Oscars: Meryl Streep’s ‘Iron Lady’ makeup was a low-budget affair


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During his acceptance speech, makeup artist J. Roy Helland thanked Meryl Streep for continuing to work with him after 37 years — through films including ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ ‘Out of Africa,’ ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ and, in 2011, ‘The Iron Lady.’

Backstage after claiming the gold statuette, he elaborated on his longstanding relationship with the two-time Oscar winner (who was up for her own Academy Award on Sunday night). He said he still finds it “fascinating” to watch the 62-year-old’s face change as she ages.


“It’s a great joy, and we have a really good time, which is why we like to do it, still,” Helland said. “It’s fascinating to make [her makeup] look different. A long, long time ago I probably got the best lesson in makeup, which was someone said, ‘Don’t paint what you see; paint what you want.’ So for us — Meryl and I — it’s all about not having it be her but having it be whoever the character is.”

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Less fun, Helland said, were the budget constraints on the $14-million production of “The Iron Lady.” He said he was under pressure to work fast and felt grateful that Streep was willing to sit still for 2 1/2 hours each morning before heading to set.

“When they budgeted [the film], they didn’t consider that we would be doing that much old age for that amount of time,” he recalled. “I was allowed to have five wigs made, and they were rented, and that was it — covering over 40 years.”

It was the first Oscar for Helland and his co-winner, Mark Coulier.

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