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'We had no money or time for Dallas Buyers Club'

Adruitha Lee, hair stylist, along with Robin Mathews have a nomination for Dallas Buyers Club in the Makeup and Hairstyling category at the 86th Academy Awards. In an email interview with Dhara Vora, she recalls the behind the scenes experience

Two movies that you’ve worked on this year are battling it out at the Oscars. What were your experiences while working on Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) and 12 Years A Slave?
Oh my god! 12 Years A Slave was a labour of love. It was shot unpretentiously in the summer; it was a project that I wanted to do for a very long time. It was a hard project to do. The difference being both were set in two different time periods and were based on different subject matters. I was thrilled to be working with the director — Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), and be able to help him with his vision on this movie. It was a difficult subject and different from DBC.


Jared Leto and Mathew McConaughey in a still from Dallas Buyers Club

DBC involved two good looking men and transforming their looks unlike ever seen before. What was the process to design the hair for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto?
With Matthew we did everything we could; I pulled pictures for the character (Ron) and brought it to the production office. I had everything that I needed to make it look real, and from that period: change Matthew ’s hair, the cut, the colour, and the texture. With Rayon (played by Leto) we tried on several wigs, and went through several things, because Rayon’s character was most specific to the film and Jean-Marc (Vallée, the director) wanted it
that way.


(From left) Adruitha Lee, Matthew McConaughey and makeup artist Robin Mathews at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon

What was your brief for designing the hair of the cast?
Jean-Marc wanted everything to look real, not over-the-top. Matthew had already lost weight and the direction for me was to make him look like he was in 1985 Texas. With Rayon, he had very specific look and it took me a while to create the wig. What I had to keep in mind for Rayon while doing the design, was that we had a transgender who didn’t have a lot of money, did a lot of drugs and had AIDS, so he couldn’t look like a rich person.

A few memorable anecdotes while working on Dallas Buyers Club...
Jared and I had an interesting time coming up with the different looks for his character; the funniest thing was, the brown wig that Rayon wears in most of the frames; it worked when I took it out to the parking lot and drove a car over it to try and make it look as bad. Jean-Marc liked it but had no idea what I had done. That was pretty funny, as I didn’t tell anybody, until the movie was over. I still haven’t discussed it face-to-face with Jared. The first time I revealed it was during the nominations process, and you must have seen the looks I got, but I had to be honest.

On a lighter note, which of the actors had been the most particular about the way their hair were done?
(Laughs) Yes, I would say probably Rayon was the most particular, because Jared had an idea of what Rayon should look like. Matthew was very good about letting me do what I exactly needed to do.

Take Two
> The funniest and most challenging work: Spring Breakers is the most fun film of my career. The most challenging film was 12 Years A Slave because of the conditions that we had to work on. DBC was difficult because we had no money, or time.
> Hollywood’s best hair: I’d be a bit biased here; Brad Pitt has great hair, and of course, Angelina Jolie.

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