Updated Feb. 29, 2012

On Feb. 26, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland won the 2012 Achievement in Makeup Oscar for their work on The Iron Lady. In the acceptance speech, Helland thanked Coulier for his “brilliant prosthetics” and Meryl Streep for keeping him employed for 37 years.

2012 Academy Awards: J. Roy Helland and Mark Coulier accepting 2012 Oscar
J. Roy Helland and Mark Coulier during acceptance speech Photo by Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.

“I’m a child of the Saturday and Sunday double-double features, so getting to work in the movies is a dream come true,” Helland said.

“I’d just like to say what an amazing experience,” said Coulier. He went on to thank Streep; [make-up artists] Barrie Gower and Stephen Murphy; his kids, Isabelle and Ethan, his wife, Amanda, and his dad.

This is the first Oscar win for both Coulier and Helland, who were recognized for transforming actress Streep into former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Coulier won Emmy Awards for Arabian Nights and the 1998 mini-series Merlin, and Helland won an Emmy Award for Angels in America.

Helland told us via email that he started celebrating the win immediately after they got off stage: “They have bars set up everywhere! Most appreciated,” he said.

2012 Academy Awards: Meryl Streep congratulates J. Roy Helland backstage
Meryl Streep congratulates Helland Photo by Todd Wawrychuk/©A.M.P.A.S

At the backstage ‘Thank-You Cam’ in the Hollywood & Highland Center (where the awards were held), Coulier thanked “everyone on my crew,” including Leon Smikle and Emma Sheffield. He also thanked producers Damian Jones and Anita Overland and director Phyllida Lloyd, “who was so amazing and used to bring us in a drink at the end of the night and say thank you personally quite often,” he said.

Helland thanked actress Liv Ullmann for first getting him into the movie business by taking him to Europe to work. “And to Elliott Davis, our unbelievably fantastic cinematographer, who every day went far more than the extra mile to make sure that everything that Mark and I did was on camera.” (Helland told us later via email that Ullmann left him “a lovely long message … She is a dear friend and very happy and proud for my win.”)

In a backstage interview, the artists discussed working with Streep.

“For us, Meryl and I, it’s all about not having it be her, but having it be whoever the character is. And it’s great fun,” Helland said.

For Coulier, the process of aging Streep was more about picking elements of Thatcher’s look and transposing them onto the actress while still giving her the freedom of expression and movement.

When asked how his BAFTA and Oscar win might affect his career, Coulier responded, “Hopefully things will go up from this point in time.”

2012 Academy Awards: Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland with their Oscars
Coulier and Helland Photos by Todd Wawrychuk/©A.M.P.A.S

See Issue 94 of Make-Up Artist magazine for more details on The Iron Lady. And click here for extra photos of the make-up work.

Click here for exclusive video commentary from Coulier, and follow this link for an exclusive thank-you video.

The Iron Lady photo © 2011 The Weinstein Company

2012 Academy Awards: J. Roy Helland and Mark Coulier receive Oscars from Jennifer Lopez
Actress Jennifer Lopez presents an Oscar to Mark Coulier (right) while J. Roy Helland starts the acceptance speech. Photo by Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.
2012 Academy Awards: Mark Coulier gets his Oscar engraved
Coulier gets his Oscar engraved at the Governors Ball. Photo by Darren Decker/©A.M.P.A.S.
2012 Academy Awards: Mark Coulier with his engraved Oscar
Coulier with his engraved Oscar. Photo by Darren Decker/©A.M.P.A.S.
2012 Academy Awards: J. Roy Helland with his engraved Oscar
Helland with his engraved Oscar. Photo by Darren Decker/©A.M.P.A.S.
2012 Academy Awards: Meryl Streep and J. Roy Helland celebrate their wins
Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Helland celebrate at the Governors Ball. Photo by Darren Decker/©A.M.P.A.S.
2012 Academy Awards: Amanda and Mark Coulier on the red carpet
Coulier and wife Amanda arrived at the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Photo by Heather Ikei/©A.M.P.A.S.