One of the Dallas Buyers Club’s six nominations at the 86th Academy Awards could result in first-time nominee Robin Mathews landing one of the coveted gongs for her makeup work on the film.
What makes her potential accolade even more astounding though is that her entire budget for her work was a measly $250, which needed to be spread across the film’s 28-day-production.
With these supplies, Mathews needed to transform Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto from healthy human beings to individuals on the brink of death because of the AIDS virus.
Mathews told Vanity Fair that when the Academy heard about her financial limitations they “just gasped.” It’s not as if Mathews is a novice who was just working on Dallas Buyers Club to showcase her talents.
In fact she was worked on numerous projects, which includes various documentaries, as well as the big budgeted, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Mathews admitted that Jean-Marc Vallee’s hard-hitting drama was “the most under-budgeted movie [she’d] ever been a part of shooting.”
What made Mathews task even more impossible was that McConaughey and Leto needed to lose 40 pounds in order to portray their characters at their sickest. However, when the AIDS treatment drugs start to kick in, they then put the weight back on. The movie’s low budget meant that its shoot lasted for just 23 days, and scenes were filmed drastically out of sequence. Mathews was responsible for making the two actors look thin and ill in one scene, before altering them to appear healthy in the next one.
“We had to take them back and forth from their sickest look to their healthiest look, up to five times in one day,” Mathews noted. “They maintained that 40-pound weight loss throughout. So when you see them in the film, and they look like they’re 25 pounds heavier and healthier because of the medication, that’s just makeup.”
Except for “dental plumpers” that McConaughey placed in his cheeks to make his face look fatter, it was all down to Mathews’ “pain and powder.”
She explained her process in more detail, noting, “I lined the trailer walls with pictures of skulls and skeletons and looked for the bones I needed to draw in. I basically highlight and contour every bone or tendon, and sometimes veins, that I can find in their entire body. It’s full body makeup.”
Mathews also revealed that in order to depict the rashes that AIDS patients acquire, she used “grits and cornmeal, because it was affordable.” Meanwhile, she admitted that she’s still trying to get to grips with being an Oscar nominee, exclaiming, “It’s just so hard to wrap your head around it. You’re just sitting here, stunned a little bit, happily stunned.”
Mathews’ work on Dallas Buyers Club is up for the Academy Award against Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger.