South by Southwest kicked off in Austin on Friday night with a screening of “Brand: A Second Coming,” a documentary about the comic Russell Brand, though the star himself was not present. He was a rare exception over a weekend that saw movie and music stars work the festival to promote their latest projects.
On Saturday night, guests slapped on kitschy “Hello, My Name Is” name tags on their way inside the rooftop bar Summit for a party toasting the Sally Field vehicle “Hello, My Name is Doris.” The Oscar winner, who naturally did not need a name tag, sipped Champagne to celebrate the standing ovation she received at the premiere earlier in the night.
“It was a good audience tonight, but I’ve been in this business a long time. That was one audience. We’ll see,” she said. “I hope it has a life. I hope it gets picked up.”
Field plays a woman who reinvents herself as a hipster to pursue a decades-younger man, played by Max Greenfield. This translated into a closet full of musty vintage clothing, including itchy sweaters and neon ensembles. Did she have a favorite outrageous outfit? “No, I hated them all,” she insisted. “They were all horrible and old and they stunk.” But she had high praise for the “truly amazing” costume designer, Rebecca Gregg (who worked on “Iron Man). “We had no money, so she dug through the warehouses of studio vaults and we couldn’t even afford to buy a lot of vintage clothes because we didn’t have any money, so most of it reeked, so I would have to go, ‘I’m really sorry I smell,’ and it was itchy and scratchy and it didn’t fit and it was uncomfortable.” At one point, she wears an Eighties rainbow visor. “That was [director Michael] Showalter saying, ‘Wear it. It works. Trust me, you’ll get a big laugh,’” Field said. He was right.
Aubrey Plaza, one of the most ubiquitous actresses of the festival, was at STK Supper Suite earlier in the night. She was there specifically for the new comedy “Fresno,” where she stars with Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne. “I was especially excited to play Natasha’s love interest. “That was really, like, the only reason I did the movie because I knew I was going to be making out with her,” Plaza said. “I went through, like, 10 boxes of Tic Tacs that day because you gotta keep it fresh.” And she’s also starring in Hal Hartley’s “Ned Rifle,” which premiered at the festival on Friday night. “I play, like, a genius poet that’s obsessed with this character named Henry Fool and is very unhinged,” Plaza said. “It’s very different than a lesbian Krav Maga instructor.”
On Sunday, real-life couple Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale pulled double duty, first attending the premiere for their film, “Adult Beginners,” at the Topher Theatre, and later the premiere of their big studio comedy “Spy,” the latest Melissa McCarthy film. “It’s very casual,” Byrne said of the festival’s dress code. She’s a veteran of the scene, having premiered “Bridesmaids” here in 2011. “It’s not like Cannes or somewhere, so that’s part of the charm…It’s the quintessential sort of indie film place too.”
McCarthy, who wore Melissa McCarthy Designs, embraced her “Spy” wardrobe, which included sleek all-black ensembles along with a host of unflattering wigs and pants. Her favorite get-up of all? “I am strangely fond of the cat woman with the short, gray, curly wig with the pedal pusher, which is the worst length I should be wearing,” she said. “We made sure things fit poorly. When I first tried it on they were like, ‘Oh, that looks terrible. Let us take it in.’ I was like, ‘Don’t touch it.’ It’s supposed to look terrible, so let it ride.”