‘Downsizing’ Star Hong Chau on Some of Her Most Memorable Red Carpet Looks

Hong Chau, who received Golden Globe and SAG Award noms for portraying a Vietnamese refugee in “Downsizing,” is still thinking about Alexander Payne’s film. “Payne makes films that reward repeat viewing — that will outlive him, you, me and our worrisome times,” she says. The actress, previously a regular on HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and “Treme,” also values individualism in fashion. “I appreciate people who sway to the beat of their own tambourine, like Iris Apfel and Helena Bonham Carter,” she says. “I’m never concerned about being first or on trend. I only want to feel like my most rad ‘me.’”

“This No. 21 dress [right photo] had been in my closet for about a year, waiting for the right occasion,” says Chau. She got just the opportunity when the “Inherent Vice” ensemble — including co-stars Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin, and director Paul Thomas Anderson — received the Robert Altman honor at the Independent Spirit Awards. Chau had purchased this dress secondhand for “about $100,” and snagged the red kitten pumps from Dillard’s in New Orleans while in high school. “This dress needed zero alterations and combined everything I love: a happy berry color, floral, metallic and not-gonna-wrinkle-in-the-long-car-ride brocade,” she says. “The red graphic stripe makes the dress. I felt rad!”

While it’s exciting to have your film in a festival, Chau notes, “It’s on a whole other rock star plane when that sprawling masterwork film is chosen for the opening night gala at the Venice Film Festival, with the president of Italy in attendance.” The heart, floral and bird motif on this beaded Elie Saab gown [middle] reminded her of Nordic designs on sweaters. “A portion of ‘Downsizing’ takes place in Norway, so this was my sartorial nod to Norse mythology,” she says. The event, however, proved to be her “biggest, baddest red-carpet challenge.” “After a full day of press, I had only 30 minutes to dunk my feet in a bucket of ice, while getting hair and makeup,” she says. “With my gown weighing 30 pounds and [with] six-inch platform heels, I had to get in and out of several small water taxis, because they don’t use cars in Venice.” She was officially broken in: “I felt like I could wear, walk, talk in anything, anywhere, after that.”

The Saab dress remained on Chau’s mind come Globes time. “After we got the all-black memo, I joked with my stylist Erica Cloud, ‘How about I just re-wear my black gown from Venice?” she recalls. Her stylist failed to see the humor in this. Instead, Chau wore a “simple yet chic” custom gown from Stella McCartney, which she picked from sketches. “The delicate straps and deep V were the design elements that sealed the deal for me,” she says of the black velvet and lace number. “Stella has been a champion for equality and makes sustainability a part of her business model,” Chau says. “This was a perfect marriage of fashion, film, actor and event.”

More Film

  • 'The Dirt' Review: A Mötley Crüe

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

  • Zac Efron Amanda Seyfried

    Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried Join Animated Scooby-Doo Film as Fred and Daphne

    Zac Efron has signed on to voice Fred Jones while Amanda Seyfried will voice Daphne Blake in Warner Bros.’ animated Scooby-Doo feature film “Scoob.” It was revealed earlier this month that Will Forte had been set to voice Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, while Gina Rodriguez would be voicing Velma Dinkley. The mystery-solving teens and their talking [...]

  • 'Staff Only' Review: Cultures And Values

    Film Review: 'Staff Only'

    Marta (Elena Andrada) is 17, from Barcelona and alternately bored and mortified to be on a Christmas vacation to Senegal with her estranged dad, Manel (Sergi López), and annoying little brother, Bruno (Ian Samsó). For her, the freedoms of imminent adulthood, such as the occasional poolside mojito, are tantalizing close but still technically forbidden, rather [...]

  • Rocketman

    Candid 'Rocketman' Dares to Show Elton John as 'Vulnerable,' 'Damaged,' 'Ugly'

    Elton John movie “Rocketman” dares to portray the singer’s personality early in his career to have been, at times, “ugly,” Taron Egerton – who plays the pop star – told an audience at London’s Abbey Road Studios Friday, following a screening of 15 minutes of footage from the film. It is a candid portrayal, showing [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck's Addiction Drama Set for Awards-Season Release

    Warner Bros. has given Ben Affleck’s untitled addiction drama an awards-season-friendly release date of Oct. 18. The film, which has been known previously as “The Has-Been” and “Torrance,” is directed by Gavin O’Connor and stars Affleck as a former basketball player struggling with addiction, which has led to him losing his wife. As part of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content