My 14-year-old brain couldn't handle how amazing Dazed and Confused was when it debuted in 1993. It was the coolest, funniest thing I had ever seen, and all my friends agreed. That was rare. Male, female, jock, stoner, nerd, whatever — every demographic is represented in Dazed which is part of its greatness. It was my favorite movie for a long time and is still way up there.
We loved Slater, stoned into oblivion, and Wooderson, who rang hilariously true. We loved the cars, the girls, the fights, the underage smoking and drinking, the obsession with music, the hazing, Dazed understood us. Hell, Dazed was us. Every high school kid hates the time they grow up in and yearns for decades past. The '60s were always the place everyone wanted to return to, but Dazed made me pine for the '70s. It's not just the greatest high school movie ever made, it's one of the best period films as well.
"The '50s were boring. The '60s rocked. The '70s, my God, they obviously suck. So maybe the '80s will be, like, radical. I figure we'll be in our twenties and, hey, it can't get any worse." Writer and director Richard Linklater has the innate ability to speak for the masses with his writing. Dazed spoke for us. Indeed, its timelessness may be its greatest attribute. It still speaks for the young in America 25 years later.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dazed and Confused this month, we're taking you behind the scenes to tell you some things you probably never knew about the production.
1. Linklater has said his intent with Dazed and Confused was to create an anti-John Hughes movie.
2. Dazed is shot in and around Austin, Texas. The locations are mostly real places you can still visit today. Stop by the Top Notch on Burnet Road next time you're in the area and you'll see assorted pieces of Dazed memorabilia, including the boys' paddles used in the film.
3. Speaking of the paddles, they were all custom designed by the actors themselves.
4. Linklater told the audience at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival he "turned down every other actor of that generation" while casting Dazed. Claire Danes auditioned for the role of Sabrina, but was deemed too young. Ashley Judd auditioned for the part of Jodi, which eventually went to Michelle Burke. Elizabeth Berkley, Mira Sorvino, and Ron Livingston also auditioned. And Vince Vaughn tried out for Benny. Linklater thought he was "perfect," but the director decided Vaughn and Ben Affleck (who plays O'Bannion) were too similar looking.
5. Linklater has said Affleck was the smartest actor to audition which is why he got the part of the villain, O'Bannion. "Ben was the smartest guy so he jumped into being the asshole. He had so much fun with it."
6. Renée Zellweger was the odd woman out for the role of Darla (Parker Posey won it for being "crazier"), but she was given the uncredited part of Nesi White, who doesn't have any lines but is in many scenes. You can see her most prominently holding a funnel for Darla at the Moon Tower.
7. Rory Cochrane, who plays Slater, wore a wig in the film. The long hair isn't his and he reported getting many weird looks around Austin when he wore it off set.
8. Matthew McConaughey has revealed in several interviews he based the character of Wooderson on his perception of his cool older brother when McConaughey was 11-years-old.
9. McConaughey also borrowed the most famous line in the movie, "Alright, alright, alright," from Jim Morrison, who used to rouse crowds by exclaiming "Alright! Alright!" during Doors concerts. The actor has said Wooderson is about four things: his car, getting high, rock 'n' roll, and picking up girls. When we first meet Wooderson in his car (alright), he's high (alright), playing music (alright), and he's about to pick up a chick so he gives us three out of four "alrights." The line is McConaughey's first ever in a movie as Wooderson was his first role.
10. While Wooderson is known as the old guy still hanging out with high schoolers, McConaughey was actually younger than many of them at the time. Sasha Jenson (Don), Joey Lauren Adams (Simone), and Parker Posey were the oldest high schoolers.
11. When Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins) speaks with Sabrina (Christin Hinojosa) in front of the Emporium, he grabs his nose seven times. Wiggins did it unconsciously, being a nervous young actor, but Linklater loved it and kept it in the film.
12. The cast all drank real beer in the movie, except for Pink (Jason London), who wasn't interested. He also doesn't smoke cigarettes in the movie. London does, however, smoke bowls and joints. He even wears a belt buckle that doubles as a pipe. You can see him hit it while standing outside the Emporium.
13. London and Shawn Andrews (who plays Pickford) did not get along during the shoot and actually got into a real fight at one point which Linklater had to break up. Consequently, scenes had to be rewritten so Pink and Pickford never interacted. If you watch closely, they share several scenes and don't talk to each other much.
14. Andrews did, however, win over his girlfriend in the film, Milla Jovovich (who plays Michelle). The two youngsters actually eloped to Las Vegas during filming and got married. It was not to be, however, as Jovovich was 16-years-old at the time. Her mother quickly annulled the marriage.
15. Jovovich was arguably the biggest name (at the time) cast in Dazed. Most of the actors were unknowns, including future stars Affleck, McConaughey, Zellweger, Posey, and Adam Goldberg. Linklater had promised Milla a bigger role, but the character of Michelle never got fleshed out. "It was this small part that I thought we would grow, but it didn't really gel, and I could not deliver what I promised her."
16. The song Michelle sings in the film is an original from Jovovich's 1994 album The Divine Comedy. It's called "The Alien Song," and Pickford correctly tells us "it's about aliens."
17. The soldier memorial statues Michelle paints Kiss makeup on in the film originally had a much larger role in the script. There were scenes showing how they were stolen and the police confiscating them. Years later, Gene Simmons of Kiss bought them for his collection.
18. While Dazed was filmed in and around Austin, much of the script was inspired by Linklater's own childhood growing up in Huntsville, Texas. "It's a small town, 18,000 people in East Texas, and they have this really sadistic initiation ritual for the freshman. I'm not that creative; it's the stuff that really happened. Girls were really treated like hotdogs. It’s so weird."
He also reveals on the Dazed Criterion Collection DVD: "When I was making it, I was horrified, because I was reliving my past point by point. I’d be on the set and I’d look around, and I would be back in 1976, a freshman in high school again. And those weren’t necessarily good memories. I was revisiting sorrows and horrors. I was making it from a distance, so it perhaps came out more positive than negative, but it’s not all fun and games."
19. Linklater got the idea for Tony's (Anthony Rapp) Abraham Lincoln dream from a high school buddy who actually had that dream. "We embarrassed him at the time, and then I got to worldwide embarrass him for all time so many years later. It's kind of the opposite of a shout-out."
20. The word "man" is said 203 times in the film.
21. The word "fuck" is said 59 times in the film.
22. Cars seen in Dazed (with their owners in parentheses): 1970 Chevy Chevelle Super Sport (Wooderson), 1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD-455 (Clint), 1972 Plymouth Duster 340 (O'Bannion), 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge (Pickford), 1966 Chevrolet C-10 (Benny's pickup), and a 1965 Volkswagen Convertible Beetle (Jodi), among many others.
23. This is obvious to any baseball fan, but, prior to filming, Wiggins had never thrown a ball in his life. A double was used in his pitching scenes.
24. In the girls' bathroom, the graffiti over Jodi's shoulder reads, "Jodi Kramer is stuck up!!"
25. Per IMDb, "On Thursday, October 7, 2004, former high school classmates of Richard Linklater filed a lawsuit against Universal Studios, saying that the director did not get their permission to use their likenesses and surnames, and now suffer from ridicule. The three men are Bobby Wooderson, Andy Slater, and Richard Floyd. The three men still live in Huntsville, Texas, where according to the lawsuit 'we had fun in high school.' The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, due to the statute of limitations having expired."
h/t to IMDb, Wikipedia, Mashable, Esquire, and my Criterion DVD