PARK CITY, Utah – Matthew McConaughey happily chowed down on a gourmet three-course meal at a private dinner for his new film "Mud" at the Grey Goose lounge during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night, but the actor is still a long way from his normal self.
"I have put on 27 pounds," McConaughey, who recently shed a shocking 47 pounds from his already-lean frame in just four months for a role as an AIDS patient in a new film, told FOX411's Pop Tarts column. "My mom didn't like the weight loss, but she gives me hell about all kinds of stuff. And the only thing the kids said was, 'Papa, why is your neck getting so long?'"
But despite all the alarming photographs of McConaughey looking frail and unhealthy on the New Orleans set last month, the actor assured us that his energy levels never dipped.
"You're cleansed, (my body) was hyper aware," he insisted, revealing that his daily diet consisted of only fruit in the morning, 5 ounces of fish with vegetables for both lunch and dinner along with some red wine.
However, it seems McConaughey has become ultra-critical of his "before" body.
"I saw the 'Mud' trailer and thought I was huge," he said of the Sundance film, which was shot before his weight loss regiment. "It felt like such a long time ago."
And taking on such challenging characters takes its toll, both physically and financially. McConaughey has successfully established himself as the ultimate catch for independent movie makers, as his role alongside Reese Witherspoon in "Mud" was custom-written just for him.
But indie films don't pay like blockbusters.
"It is no coincidence that my last seven films have all been independent films. I wasn't thinking about whether it was studio or independent, but on the character," McConaughey said. "They don't pay me as well. It's ironic. I had my best, most fun and creative year making films a couple of years ago and yet I lost money for the first time."
And even though the paychecks might not be what one might anticipate for a big-name star, the Texas native has no desire to go behind the camera.
"I am really enjoying just being an actor. I have been offered to produce and I had said 'no thank you.' Directing and producing is a two-year commitment. I want to do my work, nail it, and go back to my family," McConaughey added. "The simplification (of only acting) is healthy for me. When you have a family, you have to be wise with choosing your co-curriculars."
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay