Focus Features’ “The Dallas Buyers Club” arrived in Toronto for its world premiere Sept. 7 after more than two decades in development.

Screenwriter Craig Borten told the audience at the Princess of Wales Theater that he had first met protagonist Ron Woodroof in 1992, shortly before he passed away after six years of smuggling unapproved drugs into the the U.S. for the Dallas Buyers Club.

Following sustained applause, the post-midnight Q&A session featured Matthew McConaughey discussing his weight loss of nearly 40 pounds (“I actually had a lot of energy at that weight”) and the need to summon the emotions of rage, desolation, isolation and fear.

“My wife (Camila Alves) wasn’t too fond of it,” he said of the weight loss.

The $4 million film was shot before last Christmas in New Orleans by Jean-Marc Vallee with few breaks. “There was no time for a prank,” said McConaughey.

Jennifer Garner told the crowd that she was most impressed with how much got done in so little time. “It looks so big even though it was an itsy bitsy film,” she said.

At the after-party at Cibo, producer Robbie Brenner admitted that she had spent about a dozen years on the project but never lost faith.

“It really is what I expected it to be and I’m amazed at how we were able to get New Orleans to look like Dallas,” she added.