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Dazed and Confused director Richard Linklater and stars Jason London, Parker Posey and Anthony Rapp reunited at the New York Film Festival Thursday night for a screening and Q&A to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the cult film.
As they reminisced about their experiences making the film, they all expressed doubts that the Universal-backed movie would get made by a studio today.
“Hell no! No way,” Linklater told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. “It was only a $6 million film, but it was made in a studio. They would never do this. They’re not in that business anymore. It would be hard to get it made indie. It would be hard to raise the money and do it.”
Posey was quick to agree, adding that even though it was low-budget, it was considered a risky film then.
London said that movies like Dazed aren’t being made anymore.
“They’re not making movies like that, I’ll tell you that right now, which is a little depressing. It would be nice if they would fall back into more of story-driven, character-driven, true-to-life pieces instead of the action stuff, which is fine, but a little break from that would be nice every now and then.”
But he was hopeful that another talented young director could make a film that would become as beloved as this one.
“The question is: Is there another Richard Linklater out there? I think there are a lot of talented people, so I can’t wait until the next Richard Linklater shows his face because he’s brilliant, he’s knocked it out of the park since we made the movie.”
Rapp, however, thought that it was possible the film could get made as an indie, noting that independent film is in some ways cheaper now because the technologies are more accessible, but he wasn’t sure the independent arm of a studio would take a chance on a similar project.
Nevertheless, Linklater thanked Universal before the movie, saying “This was a studio film, so I’m so grateful they gave me the opportunity to make a film about teenage life.”
After the film, during a Q&A moderated by NYFF director of programming Kent Jones, London said one of the best things about working on the film was the laid-back, collaborative environment that Linklater created.
“We got to be a part of the industry as it was transforming, just before the digital age. We got to make a movie on film, feeling like you were making a f—ing movie, and that’s really what it was about,” he said. “When we got cast in the movie, Rick gave us all cassette tapes of just the music he was hopefully going to design the soundtrack around. That is all we listened to the entire time. … [Linklater told us], ‘I’ve done enough thinking because I wrote the script. You guys have to do all the thinking from this point on.’ It was that collaborative effort that he allowed us to have from day one along with that f—ing killer music that we got to really enjoy that made the movie.”
Indeed, for London and Posey, both of whom were fans of Linklater’s first film, Slacker, the director was the main reason they wanted to make Dazed.
For Rapp, who was also fond of the director, it took him a while to get what the movie was about.
“Honestly, when I was first auditioning and reading the script, it was hard to tell exactly what it was going to be,” he said. “It’s a film that’s so much about the quiet moments between people, that slice of life, so it’s not exactly like an action-packed screenplay. I couldn’t get a real sense of what it was. … Then when we were in rehearsal, the way that all of those textures came together, then I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I love this.’ And then that came through onscreen when I saw the film. So, it was an evolution of falling in love with it. At first I was just happy to do anything, and then it turned into something — and I’m not just saying this because I’m here tonight — but it is the film that I’m the most proud of being a part of.”
But some people have fallen in love with the film to the exclusion of all other cinema, Posey explained, saying that she meets fans who haven’t seen any movies except for Dazed and Confused.
One of the biggest fan favorites and stars to come out of the movie is Matthew McConaughey, who was not on hand for the reunion. But that didn’t stop his former castmates and director from talking about him.
Linklater said that McConaughey based his character somewhat on one of his older brothers, Patrick, and that he had to make McConaughey look more like the part because he was initially too clean-cut and frat-boy looking.
There were also extra scenes with McConaughey that they added in part because they so enjoyed working with him that they didn’t want him to leave. One of those additions is the moment when McConaughey’s character smacks Posey’s character’s ass on her way into the pool hall, which Posey said was her idea.
While there were a lot of changes and additions made to the script through rehearsals and filming, Linklater wasn’t up for all of the castmembers’ suggestions.
When Posey had a particularly disturbing idea for a hazing ritual involving oysters and dental floss, which her aunt told her about, Linklater didn’t think they should do that in the movie. But the film’s paddle beatings were autobiographical for the director, he admitted.
Speaking to THR earlier, London said something that probably sums up how most people feel about their high school days.
“There’s no way to go back and do that, but it’s fun to reflect. But I’ll tell you one thing, it’s fun to also watch the movie and realize how much you have matured and how much you have aged. It’s nice to embrace it instead of being like, [as they say] in the movie, ‘Those were the best days of my life!’ I’m glad that that wasn’t the best days of my life. It was a wonderful experience and it still lives on, but for us we were just actors doing a movie. We had no idea what we were in for.”
The cast also predicted where their characters would be now, with Rapp saying Tony would be running a nonprofit, London saying Randall “Pink” Floyd would be working for Tony and Posey saying Darla would be an activist in San Francisco.
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