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Jared Leto to Receive Breakout Performance Honor at Hollywood Film Awards (Exclusive)

The actor is being recognized for his portrayal, opposite Matthew McConaughey, of an AIDS-afflicted transsexual in "Dallas Buyers Club," for which he shed 40 pounds.

Jared Leto, the colorful character actor -- and well-known frontman for the popular band 30 Seconds to Mars -- will receive the Hollywood Breakout Performance Award for his work in Jean-Marc Vallee's Dallas Buyers Club at the 17th annual Hollywood Film Awards -- the first awards show of the 2013 season -- on Oct. 21 at the Beverly Hilton, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. (The Hollywood Film Awards is owned by affiliates of THR parent company Guggenheim Partners.)

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Previous recipients of the Hollywood Breakout Performance Award include Carey Mulligan, Michael Shannon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and John Hawkes.

Leto, 41, has been acting for years. He first rose to prominence on the TV show My So-Called Life (1994-1995), and then transitioned into films, including Steve James' Prefontaine (1997), Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998), James Mangold's Girl, Interrupted (1999), Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (2000), David Fincher's Panic Room (2002), Mary Harron's American Psycho (2000), Andrew Niccol's Lord of War (2005) and J.P. Schaefer's Chapter 27 (2007), a Mark David Chapman biopic for which he famously gained 67 pounds.

In Dallas Buyers Club, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, Leto is virtually unrecognizable as Rayon, a transsexual -- inspired by a real person -- who is diagnosed with AIDS during the early days of the epidemic. Leto's character becomes an unlikely associate and business partner of Matthew McConaughey's Ron Woodroof, who begins importing and selling nontoxic, anti-viral medications that have not been approved by the FDA but have proven vastly more effective than any that have been. They don't stop the progression of the deadly plague, but they slow it considerably. (Leto shed 40 pounds to play the part.)

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The Hollywood Film Awards are determined by founder and executive director Carlos de Abreu and an advisory committee. Last month, the Hollywood Film Awards and Dick Clark Productions, which also produced the Golden Globe Awards, entered into a partnership that could lead to the ceremony being televised in future years. Over the past 10 years, Hollywood Film Awards honorees went on to garner a total of 96 Oscar nominations and 34 Oscars.

De Abreu tells THR, “Jared's portrayal of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club is infused with humanity and bravery and is nothing short of a revelation. This is an exceptional tour-de-force of acting." 

Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottFeinberg for additional news and analysis.