$250 Makeup Budget for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Goes a Long Way


Dallas Buyers Club makeupI was beginning to wonder if Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa may actually have a chance at the Oscar for Best Makeup & Hairstyling after it won for Best Special Makeup Effects with the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, but can we really expect the Academy to stand up there on Oscar night and have someone read off, “And the Oscar goes to… Stephen Prouty and Tony Gardner for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa“? Nah, it’s just another one of those “it’s great to be nominated” things and a new story from Vanity Fair lets us in on why Robin Mathews‘ work on Dallas Buyers Club is so impressive:

Robin Mathews’s budget for the makeup on Dallas Buyers Club was $250. That’s $250 not just to transform Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto from near-death AIDS patients to relatively healthy-looking human beings, sometimes five times in a single day. That’s not $250 to recreate the skin rashes common in AIDS patients in the 1980s. That’s not even $250 just to manage the hair and makeup for a cast of extras. That’s $250 for the entire 28-day-production.

The Academy just gasped when they heard that,” Mathews told Vanity Fair. Mathews, whose worked on The Twilight Saga: Eclipse as well as for “Playboy” described the film as “the most under-budgeted movie I’ve ever been a part of shooting” and with such a short shoot and both the lead actors losing so much weight for their role, makeup was a huge part of making scenes believable from one to the next, especially considering films aren’t shot in sequence.

“We had to take them back and forth from their sickest look to their healthiest look, up to five times in one day,” Mathews said. “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.”

The only real trick that was employed seems to be something called “dental plumpers” to make McConaughey’s cheeks look fuller, but the rest seems to have been all makeup and what I have to assume was some occasionally creative lighting (correction, no creative lighting, it’s all makeup per Mathews in the comments below), though the article doesn’t go into that.

Read the full feature at Vanity Fair right here.