Updated March 3, 2014
Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews won the 2014 Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar for their work on Dallas Buyers Club. It was the first Oscar win for both.
Presenters Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson announced the results during the 86th annual Academy Awards ceremony, held March 2 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
During a brief acceptance speech, Mathews thanked the academy for fighting for the hair and make-up of the film, “You fought for it and even fulfilled every dream we’ve ever had.”
She went on to thank friends and family, actors Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto—who won acting Oscars that night—for their support and for letting the artists “transform and torture” them and director Jean-Marc Vallée, “a visionary,” for choosing them.
“And, finally, for all the victims of AIDS, we are so lucky and blessed to be able to bring your story to the forefront of the younger generation today that doesn’t understand AIDS ’85. We’re very blessed. Thank you,” said Mathews.
Lee and Mathews were recognized for the make-up and hairstyling for the film in its entirety; Dallas Buyers Club had a make-up budget of $250.
When asked during a press interview backstage how they made the small budget work, Mathews said, “We didn’t have any choice. Matthew and Jared came to the film so committed and beautiful … the committed work they were doing, the acting was insane. And we also—this is a labor of love. We have to do this, because they’re bringing their A‑game, and we have to do it for them and for Jean‑Marc, our director; we all as the crew members needed to bring it for them. And so we said 250 bucks, 75 bucks we’ll do it.”
On working with the actors, Lee and Mathews talked about only meeting Leto (below with Mathews) as his character Rayon during the course of filming. Mathews said the moment of gaining Rayon’s trust came during a proposed eyebrow waxing: “And so I said, ‘Hey, what do you think about waxing off all your eyebrows?’ And she goes, ‘Yeah. I just waxed my entire body, so why not go for broke?’ And I heat up the wax, got ready to pull them off; and right as I was going to pull the eyebrows off, she grabs my hand in her little Southern voice and goes, ‘Sweetheart, make it quick.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, no pressure there,’ but I pulled them off and we were OK, and I think he trusted Adruitha and I after that.”
Trust and advocacy also came from McConaughey. When Mathews had to create an out-of-the-kit rash effect on the actor, using cornmeal and grits, she said she was leery of putting the concoction on the actor on the chance it might ruin what looked to be a break-out role. “Matthew was a huge advocate of it. He says, ‘It looks wonderful. You have to do this.’ I said ‘This is your big break‑out film.’ We could tell when we were shooting it. ‘I can’t put grits and cornmeal on your face, dude.’ … He insisted I do it, because it looked right. It matched the pictures [of actual AIDS victims]. So I’m really glad it turned out OK, because I thought it might be the end of my career.”
This was the first Oscar nomination for make-up department head Mathews. She was also a department head on such films as The Paperboy, Fire with Fire and the upcoming Wild. Lee, the film’s hair department head, has worked as department head on such films as Friends with Benefits, Killing Them Softly, Warm Bodies and 12 Years a Slave; this was her first Oscar nomination. See Issue 105 of Make-Up Artist magazine for more on Dallas Buyers Club.
Lee and Mathews were asked during the backstage interview where they would keep their Oscars: both women said they were going to sleep with the statue for a while.
“Look, this is my answer for the rest of my life. I’ve devoted my life to my career; and when anybody asks me if I’m like married or have children, I’ll say, ‘No I have an Oscar,’” said Mathews.