Friday was a big day in Fort Worth.
Mayor Betsy Price declared Nov. 6 Betty Buckley Day and British actor Malcolm McDowell got a hat. Not just any hat, mind you, but a Shady Oak presented to him by Fort Worth-born actor Bill Paxton.
Both honors were awarded at the Lone Star Film Festival ball at the Fort Worth Club. More to the point of the evening, actress/vocalist Buckley also received the Stephen Bruton Award, named in honor of the late Fort Worth musician, while McDowell — in addition to receiving the headgear — was presented the Achievement in Film Acting Award.
Buckley, who was given her award by longtime friend and fellow musician with Cowtown roots T Bone Burnett, said she was especially honored because Bruton meant so much to her. She recounted how he helped emotionally rescue her after 9-11 when she was living in New York City.
“I was just visionless. It scared me so badly,” she recalled, saying how he dropped everything to visit her. “That moment in my life brought me back to a sense of purpose.”
If Buckley’s acceptance speech was touching, McDowell went for laughs.
When Paxton was reeling off words to describe McDowell that included “cocky” and other possibly unflattering terms, the actor yelled from the tables, “You’re supposed to be giving me an award!”
Once onstage, McDowell declared his love for Fort Worth.
“This is a very great town and you are a lucky load of bastards,” he said. “I want Ed [Bass] to come live in my town.”
Earlier in the evening, Bass and Johnny Campbell were honored with the Visionary Award for developing Sundance Square. In addition, actor Esai Morales presented a check for $5,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Worth.
In the afternoon, Paxton, McDowell and actress Joanna Kerns appeared on a panel called Career Conversations at Sundance Square Pavilion.
They talked about how they got started in the business as well as successes and frustrations, with Kerns noting she was always “typecast as the nice mom.”
Paxton said that one of his disappointments has been not being able to bring to screen a film version of the novel The Bottoms by Texas writer Joe Lansdale.
“I’ve gone to hell and back trying to get this movie made,” he said.
He also said that if someone had to pick an under-the-radar film of his to see, it would be the 1992 movie One False Move, which also starred Billy Bob Thornton.
“It’s become a lost film in a way,” he said.
But, unsurprisingly, it was McDowell who kept the mid-day crowd laughing with his reminiscences. Asked why he became an actor, he replied succinctly, “I became an actor to meet girls. It worked.”
The Lone Star Film Festival continues through Sunday at the AMC Palace and Four Day Weekend Theatre.