Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Dallas natives in Texas Film Hall of Fame

Here' s my report for the Dallas Morning News from the Texas Film Hall of Fame. It should soon be behind a paywall, so I present it here in its entirety.

Special Contributor

AUSTIN — On the way to school in Oak Cliff, young Stephen Tobolowsky would act out plays. On Thursday, the character actor whose name you don’t know but whose face you do was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame.

He was joined by fellow Dallas native Robin Wright, San Antonio’s Henry Thomas (E.T., All the Pretty Horses) and Houston’s Annette O’Toole (TV’s Smallville) at Austin Studios on the former site of the city’s airport.
Photo by Joe O'Connell

Tobolowsky, who has acted in more than 100 film and TV projects, including Groundhog Day and Memento, said he had a revelation about his career while playing the role of a professional bass fisherman years ago. A car arrived, he thought to take him to the set, but the driver had mistaken Tobolowsky for a pilot he’d been sent to pick up. Then, said pilot showed up, thinking Tobolowsky must be the cabbie.

“In one day, I was mistaken for both a jet pilot and a taxi driver en route to my role as a bass fisherman,” he said. “That is the life of a character actor.”
Photo by Joe O'Connell

Princess Bride director Rob Reiner introduced Wright at the ceremony and said he had seen more than 100 young actresses before Wright arrived. “She walked in the room and I said, ‘Oh, my God, she is the princess bride.’ ”

While born in Dallas, Wright was raised in California. However, she returned yearly and fondly recalls jaunts to Cedar Creek Lake, where she swam and ate watermelon.

Wright, with a recent role in Netflix’s House of Cards, said the joy of her career has been “sharing stories and receiving them on a daily basis and getting paid for it.”

It’s the 13th year the Austin Film Society has inducted new members to the Texas Film Hall of Fame, which raises funds to aid independent filmmakers and serves as a kickoff to the South by Southwest Film Festival. Also honored this year was Richard Linklater’s 1993 teen film, Dazed and Confused, which received the Star of Texas Award.

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, an old Linklater pal, presented the award for what he called one of his favorite films of the 1990s.

Austin Film Society founder Linklater said he was still learning his craft while making Dazed and Confused and had his uneasy moments.

“I had such high ambitions for what I was doing,” he said. “If I ever felt less than certain, I could see how hard the cast was working and realize how much it meant to them.”

Actress Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (TV’s Friday Night Lights) serenaded the cast with a sultry rendition of the Led Zeppelin song “Dazed and Confused.” Linklater’s film is named for the song, but he was unable to get rights to use it in the film.

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