During her acceptance speech for her third Academy Award, Meryl Streep had two very important partners to thank. First was her husband of 33 years, Don Gummer. Second was her makeup artist and hair stylist for the past four decades who was also honored by the Academy this year, J. Roy Helland.
When in the last time you heard about a 37 year long relationship in Hollywood? Even longer than her marriage, Meryl has worked with the same makeup artist. I guess it shows how a good working partnership can always enhance the final product.
This pair’s work created one of the most impressive character portrayals of the year, when Streep became Margaret Thatcher for the biopic The Iron Lady. It only makes sense that both of them would receive awards for their efforts on this truly extraordinary piece of work.
During her speech, Meryl took plenty of time talking about first meeting Helland during a play in New York. Later, they had their first movie collaboration, Sophie’s Choice. And they’ve been together ever since. From Karen Blixon to Francesca Johnson to Julia Child, they’ve created characters together.
J. Roy Helland is obviously fortunate to be working with the most talented actress of our decade, but Streep was also quick to point out just how blessed she’s been to have this man by her side. Other than her husband, he was the only individual thanked in Streep’s moving acceptance speech.
Business partnerships such as this one are inspiring in so many ways. They show us the value that we should place on truly talented co-workers. They remind us that working partners can be just as difficult to find as romantic partners, and that the relationships can be just as fruitful and fulfilling.
After his Oscar win, Helland said, “For us — Meryl and I — it’s all about not having it be her, but having it be whoever the character is.” You could tell that they approach this task together, each contributing their own expertise to the job of transforming Streep into her character. They feel jointly invested in the process, even if Streep is the one who normally receives the accolades. It’s nice to see them share in the honor this time.