Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas

By Alison Macor | Go to book overview

Rick never said he was going to make a movie
about growing up in Huntsville, Texas, about
the quarterback who didn’t really want to be
one. He never vocalized it, but it materialized
in Dazed and Confused. It could have been
called The Reluctant Quarterback.
LEE DANIEL


6
The Reluctant Quarterback
Richard Linklater and Dazed and Confused

By July 1992, while a frustrated Robert Rodriguez was overseeing the 35mm blowup of El Mariachi on the Columbia lot, Richard Linklater was just weeks into production on his next movie, a teen comedy set in 1976 on the last day of school called Dazed and Confused. Its $6.9 million budget was modest by Hollywood standards, but in many ways a lot was riding on the film. Despite an amicable beginning, the relationship between Linklater and his Austin-based crew and the executives at Universal Pictures quickly turned sour, and the studio forced the filmmaker to trim his budget and his shooting schedule. And to the L.A. members of the Dazed crew, Linklater’s laidback directorial “style” was a joke. “The truth is he’s an amateur and it shows,” scoffed one crew member. “We’re shooting half the scenes we could be shooting, exactly half.”1

Night shooting had begun, and one evening the crew assembled at the Top Notch hamburger stand in North Austin. Twenty-two-year-old UT RTF undergraduate Matthew McConaughey arrived on the set for a hair and wardrobe test. “I wasn’t scheduled to work that night but I had come down to do a makeup and hair thing just to walk out in front of Rick and see what he thought,” recalls McConaughey of his role as David Wooderson, a character slightly older than the others in the movie. The aspiring actor stepped out of the wardrobe trailer dressed in peach-colored polyester slacks, a tight white

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