Ron takes bets from a group of men in the locker room of the rodeo. A newspaper headline reads “Rock Hudson in Paris with AIDS.” Ron calls him a cock sucker.
EXT. RODEO STADIUM – LOCKER ROOM – DAY
A Dallas NEWSPAPER folded in half. July. 1985. AIDS. New treatment. In Paris. ROCK HUDSON on the cover. A HAND scribbles numbers over the photo.
Did you hear Rock Hudson was a cock sucker?
Where’d ya hear that?
CLINT (32) a greasy hick who’s spent the last five months under the hood of a CHEVY, hands RON a WAD of CASH.
It’s called a newspaper. You heard of it?
Ron smiles, adjusts his cowboy hat as he records some bets. Nearby, BULL FIGHTERS are putting on their clown makeup.
It’s a shame, ain’t it? All that fine Hollywood pussy just being wasted on a guy who smokes his friends.
4-5 – Ron gives a pep talk to a bull rider, T.J. When T.J. is thrown in under eight seconds, Ron looks to the bleachers and flees.
5 – Gamblers chase Ron into the parking lot. Ron runs up and asks a cop, TUCKER, to arrest him. When Tucker refuses, Ron punches him in the face and gets his wish.
6 – TUCKER’S DAD SETUP: Tucker drops Ron off at his trailer. Ron asks about Tucker’s dad. Tucker says that he has good days and bad days.
7 – Inside his trailer, Ron passes out.
Sequence II: After an accident on the oil field, Ron wakes up in the hospital. Dr. Sevard and Dr. Eve Saks inform him that he has AIDS and only thirty days to live.
7-8 – Working on the oil field, Ron sells cocaine to co-worker. He’s called away to assist an accident.
8-9 – A Mexican worker has his leg caught in a drill. Ron attempts to shut down the drill and is knocked out from a violent shock of electricity.
9-10 – INCITING INCIDENT: Ron wakes up in the hospital. DR. NATHAN SEVARD and DR. EVE SAKS, both wearing surgical masks and latex gloves, inform him he has AIDS.
You’ve tested positive for HIV --
Ron looks at Dr. Sevard blankly.
...the virus that causes AIDS.
Ron freezes. A long beat.
Who you kidding, Rock cock sucking Hudson bullshit?!
Have you ever used intravenous drugs or had any homosexual --
Ron spits out his CANDY.
Homo? Homo? That’s what you said, right? Shit. You gotta be kidding me.
I ain’t no faggot, I don’t even know any faggots, I’m a rodeo!
11-12 – Ron denies the results. The doctors estimate that he has less than thirty days to live.
Mr. Woodroof, we’re trying to impress upon you the gravity of your situation. Based on your condition, we estimate that you have about thirty days to get your affairs in order --
Ron jumps off the examining table.
What is this shit?!
They don’t respond.
Ron laughs incredulously and walks towards the door.
I got a news flash for all y’all, there ain’t nothin’ out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in thirty days.
Ron looks at the papers, tosses them up in the air and exits.
Sequence III: Ron reads up on AIDS and discovers those who engage in unprotected sex and intravenous drug use are at risk of contracting the virus. He then remembers having sex with a woman that had track marks on her arms.
13-14 – Ron and T.J. party with a couple of ladies at Ron’s trailer. Ron doesn’t have the energy to have sex, so T.J. does them both.
14-15 – FAIR-WEATHER FRIENDS SETUP: After T.J. and the girls finish, Ron tells T.J. that the doctors told him he has HIV, but that he believes the diagnosis is a mistake.
I mean I got a stupid cough and they tell me I got some HIV virus.
T.J. looks at Ron, hears him but doesn’t hear him, maybe it doesn’t even register he’s so wasted.
Hell, like I got the AIDS. Damn hospital, mixed up my blood samples.
Man, I went to them doctors once, they tell me I had chlamydia, I came back home I realized I had crabs.
S’what I’m saying.
T.J. licks some coke off his fingers.
I heard you get that just by touchin’ someone. Or that queers get it.
Which is exactly why it’s a mistake.
16 – T.J. and the girls leave and Ron stares at his calendar.
16 – Ron visits the library.
17-18 – Rick Ferris, a pharmaceutical rep, presents AZT findings to a hospital board, saying that AZT has been shown to restore T-cell immunity and increased CD4 counts. When Eve questions its efficacy, Ferris tells her that the FDA has approved human trials.
(looking into her file)
In 64, when AZT was developed for cancer treatment, it was shelved due to lack of anti cancer efficacy and toxicity.
We believe those problems were dosage based.
So you’re conducting another animal study?
Actually the FDA has given us permission to go straight to human trials which is what brings me here today. We’re conducting a double-blind, placebo- controlled randomized trial throughout the United States. Dallas Mercy is one of the proposed sites.
How long do you see the study going on?
We’re hoping to fast track it within a year? During which time the hospital and its administering physicians will be very well compensated for their efforts.
19 – Back at the library, Ron reads from a microfiche of information on AIDS: Those who engage in unprotected sex and intravenous drug use are at risk of contracting the virus. He then remembers having sex with a woman that had track marks on her arms.
INT. DALLAS PUBLIC LIBRARY – DAY
Ron is seated in front of a screen that shows a microfiche of information on AIDS, HIV and AZT.
LATER – DAY: Ron continues reading; the LIBRARIAN looks over as he endures a brief coughing spasm, then he goes back to his work. We PUSH IN on the phrase”...Unprotected sex...”
LATER – DAY: Ron continues reading, runs his finger along the words. Stops at “INTRAVENOUS DRUG USE”. As he closes his eyes and exhales--
EXT. MOTEL – NIGHT – DREAM / FLASHBACK 18
We’re on a SNAKE TATOO on the back of a naked girl having wild sex with a younger and heavier Ron, totally wasted, and...
hypnotized by the tattoo that goes up to her neck and down to her arm -- marked with track marks.
INT. DALLAS PUBLIC LIBRARY – DAY
Ron slams the book shut with rage. He screams out releasing his anger. His voice echoes off the library walls.
Sequence IV: After learning of AZT, a new drug to treat AIDS, Ron goes to the hospital and asks Eve for the medication. She tells him that the drug is unavailable, as it is only about to begin clinical trials. Later, he bribes an orderly who steals it for him.
21-22 – STRONG MOVEMENT FORWARD: Ron goes back to the hospital and asks Eve for AZT. When she tells him of the upcoming clinical trials and the fact it could be a year before it’s available for patients (if proven to work), he asks about other medications, but none are approved by the FDA.
There is a support group that meets every day at Draddy Auditorium, perhaps you could share your feelings and concerns...
Ron abruptly stands.
I’m dying and you’re tellin’ me to go get a hug from a bunch of faggots?
23-24 – FAIR-WEATHER FRIENDS PAYOFF: Ron meets up with T.J., Clint and others at a bar. Clint insinuates Ron is gay and things get heated (T.J. told them Ron has AIDS). Ron is offended, gets in their faces. They back off, all afraid of being touched.
25 – Ron visits the support group where Rick Ferris addresses the crowd regarding AZT. An effeminate man approaches Ron warmly and Ron insults him. Ron picks up some pamphlets and leaves.
27 – At a strip club, Ron spots an orderly from the hospital and approaches him.
27 – At the back of the hospital, the orderly throws a brown bag in a dumpster and picks up a bag of cash. As the orderly heads back inside, Ron grabs the paper bag out of the dumpster.
28 – Back at Ron’s trailer, he takes AZT out of the bag. He swallows a pill and does a line of coke.
Sequence IV: Ron continues to take AZT, but doesn’t give up alcohol and drugs and gets sicker. The hospital begins locking up AZT, blocking the orderly’s access. He tells Ron of a doctor in Mexico that can help him get the drug.
28-29 – Ron arrives at the oil field. T.J., Clint and other workers stare at him menacingly. Ron doesn’t get out of his car. He gives them the finger as he pulls away.
29 – MONTAGE: Repeated exchanges between Ron and the orderly, mixed with Ron snorting coke, boozing and visiting the strip club and rodeo.
30 – END OF ACT ONE TURN: Outside the hospital, the orderly tells Ron the AZT is locked up, but still takes Ron’s cash. He writes down the name of a doctor in Mexico that has AZT. Ron takes a swing at him and falls. The ringing comes back in Ron’s ears and he passes out.
Sequence I: Ron meets a cross dressing man named Rayon, learns he’s in the hospital for the AZT trial. Ron is still unwell and unable to obtain AZT. Against Eve’s orders, Ron leaves the hospital for Mexico, preferring to die with his “boots on.”
31 – In the hospital, Eve wakes up Ron, informs him that he nearly died. Dr. Sevard is more concerned with where Ron got AZT, states that dealing pharmaceutical drugs is illegal. Ron ignores him.
32-33 – The patient in the nearby bed, RAYON, a cross dresser in his early thirties, approaches Ron and gets a taste of Ron’s bigotry. Not easily offended, Rayon asks Ron to play cards and they gamble.
33-34 – Rayon wins a hand, pisses off Ron. Ron’s leg cramps up and Rayon helps massage it.
35 – Rayon reveals that he’s in the hospital for the AZT trial and that he’s splitting his pills with a friend for five grand. Ron tries to buy some, but Rayon refuses to split his dosage three ways.
36 – Eve attempts to stop Ron from leaving the hospital.
You’re too sick to leave here.
The worst-case scenario bein’ what?
We can keep you comfortable at least.
Thanks, but I prefer to die with my boots on.
36-37 – Ron arrives at his trailer, finds himself locked-out and the words “FAGGOT BLOOD” spray painted across it. He grabs a shotgun from his trunk and blasts open the front door. Inside, he grabs cash, a duffel bag, and a Texas wildflower painting off the wall and leaves.
Sequence II: In Mexico, Ron is treated by Dr. Vass. Vass prescribes him a regimen of vitamins and mineral zinc to strengthen his immune system.
38 – Ron pulls his car over on the side of the highway and sits in silence. After a few moments, he touches his handgun and breaks into tears.
39 – In the grips of pneumonia, Ron enters Dr. Vass’ clinic in Mexico City. He asks DR. VASS for AZT, but Vass claims it’s poison. Noticing Ron’s condition, he has a nurse attend to him.
RON?I’m lookin’ for Dr. Vass.
Dr. Vass steps over.
I’m lookin’ for Vass, for some AZT.
Looking to poison yourself?
He grabs an empty bottle of pills on the counter. Throws it to Ron.
That’s from the chemical manufacturer who makes AZT, Sigma.
Ron looks at the bottle labeled with skull and crossbones: HIGHLY TOXIC, NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
First thing I tell my patients: you won’t find that shit here!
40-41 – Vass speaks to Ron: Ron’s appetite for drugs and alcohol, along with his AZT use, have nearly killed him. Vass prescribes him a regimen of vitamins and mineral zinc to strengthen his immune system.
INT. DR. VASS’ CLINIC – MEXICO CITY – DAY
Frail and weak, Ron lies on a cot, surrounded by a dozen other PATIENTS of varied nationalities. A NURSE records his vital signs in a chart, then hands it off to Dr. Vass, who peruses the information and begins reading aloud:
Cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamine, AZT.
That’s what I call a recipe for disaster.
Doc, this place is a shit-hole.
Who said I was a Doctor? They revoked my license to practice three years ago, that’s why I’m down in this shit-hole.
Why? What’d you do?
I didn’t play ball.
These drugs you’re doing, they’re breaking down your immune system, making you susceptible to infections.
So cocaine gave me pneumonia?
Cocaine made you more susceptible. As did AZT.
I thought AZT’s supposed to help me.
The only people AZT helps are the people who sell it.
It kills every cell it comes in contact with, good and bad.
41 – Eve attends to Rayon, criticizes him for not showing up for the last trial appointment. Rayon is fatalistic about his condition. Eve understands the reality, but won’t give up trying to help him.
Sequence III: Though Ron’s health improved after treatment from Vass, he still needs medication to survive. He strikes a deal with Vass to distribute meds for AIDS patients in Dallas. He is detained on the border, but lies to FDA agent Barkley, claiming that he has cancer and the meds are for personal use.
THREE MONTHS LATER
42-43 – Three months later, Vass informs Ron that, while his T-cell count has improved, his immune system is shot. Further, he has chronic pneumonia. Vass gives him DDC, an anti-viral similar to AZT but less toxic, as well as a protein called Peptide T. Neither are approved by the FDA in the United States.
And you can’t buy them back in the U.S.?
No, not approved.
Ron takes the bottle of PEPTIDE T, turns it over in his hand, looks around.
Chinks, homos and herbs, you got a new world order here, Vass. You could be makin’ a fortune off this stuff.
44 – Outside Vass’ clinic, Ron’s trunk is loaded up with illegal meds. He shakes hands with Vass and leaves.
Ron strikes a deal with Vass to sell him meds.
If you get caught, don’t tell them you got AIDS. They’ll never let you back in.
45 – On the American/Mexican border, Ron pulls up wearing a priest uniform. A border agent looks him over…
45-46 – FIRST TRIAL: In a customs holding room, Ron is interrogated by FDA agent, RICHARD BARKLEY, over the 3,000 pills found in his trunk. Ron claims that he has cancer and the pills are his personal 90-day supply of vitamins and zinc. Barkley questions whether they are for personal use and warns against distribution.
The man looks at Ron, not really buying it. He takes a of Peptide T and looks at it.
(no answer from Ron)
You do realize that importing unapproved drugs for sale is a very serious offense?
Well, as I said, they’re not for sale. And they ain’t illegal, just “unapproved.”
A long beat; they stare at each other.
If we find the slightest indication that you’re selling these drugs for profit, you will be thrown in jail... Father.
Then I promise to take each and every one of them pills myself. In fact this present detainment has already put me off schedule... Son.
Sequence IV: Unable to sell the meds on his own, Ron brings Rayon into the business to sell.
46-48 – Ron tries to sell meds in the Oak Lawn district, the support group at Draddy Auditorium and outside a gay club, but no one will buy from him.
48 – Eve attends to an AIDS and AZT trial patient who received a blood transfusion and finds that his symptoms have worsened. NURSE FRAZIN questions why the AZT trial is stopping with these results. The pharmaceutical company claims fewer people are dying and most are feeling better, but Eve is concerned.
49 – Eve raises her concerns about AZT’s safety with Dr. Sevard. She’s seen it drop white blood cell count in her patients, making them more susceptible to infection.
Their trial results are overwhelmingly positive. AZT is working.
But we have no idea what the long term effects are. It’s irresponsible.
These people die, Eve. There are no long-term effects.
49 – Rayon hops in Ron’s car and asks for more product, claiming that he feels much better. He pulls out a wad of cash, saying he needs enough for twenty customers, but is offended by Ron’s vulgarities and gets out of the car.
I need more of that cocktail shit you got!
Listen Tinkerbell, unless you got cash or some new clients for me, I’m busy. Now get the f...
Let’s just do this quickly so I can get the fuck out!
Rayon shows Ron a stack of bills. A big one.
You got enough for 20 of us?
Rayon sees how Ron looks at his cash.
You know what? You don’t deserve our money, you homophobic asshole!
50-51 – Ron offers Rayon a small share of the business to sell the meds. Rayon stands firm on twenty five percent. Backed into a corner, Ron agrees.
Sequence V: With Rayon’s help, business booms. Ron discovers a legal loophole, offers to sell a membership and give away the meds for free. The Dallas Buyers Club is born.
51-52 – With Rayon’s help, business booms.
52 – At a gay bar, Rayon mixes business and pleasure and Ron sheds some of his homophobia.
53 – Ron reads national newspaper headlines regarding the growing epidemic of AIDS and its victims.
53 – Ron and Rayon setup shop in an old, retro motel.
54 – MIDPOINT: Ron’s lawyer DAVID WAYNE drops off legal paperwork regarding the club for Ron. Ron tells him that he’s now giving away the meds for free, but selling memberships, avoiding the legalities selling of unapproved medications. He calls it “The Dallas Buyers Club.”
Jesus, how many truck loads you bring back from Mexico? All for your own personal use?
(gives Ron a folder)
Here’s the paper work for your LLC. I don’t even want to know what it’s for.
Don’t worry, Counselor. I ain’t selling drugs anymore.
(off Wayne’s look of surprise)
I’m giving them away. For free.
(showing the folder)
By selling memberships. Four hundred a month in dues gets you all the meds you need.
Wayne looks at him, thinking it over.
You son of a bitch!
Bitches. Plural. There’s a bunch of faggots runnin’ a hell of a club up in New York. That’s where I got the idea.
Welcome to the Dallas Buyers Club.
54 – Eve watches a news report on AZT that cites AZT as the first approved drug to treat AIDS. At ten thousand dollars per patient, it is the most expensive drug ever marketed.
Sequence I: Looking for Rayon, Eve discovers Ron’s operation at the motel. She realizes Ron is treating her patients and says she’ll advise them to stay away. Later, Ron defends Rayon’s honor from T.J. at the grocery store.
TWO MONTHS LATER
55-56 – Ron sells a membership to Ian. He advises him to stop taking AZT.
56 – Eve questions Nurse Frazin over Rayon’s whereabouts. She tells Eve that Rayon recently changed his address.
57 – Eve shows up at the motel and is shocked to find Ron at Rayon’s address. She sees charts on a bed, realizes Ron is treating her patients. Ron defends his product, but Eve leaves saying she’ll advise her patients to stay away.
58-60 – Ron and Rayon shop for groceries. Ron bumps into T.J. Things are polite until T.J. sees Rayon from a distance and calls him a faggot. Rayon approaches and introduces himself, but T.J. won’t shake his hand. Angry, Ron puts T.J. in a headlock and forces him to shake Rayon’s hand. Rayon is moved.
Rayon sticks out his hand. T.J. doesn’t respond.
Shake his hand, T.J.
Come on, buddy, what’s your fuckin’ problem?
T.J. gives Ron the finger. Ron grabs T.J.’s hand and twists it behind his back. T.J. resists, tries to get out of Ron’s grip but can’t. He finally extends his hand. Rayon shakes it.
Good. Now get the fuck outta here and go back to your miserable life.
T.J. stares at Ron for a while, angry, humiliated, then leaves. Ron watches him go. Rayon stares at Ron, unsure of how to react to this. A subtle smile appears on his face.
Rayon’s moved that Ron stuck up for him. He starts to tear up.
Sequence II: Ron travels to Japan and obtains a new, experimental AIDS medication, alpha interferon. When he arrives back in the states, he suffers a heart attack in an airport restroom stall from the interferon.
60 – POINT OF NO RETURN SETUP: A line is gathered outside the motel when Ron arrives. A young man named Freddie offers Ron fifty dollars, but Ron refuses membership. Ron walks outside and announces that memberships are four hundred dollars — no exceptions.
61-62 – Ron puts DENISE in charge after he catches Rayon using drugs. He tells Rayon to get clean.
63 – Ron visits the Hayashira Chemical Lab in Japan. There, Mr. Yamata tells him they can no longer export interferon to the United States. Ron also learns that only Japanese doctors can buy the medication.
64 – Ron bribes a Japanese doctor to make the purchase. The doctor warns that interferon is “very strong.”
64 – Ron impersonates a doctor and gets through U.S. customs.
65 – As he leaves the terminal, Ron feels ill, walks into a restroom. There, he enters a stall and injects interferon. He then tenses up, grabs his chest and falls to the ground.
Sequence III: After suffering a heart attack, Ron’s alpha interferon is seized by the FDA because it was issued by a Japanese doctor. Eve stands up against Sevard for Ron and the buyer’s club.
66-67 – Ron wakes up the hospital. Dr. Sevard, Barkley (FDA), and Tucker (cop) enter his room. Sevard informs Ron that the interferon gave him a heart attack, demands to know where Ron acquired it. Ron ignores the question, instead wanting to know what’s in his I.V. When Sevard reveals it’s AZT, Ron rips the needle out of his arm and threatens to sue the hospital.
You nearly killed yourself. We need to know where you acquired those drugs.
(re: I.V. tube)
And I need to know what you’re pumpin’ into me here.
A combination of AZT...
What? Get it out!
Ron rips the I.V. out of his arm.
I’m gonna sue you for attempted murder! Where’s my stuff?
Your stuff gave you a heart attack.
Go to hell. I say what goes in my body, not you. Final. Period. End of story.
67 – Barkley threatens to bust Ron for bringing in a two year supply of interferon. Ron stands up to Barkley, leaves the hospital.
68 – Sevard questions Eve over Ron’s medications. When Eve defends Ron and the buyer’s club, Sevard demands that she instruct her patients to stay away.
INT. DALLAS MERCY HOSPITAL – DR. EVE SAKS’ OFFICE – DAY
Eve sits behind her desk, Dr. Sevard standing across from her.
You’re his physician and you can’t tell me what medications he’s on?
He came in once for advice. I have no idea what he does outside hospital.
Well the FDA confiscated over two thousand vials of alpha interferon... that he was about to sell to AIDS patients. Our patients!
(testing the waters)
Actually, I’ve been reading about Buyers Clubs. They say they found other drugs that are eliminating symptoms.
Without controlled trials, we’ll never be able to cure this thing because we’ll have no legitimate data. Tell your patients to stay away from him.
68 – Business is booming at the buyer’s club. Ron chats on the phone with Wayne, learns that the FDA confiscated all his interferon because it was issued by a Japanese doctor. Ron tells Wayne to look for it around the world: he’s gonna get some hell or high water.
Sequence IV: Ron travels the world and obtains meds. Upon his return, he’s audited by the IRS and Rayon’s health deteriorates.
69 – ASSUMPTION OF POWER: Ron travels to Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and Hong Kong, picks up meds as he goes.
69-70 – At the buyer’s club, Ron defends himself from Eve’s questions: the treatments are working, not only for him, but for others.
People can live with this thing for longer than they’re saying. Ninety-six-percent of people diagnosed with AIDS in the U S of A will be dead in under six months.
I know the statistics.
Then use them. Why give people AZT when their immune system is broken? It’s fuckin’ toxic!
If you’re abusing it, like you did, with no medical surveillance, of course it is.
Maybe I did abuse it, but I’m off it now, and I’m here, feeling good. And I’m not the only one.
71 – Back at the hospital, Sevard discovers he has no more AZT trial patients.
71 – The buyer’s club has a line of customers out the door. Ron sees a woman in line for the first time. Denise tells him she’s HIV positive. A few minutes later, Ron has sex with the woman in his bathroom.
72-73 – Rayon is ill. Ron injects his meds. Wayne walks in and informs them they’re being audited by the IRS.
73 – Ron badgers the IRS as they remove financial records from the buyer’s club office.
Sequence V: Ron and Eve bond over dinner. Later, the FDA raids the buyer’s club and seizes all of its inventory.
73 – At her apartment, Eve watches a news segment on protesters arrested outside FDA offices. The protesters were demanding faster action on drugs to treat AIDS.
74 – Ron takes his regimen of meds.
74 – Ron is dressed up for a date. Rayon teases him, saying he can’t pick up a real woman. When he asks if Ron remembered flowers, Ron takes his flower painting off the wall and leaves.
75-78 – PAINTING SETUP: Ron has dinner with Eve, gives her the wildflower painting. He asks if Sevard tipped off the IRS, asks for tips in the future. They talk about why Eve became a doctor and why Ron became an electrician. When they talk about parents, Ron reveals his mother was a painter and that the wildflower painting was her work. Eve promises to hang it.
What about your mom?
She was a painter, kind of a gypsy. She got tired a’ all the shit and left. You know how it is.
She painted that, your mom?
Don’t feel like you gotta hang it. I know you like everything perfect.
I do not. I’ll hang it. I’m going to hang it. It’s just... are you sure you don’t want to keep it?
Ron looks at her. A long time, then:
You need to enjoy your life, little lady. You only got one.
78 – Back at home, Eve stares at the painting as it rests against the wall.
79-80 – The FDA raids the buyer’s club, seizes its inventory. Ron calls Wayne and demands he file a restraining order against the FDA.
Our primary concern is preventing a market for illegal drugs.
Illegal? Unapproved! These are vitamins and minerals, for Chrissake!
Vitamins and minerals that gave you a heart attack, remember?
I’m not selling that stuff, you confiscated it, remember?
The agents confiscate lots of small blue boxes and put them in an evidence bag.
What’s the matter, you got Alzheimers, Richard?
(pointing at the blue boxes)
‘Cause Peptide T works for Alzheimers too, ya know?
Tucker looks over at Ron.
Come on, it’s a protein! Effective with dementia which I have. Why don’t you just look at my research?
Woodroof, I wouldn’t want you to spend your last days in jail. If you have a product you’d like tested, fill out an application and go through the process.
Sequence VI: The FDA rules buyer’s clubs illegal. The club is low on cash and unable to obtain meds for its members. Rayon visits his father, cashes in his life insurance policy, and gives Ron ten thousand dollars to save the club.
MARCH 11, 1987
81 – Ron and Rayon watch a press conference held by the FDA. The FDA commissioner announces that citizens with life-threatening illnesses will be permitted to unapproved drugs for their personal use as long as they are prescribed by a doctor. Buyers clubs are now illegal.
82 – At the Lonestar Bar, Ron takes a wad of cash from the paper towel dispenser in the restroom, replaces it with box. He then orders a round of beers for Tucker and some cops.
82 – Rayon informs Ron that all their cards are maxed out and the pharmacy bills are due.
83 – The box from the restroom was for Tucker. Tucker’s father has Alzheimer’s. Ron supplies him Peptide T.
84 – Michael and Ian, two of Ron’s loyalist customers, give Ron a rent house for free to run the buyer’s club from.
84 – Rayon snorting coke is juxtaposed against Ron selling to a support group at Draddy Auditorium.
85-86 – Rayon visits his father, an executive at a bank. He asks for money to help Ron.
What do you want, Raymond?
I’m fine, thanks. And you? Long time no see.
I suppose I should thank you for wearing men’s clothes and not embarrassing me.
Are you ashamed of me? Because I never realized that.
(shaking his head)
God help me.
He is helpin’ you. I got AIDS.
A long beat during which Rayon’s father finally shows some sympathy. Rayon looks like his father’s son for a moment.
I’m sorry, Dad. I found someone who’s been helping me and now I’d like to help him.
87 – Back at his buyer’s club office, Rayon puts on makeup in the mirror, talks to God.
INT. DALLAS BUYERS CLUB – RAYON’S OFFICE – BATHROOM – DAY
Rayon finishes taking Ron’s suit off and looks at his reflection, takes in the lesions on his naked body, grabs a compact and a tube of lipstick, and starts putting making up on his face, holding back tears.
God, when I meet you, I’m gonna look pretty if it’s the last thing I do. I’ll be a super model angel.
88-89 – END OF ACT TWO TURN: Rayon enters Ron’s office. Ron complains that not one doctor will write him a prescription. Rayon then hands him ten thousand in cash. Ron asks where he got it, Rayon tells him he sold his life insurance policy. Ron shakes his hand and Rayon hugs him. Ron isn’t uncomfortable with the gesture, embraces Rayon.
90 – DECISION: At the hospital, Ron enters Eve’s office wearing a sombrero, puts it on Eve. He tells her he’s going to Mexico for drugs, asks for her to write him a prescription. Though she sympathizes with him, she refuses. Ron takes it in stride and leaves.
Sequence I: Using Rayon’s money, Ron travels to Mexico and buys more meds from Dr. Vass. Rayon’s health deteriorates and he dies before Ron gets back.
91 – Rayon begins coughing blood. His boyfriend Sunny takes him to the hospital.
92 – Ron visits Dr. Vass’ clinic for a purchase. Vass shows him new research on anti-vitals and anti-fungals.
92-93 – Eve visits Rayon in the hospital. He’s been taken off AZT and now is only on morphine. The end is near.
93-94 – Back at Vass’ clinic, Ron walks into a room with thousands of butterflies. They land all over his body. He seems at peace for the first time.
94 – On the plane back from Mexico, Ron uses Eve’s prescription pads to forge scripts for the meds he picked up from Vass.
EXT. AIRPLANE – DAY
Ron sits in his seat happily scribbling prescriptions for the drugs he is bringing in.
On the pad we see the name – Dr. Eve Saks, the same pad...
FLASHBACK: ...that Ron took in Eve’s office when she had the sombrero on her face.
94-95 – In a holding room at the airport, an FDA agent questions the validity of the prescriptions. Ron plays it confident and cool, the agent lets him go.
95 – Ron arrives back at the buyer’s club, learns of Rayon’s hospitalization.
95 – Ron enters Rayon’s room and finds only Sunny, eyes bloodshot from crying, folding Rayon’s clothes. Rayon is dead.
96 – Ron finds Sevard and attacks, blaming him for Rayon’s death. Security guards drag Ron out of the hospital.
Sequence II: Moved by Rayon’s death, Ron gives away medication to those who can’t afford it. He creates a newsletter to raise awareness after the FDA shuts down all of his suppliers. He has Wayne file a lawsuit in San Francisco when Texas blocks them from further legal action.
97 – Ron goes back to the motel, gets drunk and hires a girl to dance for him. She tries to go down on him, but he stops her and breaks down in tears.
98 – Outside the buyer’s club, Ron spots Freddie, the young gay man he denied a membership because he didn’t have the money. Freddie holds up a wad of cash.
98 – Inside, Denise approaches Ron, tells him of several folks who can’t afford membership. Ron tells her to give them free meds. When she informs him of their cash problem, he tells her to sell his car.
99-100 – Eve enters Ron’s office at the buyer’s club. When Ron criticizes her for permitting Rayon to be treated with AZT, she reminds him that Rayon was a drug addict and that the one treatment of AZT did not kill him, the disease did. Ron gives her a copy of Lancet Medical Journal Study and tells her to read it.
100-101 – PAINTING PAYOFF 1: Back at Eve’s apartment, she begins to read the Lancet study, but stops. Frustration builds and she takes it out on the wall with a hammer. She then hangs the wildflower painting Ron gave her.
101 – Later that night, Eve goes back to the hospital and instructs Nurse Frazin to lower all of her AIDS patients to the minimum dose of AZT.
101 – POINT OF NO RETURN: Wayne informs Ron that the FDA has shut down all of their suppliers and that the court system in Texas blocked them from further legal action. Ron demands they push to a more sympathetic court, like San Francisco. Wayne gives him the new Dallas Buyers Club flyers.
Sequence III: Ron spreads his newsletter, criticizes Barkley and the CDC for ignoring his research and blocking access to medications. His health deteriorates without meds.
102 – At the hospital, Eve drops off DBC flyers in the waiting room.
102-103 – Ron confronts Barkley and representatives from the Center of Disease Control at Draddy Auditorium. He criticizes their methods, hands out his newsletters to the attendees.
Why was Peptide T cut off? A non-toxic drug, that I have proof works and that according to the National Institute of Mental Health, is completely safe.
Mr. Woodroof, you are nothing but a common drug dealer--
I’m a drug dealer? You’re the fucking drug dealer. People are dying and y’all are up there afraid that we’re gonna find an alternative without you.
See, the pharma companies pay the FDA to push their product. So, fuck no, they don’t want to see my research. I don’t have enough cash in my pocket to make it worth their while.
A SECURITY MAN approaches, escorts Ron away.
I’m gonna be a pain in your ass ’til I’m six feet under. And maybe one day, you’ll get off your ass and start doing your fucking job.
103-104 – Eve sits in front of a medical board led by Sevard. Sevard asks her to resign over the DBC flyer, but she refuses, saying that they’ll have to fire her and storms out.
105-106 – Back at the buyer’s club office, Eve and Ron talk over a beer and seek comfort from each other.
She smiles and they both let go, uneasy with the closeness.
Don’t you miss a regular life?
Regular? What’s that? Doesn’t exist.
Yeah, I guess.
I just want...
Ron looks at her.
He takes the can back.
... an ice-cold beer at Ruby’s. Go dancin’ with my woman. I want kids. I don’t know. I got one life -- mine. But I want someone else’s. I feel I’m fighting for a life I ain’t got the time to live.
Ron downs some beer.
I want it all to mean somethin’.
Eve looks at Ron, studies him.
106 – PAINTING PAYOFF 2: Back her apartment, Eve straightens the wildflower painting.
107 – Ron searches his bathroom, finds he’s nearly out of medication. But something is off — he seems confused, disoriented.
107-108 – Ron’s dementia disorients him while driving. He stops in traffic and gets out of his car. The ringing in his ears is intense. He’s not sure of where he is. Police appear. Fortunately, Tucker is there to help.
108 – Back at Tucker’s house, Tucker injects Ron with Peptide T.
Sequence III: The court in San Francisco, though critical of the FDA, rules against Ron in favor of the FDA. Ron returns to the buyer’s club where a group of his closest friends surprise him and applaud his effort.
SIX MONTHS LATER
109-110 – CLIMAX (External): Appearing at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Ron looks extremely ill. Though the judge criticizes the FDA for “bullying tactics,” he dismisses the case. Ron is defeated.
INT. COURT ROOM – SAN FRANCISCO
Ron, dressed in a conservative suit, is looking extremely ill. Next to him is David Wayne and two other younger ATTORNEYS.
On the opposing side are FDA representatives including Richard Barkley and others who we haven’t ever seen before. They have a team of four attorneys.
The constitution, specifically the ninth amendment, does not state that you have the right to be mentally healthy or physically healthy. It does state that you have a right to chose your own medical care but that is interpreted as medical care that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Judge looks over to the FDA table.
Regarding the FDA, the court is highly disturbed by its bullying tactics and direct interference with a drug whose own agency has found to be non-toxic. The FDA was formed to protect people, not prevent them from getting help.
The Judge sighs.
The law does not seem to make much common sense. If a person has been found to be terminally ill they ought to be able to take just about any drug they feel will help... but that is not the law. Mr. Woodroof, there is not a person in this courtroom who is not moved to compassion by your plight, what is lacking here is the legal authority to intervene. I’m sorry. This case is hereby dismissed.
The Judge bangs the gavel.
110 – Wayne calls Eve, tells her that they lost the case.
110-111 – CLIMAX (Internal): Back at the buyer’s club house, Ron is greeted by a crowd of people who applaud and embrace him.
Following the trial, the FDA in Washington allowed Ron to get Peptide T for his own personal use.
111-112 – CLOSING IMAGES: At the rodeo, Ron, twenty pounds heavier, mounts a bull. The gate swings open and he rides. The camera freezes on a frame of him in control of the bull.
113 – Text appears over black: Ron died on September 12, 1992.
Ron Woodroof died of AIDS on September 12, 1992, seven years after he was diagnosed with HIV.
A lower dose of AZT became widely used in later drug combinations that saved millions of lives.
113 – THE END.