Make-up artist Rick Findlater.

Make-up artist Rick Findlater.

WHEN it comes to award ceremonies, Rick Findlater is usually back at a hotel making stars look their best.

But the Australian hair and make-up artist will now be at the centre of the action after being nominated for both British and American academy awards for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

''I'm just going to suck it up and enjoy the whole thing,'' Findlater says from the home he is renovating on four hectares at Georgica, near Lismore in northern New South Wales.

Compared with Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables, Naomi Watts for The Impossible and Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook, Findlater is the country's unknown Oscar nominee this year.

Rather than sharing the honour with publicists and managers, he was alone at home with his black labrador Diesel when he discovered his nomination on the Oscars website - then calmly went to bed.

''I think I'd crack many bottles of champagne if I was ever lucky enough to win, along with my colleagues,'' he says just as calmly. ''But, for now, I'm just enjoying the fact that I'm even nominated.''

Findlater, 45, was a waiter when he went to make-up school then made a life-changing trip to Vancouver as it was taking off as a film and television production centre. He started on commercials, movies and The X-Files then came back to Australia to work on the TV series Flipper with a young Jessica Alba, then Roar with Heath Ledger.

Findlater has since been busy in New Zealand, working with Peter Jackson on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and The Lovely Bones and James Cameron on Avatar. He is returning in May to work on the next two Hobbit movies.

The challenge on The Hobbit was its scale, Findlater says. He worked with a hair, make-up and prosthetics team of 27 to prepare 13 dwarfs, 13 ''scale double'' dwarfs who made Gandalf look taller and 13 ''stunt'' dwarfs, as well as Bilbo Baggins and other characters for 266 exhausting days.