Jonathan Majors has been busy. If you didn't already know him fromThe Last Black Man in San Francisco(2019), you might recognize him as Kang the Conqueror in MCU's latest Ant Man installment. His latest project, Creed III, just released on March 3, the same night Majors graced Austin with his presence at the 2023 Texas Film Awards.
Taking place at Willie Nelson's ranch, Luck, TX — itself a part of film history as the former set of Nelson's Red Headed Stranger (1975) — the 21st Annual Texas Film Awards honored Texas-born, Texas-raised, and Texas-claimed legends who have had a deep impact on the film industry. Among the honorees were past Head of SXSW Janet Pierson, along with her husband John Pierson, as well as Margot Martindale (Cocaine Bear, among many others), and Warner Bros. CEO Mike De Luca.
Majors was there to receive the Rising Star award, following in the footsteps of other Texas greats such as Owen Wilson (2003) and Jessie Plemons (2016). Born in California, Majors grew up in Texas, with stints outside Austin in Georgetown, regular visits to his grandfather's farm in Waco, and high school years in Cedar Hill near Dallas.
CultureMap caught up with the ascendant Texas-raised actor on the red carpet before the ceremony, asking what Texas has meant to him in his journey and how it continues to shape the stories he tells.
"You raised me up," Majors said. "You kept me safe somehow; all my first teachers are here; all my first protectors are here: From teachers to parents, to siblings, this Texas sky holds a lot of memories for me, so it makes sense on a day like this to come back home and celebrate those who helped you get to where you are."
Majors also shared a glimpse of what it means to be a Texan in Hollywood, saying that "everybody in Hollywood knows Texans punch hard. When someone hears you're from Texas, they know stuff's gonna happen."
Beyond that reputation as individual Texans, Majors also praised the work of organizations like Austin Film Society for continuing to attract Hollywood's attention beyond the obvious coastal hubs of Los Angeles and New York. Events like the Texas Film Awards bring artists and producers together, ultimately creating a catalyst for more film work in the Lone Star State.
"We have the space here," he said. "I just started producing ... so I think maybe the first step is getting more artists together and saying 'hey, we want to shoot here; I know you have the space, and we know you’ve got the money, so let’s try to make that happen.'"
Majors first garnered critical attention for his performance in TheLast Black Man in San Francisco, which Barack Obama listed as one of his favorite films in 2019. But his first feature film was starring alongside Christian Bale in Hostiles (2017), directed by Scott Cooper, who also attended the Texas Film Awards to present Majors with the Rising Star award.
Sharing a few words to introduce the award, Cooper called Majors "an exceptional talent from the first moment he stepped on set," noting that Bale shared similar sentiments during and after their work on Hostiles. Cooper went on to say that Majors has not had an easy journey to his current status as one of Hollywood's hottest actors to watch, but that "he's never lost sight of what is truly important" along the way.
Accepting the award, Majors thanked the Austin Film Society for "seeing me, and loving my work, and consequently, loving me ... And the journey continues. I'm leaving here tonight, hitting the road again, but with a tank full of this love with this honor."