Backstage Interview | 86th Academy Awards

Makeup and Hairstyling

CATEGORY: Makeup and Hairstyling
INTERVIEW WITH: Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews


Q.    Hello.  Congratulations. 
A.    (Adruitha Lee) Thank you.
A.    (Robin Mathews) Thank you.
Q.    So $150 ‑‑ was it $150 or $250?
A.    (Adruitha Lee) It was 250 bucks for my department.  What was your ‑‑
A.    (Robin Mathews) I don't even remember.  It was all my own ‑‑
A.    (Adruitha Lee) It was probably 75 bucks for her.

Q.    All right.  That's insane and shouldn't work.  How did you guys make it work?
Q.    (Moderator) Can we ask you to just stand a little closer to the microphone?  
A.    (Robin Mathews) Sure.
You know, we really didn't have any ‑‑ we didn't have any choice.  Matthew and Jared came to the film so committed and beautiful, and we saw their work and what ‑‑ of course, they lost the weight, and everybody understands that they lost almost 50 pounds; but 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.
A.    (Adruitha Lee) When Matthew came to us and ‑‑ and also Jared, it was like the transformation that they had already made, I mean it was like, wow, okay.  They gave us the freedom to continue on with that and to complete what we needed to do to make them look like the characters, and it was ‑‑ it was great.  They gave us lots of freedom, and they were committed.  We were, too. 

Q.    Hi, I'm right up front here. 
A.    (Adruitha Lee) Hi. 

Q.    Can you guys talk a little bit about Matthew and Jared maybe the first time that they were in full costume and saw themselves in the mirror and dealing with their new bodies for this, obviously what that was like?
A.    (Adruitha Lee) Jared came to us as ‑‑ as Rayon.  We never met Jared until last week. 
A.    (Robin Mathews) At the nominee luncheon.
A.    (Adruitha Lee) Yeah.  He was already in high heels, clothes, a skirt, and he had some makeup on. 
A.    (Robin Mathews) And nails.
A.    (Adruitha Lee) Yeah, nails.  And he was just waiting for me to pull a couple wigs before he met ‑‑ when he went to meet the director.
A.    (Robin Mathews) And I'll tell you a real quick story.  Jared, when he ‑‑ when we both met, he ‑‑ he came as Rayon.  We never met him as Jared.  And he came to the makeup chair and sat down.  He was sizing the both of us up, trying to figure out if he trusted us ‑‑ I'm sorry she, if she trusted us.  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 okay; and I think he trusted Adruitha and I after that.
A.    (Adruitha Lee) His wigs went through a few transformations, too.  There's some funny stories about how we got to where we wanted to get with the look of his brown wig.

Q.    I met you both yesterday at the event.  We have our picture together, Adruitha.  And if you would just briefly tell this audience about the cornmeal and grits story, because it's a wonderful one, and you had this budget the $250, and it's just a classic little story?
A.    (Adruitha Lee) Grits and tire tracks is what I'll say now.  Go ahead.
A.    (Robin Mathews) Well, basically, you know, we ‑‑ it's a $4.5 million budget for the entire film, which is nothing.  And I had ‑‑ we ‑‑ I had a $250 makeup budget for my film.  I had to figure out how to make it work.  So I went back to old‑school techniques, you know, back to stuff they did in the silent days:  Highlight and contour, paint and powder, out‑of‑the‑kit tricks; and I had to make it work.  I didn't have a choice.  So I was looking at pictures of ‑‑ I did a lot of research on AIDS in the '80s and saw that they had this rash that had little yellow pustules on it.  I could figure out to do the rash, but I couldn't figure out how to do the little yellow pustules.  I said maybe it kind of looks like grits and cornmeal maybe powdered milk, whatever; and I just experimented on my hand, until it go the right composition and took a tweezer and did one piece of grit, one piece of cornmeal over and over again until the color was right.  And it looked great, and I ‑‑ I thought to myself, you know, Matthew loved it.  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 ‑‑ we could tell when we were shooting it.  I can't put grits and cornmeal on your face, dude.  Like, what?  And he ‑‑ he insisted I do it, because it looked right.  It matched the pictures.  So I'm really glad it turned out okay, because I thought it might be the end of my career. 

Q.    Thank you.  Hi.  Could you tell me where you're going to keep the Oscar in your homes?
A.    (Adruitha Lee) Where's she at? 
A.    (Robin Mathews) She's right here.
A.    (Adruitha Lee) Where am I going keep it?  It's ‑‑ I'm going to sleep with it for a while.
A.    (Robin Mathews) I am, too.  I'm going to sleep with it.  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.


These transcripts may not be reproduced except as brief quotes used in conjunction with news reporting about the 85th Academy Awards®. All content Copyright 2012 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Oscar®," "Oscars®," "Academy Awards®," "Academy Award®," "A.M.P.A.S.®" and "Oscar Night®" are the trademarks, and the ©Oscar® statuette is the registered design mark and copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Additional information regarding the "Terms & Conditions of Use" and "Legal Regulations for Using Intellectual Properties of the Academy" may be accessed online at

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Communications Department
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
Phone (310) 247-3090
FAX (310) 271-3395