3 things you missed at Texas Film Awards: Jonathan Majors, Margo Martindale, more stars

Jonathan Majors, Margo Martindale, Kevin Smith, Luke Wilson and Richard Linklater walk into Willie Nelson's ranch.

Oh, no, that's not the start of a joke. That actually happened March 3, when Texas Film Awards took over Luck, TX. The annual ceremony, thrown by Austin Film Society, honors the achievements of Texans who have contributed to the world of cinema, inducting a few luminaries each year into the Texas Film Hall of Fame. This year's honorees: "Creed III" star Majors (recipient of the rising star award), character actress Martindale, producer Michael De Luca and indie film power couple Janet and John Pierson.

The evening also serves as a fundraiser for AFS and its work to bolster the local film community.

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"We do have a special community here," Rebecca Campbell, CEO of AFS, told the Statesman's Kelsey Bradshaw on the red carpet before the awards ceremony. "I think it really helps that we have this cool arthouse cinema where a lot of the filmmaker community gathers. ... The filmmakers all know each other. They try to help each other."

Here are three things you missed.

1. Stars at night, big and bright, etc.

It wasn't just the honorees lending star power to the evening. Film producer Elizabeth Avellan (of the "Spy Kids" franchise and more) served as honorary co-chair of the gala alongside "Overheard" host Evan Smith. She walked the red carpet near Luck's iconic chapel, as did AFS co-founder Linklater, actor Sonny Carl Davis (the "Evil Bong" franchise) and actresses Becca Tobin ("Glee") and Jamie-Lynn Sigler ("The Sopranos"), both transplants to Austin.

The dress code for the evening: cowboy glam, as evidenced by sparkling red-and-black Western fringe worn by emcee Edi Patterson ("The Righteous Gemstones"). Patterson did some bits about her hometown of Texas City — it might not have the cool restaurants of Austin, she said, but it does have refinery fumes and dollar stores — and mentioned that she cut her improv teeth at the Hideout Theatre. Black Pumas musician Adrian Quesada led the house band.

Filmmaker Richard Linklater, from left, and honorees Janet Pierson and John Pierson attend the Austin Film Society's Texas Film Awards at Luck, TX, Willie Nelson’s famed movie set-turned-venue, on March 3 in Spicewood.
Filmmaker Richard Linklater, from left, and honorees Janet Pierson and John Pierson attend the Austin Film Society's Texas Film Awards at Luck, TX, Willie Nelson’s famed movie set-turned-venue, on March 3 in Spicewood.

Honorees from the world of cinema naturally invite colleagues to introduce them. Wilson presented De Luca with his award, shouting out the Warner Bros. CEO's talent for artistic collaboration before a supercut of De Luca's work played — "The Mask," "Moneyball," "Captain Phillips" and "Boogie Nights" among the impressive resume.

"Justified" creator Graham Yost introduced Martindale (and actor Bryan Cranston congratulated her in a video bit). Director Scott Cooper heralded Majors' honor. "Clerks" filmmaker Smith introduced the Piersons, celebrating John's influential championship of his own early work and Pierson's long tenure as head of South by Southwest Film Festival. A reel highlighting the Piersons' work behind the scenes was a testament to their relationship and influence on the American film canon.

"John and Janet are superheroes," said Smith, who knows a few things about superheroes.

2. From Texas sky to Hollywood lights for Jonathan Majors

Jonathan Majors was honored with the rising star award on March 3 during the Texas Film Awards in Spicewood.
Jonathan Majors was honored with the rising star award on March 3 during the Texas Film Awards in Spicewood.

Cooper, who directed Majors in the 2017 movie "Hostiles," spoke highly of the actor's sensitivity, intelligence and complexity. It was obvious from the moment Majors stepped on set that he was an exceptional talent, Cooper said.

Or, as "Hostiles" co-star Christian Bale put it in Cooper's recollection: "God____, he's good."

"That's a lot from him," Cooper said.

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Taking the podium, "Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania" star Majors explained that he "came up in Georgetown," then moved up to Dallas, spent time on his grandpa's farm in Waco and did some of his growing up in other Texas spots like Duncanville.

"Everything I learned and understood about people is from Texas," Majors said, name-checking Texaco and H-E-B as places he gained that education.

Majors, 33, didn't return home to Texas for more than a decade after he left to pursue acting, he said. He didn't want to come back until he'd made something of himself, he explained. And once he did, he found himself renewed by time spent with his mother under the Texas sky.

3. Margo Martindale thanks a 'damn good place to grow up'

Margo Martindale was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame on March 3 during the Texas Film Awards in Spicewood.
Margo Martindale was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame on March 3 during the Texas Film Awards in Spicewood.

We should all have a hype man as good as Yost. When introducing Jacksonville native Martindale, he spoke of her as a legend from "almost in the big thicket" of East Texas, who spent her adolescence in a Milwaukee brace and volunteered in the Rusk State Hospital, putting on a play with the patients.

Martindale received 22 scholarship offers after high school, he said, then recounting how her father's death led to financial straits for the Martindales that forced her mother to work at the country club they once attended. "Money doesn't matter. Hell, money almost ruined us," Martindale's mother said in Yost's retelling.

Yost told the story of a young Martindale acting in a production of "The Threepenny Opera" with Christopher Reeve and Jonathan Frakes. She dated Frakes, he said, until the actor's other girlfriend showed up. Martindale and the girlfriend became best friends and moved to New York together, as the story went.

Martindale kept her acceptance speech brief, mostly focusing on her Texas ties. She recounted meeting her husband, a Frisco native, while she was waiting tables in New York. She waxed poetic about feeling "blessed to be brung up" in the Lone Star State.

"Thanks for making this Texas gal feel mighty proud," she said.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Jonathan Majors, Margo Martindale honored at Texas Film Awards 2023