As it turns out, the making of Dazed and Confused was like many teenagers who don’t know each other going to summer camp. It was 1992, before the internet and cell phones, when co-stars had to spend long hours in between shots.
For many of the young actors in the movie, it was the first time shooting away from New York or LA. Calling home to a loved one was expensive, so the intimate conversations were left for one another. And, boy, were there a lot of hookups. The set was a romping ground for hormone-filled teens and 20-somethings.
Here’s a look behind the scenes of the cult classic, Dazed and Confused.
Even the Director Couldn’t Help but Fall in Love
Christin Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum, who played Sabrina, said the fact that they were all doing something fun and exciting together bonded them. “It was kind of like the feeling of a first love.” As for director Richard Linklater, he tried his best NOT to fall in love. He didn’t want to distract himself from making his first studio film (he had made the indie film Slacker in 1991).
1991 was when Linklater flew to LA to pitch his idea for Dazed and Confused. That’s when he met a graduate student named Tina Harrison, the woman he would be with for the next three decades. She thought he was cute when they met, despite his “weird hair.”
The Makeup, the Hair, the Hormones!
Jonathan Burkhart, the film’s producer, has a theory as to why making the movie produced so many hookups. Basically, there was a lot of flirting written into the script. “It’s summertime. School’s out. Let’s make out!” he said simply.
Wiley Wiggins, who played Mitch, added that they were all a bunch of, um, “randy” young actors. With the makeup, the hair, the hormones (“an unstoppable ball of hormones”), everyone looked good. It only makes sense. “We were all f***ing hormonal. We couldn’t help it!” Marissa Ribisi added enthusiastically (she played Cynthia).
Crushes, Makeouts, and Walks of Shame
Wiggins admitted that he had a crush on everyone on set, including Parker Posey (who played Darla). Parker Posey had a crush of her own, just not on Wiggins. She had a thing for Cole Hauser, who played Benny. Oh, and Rory, too (he played Ron).
The movie’s vibe – teen love and angst – was transferred behind the scenes. Quite literally, too. Nicky Katt (Clint) explained, “You’d be going back to your room, and you’d see one of the cast members coming out of somebody else’s room, when the sun’s coming up.”
The Trailers Were Rockin’
Milla Jovovich (Michelle) and Shawn Andrews (Kevin) were “always stoned and staring into each other’s eyes… always making out.” Catherine Avril Morris (she played Julie) recalled how all the cast members’ trailers were connected, and since “Milla and Shawn were just doin’ it every night,” all their trailers would be rocking.
The funny thing is, there was a rule on set that all minors had to have guardians with them. Milla was 16 at the time, so her mom was always around. She must have had to sneak around to get alone time with Shawn.
Fun fact: the two lovebirds got hitched after the film wrapped, but it was annulled two months later.
Most of Milla Jovovich’s Scenes Were Cut Out
In the end, most of Milla’s scenes were taken out from the final cut. She wasn’t happy about it, either. She even put her acting career on hold for a while to focused on music instead. She returned in 1997 with The Fifth Element.
But those two weren’t the only ones getting hot and heavy on set. Parker Posey and Anthony Rapp (aka Tony) had a “tryst,” as Parker called it. She said he was “bi at the time.” Parker had a boyfriend while shooting the movie, but Anthony became her shoulder to cry on… and more.
Everyone Was Getting Lucky, Except Ben Affleck
The costume designer, Tracey Holman, revealed that Ben Affleck (who played Fred) had “a thing” for one of the production assistants named Valerie DeKeyser. He didn’t care that she had a boyfriend and kept saying, “No.”
He was persistent and kept going over to her and trying to flirt with her. Affleck admitted, “Everyone was having sex with each other, except me. I didn’t sleep with anybody the whole time!” Affleck didn’t get the girl he wanted, but he did try his best. And his method was pretty cheesy, too…
Ben Affleck’s Cheesy Attempts to Woo the Production Assistant
Valerie said she didn’t understand why he was trying to woo her since there were “so many hotties on the set.” He sent her letters, addressing them to “the only woman I could ever love… ” (eye roll).
He would pick her up and swing her around. “And the funny thing is, I was not sold,” she confessed. According to Valerie, he told her, “I’m really much better looking than this! I gotta be this big football player with bad hair. This isn’t who I am.”
The Actors Themselves Designed Those Paddles
Affleck played Fred O’Bannion, one of the paddle-wielding bullies. Those wooden paddles, used in the brutal hazing scenes, were all designed by the actors who wielded them. In some shots, you can see that one of the paddles had “17 yrs” engraved into it – a reference to the 17-year gap between the 1976 setting of the movie and its 1993 release.
Affleck’s character was easily the most hated in the movie (which could explain his lack of lovin’ on the set). Regardless, his legacy is forever immortalized on a wall at Austin’s famous Top Notch Hamburgers, where the actual paddle he used sits.
The Director Wasn’t Nostalgic About His Highschool Years
Set in 1976, Dazed and Confused is all about a group of teens who just want to have a good time on their first night of the summer in an unnamed town in Texas. It’s got “nostalgia” written all over it. But the inspiration for the film, Linklater revealed, came from memories he isn’t so fond of.
“I had mixed feelings about that time. Nostalgia suggests a warm glow, like, ‘Oh, what a great time.’ I didn’t have that feeling about this, and I think that comes through in the movie if you really break it down,” the director explained.
He Got Sued for Basing Some Characters on Real People
It’s true: if you watch the movie, you feel the “cruelty and angst.” It’s not the best time in your life, Linklater noted, “and a character even says that at the end.” Linklater actually based some of the film’s characters on real people he knew.
It proved to be a bad move as he got sued for it. The real Andy Slater, Bobby Wooderson, and Richard “Pink” Floyd – they all sued Linklater after seeing the movie and being upset about how it portrayed them. The lawsuit, which was filed 11 years after the movie came out, was eventually dropped.
It Was Meant to be the Opposite of a John Hughes Movie
Linklater said he conceived Dazed and Confused as the antithesis of a typical John Hughes movie (he made Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink). Hughes’ movies generally offered the “white-bread” view of American high school life – you know, the rich kids who fell for the oddballs.
What Linklater wanted to do was make a movie about high schooler who drank beer, smoked pot, and gladly broke the law. Speaking of beer, the cast popped open some cans of actual beer during scenes where they drank…
Those Were Real Beers
Most movie productions don’t have their cast drinking actual alcohol during takes for obvious reasons. If a scene calls for beer drinking, the beers are usually fake. But as we know now, the director was more easygoing than most.
Most of the cast members were drinking real beer in the scenes, in order to achieve a sense of authenticity. There were some exceptions, though, like minors weren’t allowed to. Jason London didn’t drink real beer, either, as he was avoiding alcohol and trying to quit smoking.
The Cast Was Encouraged to Be as Real as Possible
Linklater has always been known – and respected – for his ability to capture authenticity in his movies. In Dazed and Confused, he achieved it by giving his cast the freedom to bring their own ideas from their lives (or elsewhere) and even to change dialogue.
Parker Posey’s famous line, “Wipe that face off your head, bi**h!” was something she took from a (mistranslated) German quote from a Bertolt Brecht play. Then, of course, is what proved to be the most famous line in the film, delivered by Matthew McConaughey, which was adlibbed…
Matthew McConaughey’s Infamous Line Was Ad-Libbed
Matthew McConaughey’s most famous line from Dazed was also his opening line: “Alright, alright, alright…” The quote, still used today, was ad-libbed by the actor. He said he got the idea from a recording he had heard of Jim Morrison, who was quickly saying, “Alright,” four times in a row.
The scene where McConaughey’s character, David, flirts with Marissa Ribisi’s character, Cynthia, wasn’t even supposed to be in the scene at all. They filmed it on the evening of McConaughey’s wardrobe fitting. Linklater decided to put him in the scene after seeing McConaughey in character.
He Based His Character on His Brother
Dazed and Confused, and specifically Top Notch Hamburgers, was where the world was first introduced to McConaughey. His character, David Wooderson, was quotable but also a tad creepy (a mid-20s dude who still hangs out with teenagers), and it turns out he was based on the actor’s older brother, Pat.
“When I was 11, Pat’s Z28 broke down, so Mama was gonna pick him up from high school, and I’m in the back of the car. We’re drivin’ around, lookin’ for him, and I look out the back window, and I see this iconic silhouette of this guy leanin’ against the wall, knee kicked up, in the shade, smokin’ a cigarette,” McConaughey recalled.
The Cast Were Given Mixtapes of Music From the ‘70s
Although Linklater was easy going with the cast ad-libbing and changing their characters’ dialogue, he did direct the cast in one particular, and unique, way. He gave each cast member a personalized mixtape of music from the era.
The tapes ranged from Black Sabbath to Joni Mitchell. Jason London (who plays Randall “Pink” Floyd) revealed that they were instructed not to listen to any modern music while filming the movie. The goal was to stay in character and let the tunes do their magic, mannn.
Some Questionable (Borderline Criminal) Hookups Took Place Too
Sasha Jenson (who played Don) had a “thing” on set with Christin Hinojosa (who played Sabrina). She was only 16 while he was 26 – a fact she learned later. At the time, he told her he was 22. “I had lied to everybody in the beginning, to get the job,” Jenson admitted later.
“What happened between me and Christin was very, very, very limited. We kissed. I don’t even know if I would call it “making out.” I knew it was wrong. But it was still sweet, and I feel like I still am holding my head high,” he explained. To his credit, she said he was a “gentleman” and that “Nothing too untoward happened.”
Everyone Had a Crush on Deena Martin
Jenson also tried to get his hands on Deena Martin (who played Shavonne). The way he saw it, he was “playing the kind of guy I never was in high school: the drunk, belligerent womanizer. So, I gave myself permission to flirt.” He simply flirted with everyone on set.
And according to Peter Millius, Deena’s real-life boyfriend at the time, everybody flirted with her. But he trusted her… maybe to a fault. Affleck sure remembers Deena. “I’d never seen a woman that looked like that before,” Affleck recalled. “She was so sexy and so confident and so empowered.”
She Turned Down Matthew McConaughey
It looks like Peter Millius was one lucky dude, because Deena was turning down dude after dude on set since she was a taken woman. “Before Peter got out there,” she recalled, “Matthew asked me out on a date. And I turned Matthew down!”
She said she didn’t want to mention it, “because who would turn down Matthew McConaughey?” At a rehearsal, he asked her if she wanted to get lunch. She told him, “I have a fiancé, and I don’t know if he would want me to do that.” McConaughey, to his credit, said he didn’t know she was taken.
It Was Love at First Sight for These Two
Christine “Chrisse” Harnos (who played Kaye) and Jason London were an item as soon as they started shooting together. “They say love at first sight is BS, but it’s not,” London stated. During a scene, she grabbed his hand and said, “You have the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen.”
He admitted to thinking at that moment, “Well, trust me, you have beautiful everything.” She ended up giving him her number (which was actually a payphone since she was broke and living in her friend’s living room). He got the numbers mixed up, and when he finally reached her, he said, “I’ve been trying every combination!”
The Worldly Model and the Hillbilly
London was on cloud nine when making the movie. “Not only do I get to play the coolest character in the world, but I’ve got this beautiful girlfriend that I get to sleep with every night,” he shared. Harnos was a few years older than him, and those around them noted how sweet they were together.
Harnos was also known as being quite the intellectual. It struck people as strange that a model who traveled the world would like a younger, small-town guy from Texas and Oklahoma, who “wasn’t very worldly.” London was from a poor family. “They called us the “Beverly Hillbillies.”
The Other On-Set Lovebirds
Joey Lauren Adams (Simone) and Rory Cochrane (Ron) were in love while making the movie. “We were in a magical world, and Dazed was such an amazing experience and we were young, and we were artists,” Adams said of the time.
On their down time, he would play music on cassettes for her, sitting for hours in the hotel, listening to music. Unlike his character, Cochrane was 20 and a gentle fellow. Adams was more mature than him. “She definitely had the upper hand,” he recalled. “I was infatuated with her. She probably thought she was just dating a kid.”
Michelle Burke Was the Biggest Flirt
Michelle Burke Thomas (who played Jodi) was the on set flirt – more than the rest. According to London, she “would go out of her way to overtly flirt with” the guys who the other girls liked. “So that pissed people off.”
For Thomas, though, she was just a “farm girl” from the Midwest. Basically, every actor on set thought she was flirting with him. And she didn’t deny it, either. The thing is she was married at the time! But they were apparently “on the outs.” On the set, she ended up falling for Cole Hauser (Benny), who was also in a relationship.
The Scene That Bonded Them
Hauser remembers Thomas as his “chick during the whole time.” Thomas recalled the scene that brought them together. It was the scene where Benny whacks Jodi on the butt. “I had a bruise this big on my bottom the next day,” she revealed.
He tried to be gentle but having to do the shot over 15 times meant her butt was sore. She told him, “You bruised me!” so he said, “I’m sorry!” And then they started hanging out. The first time she felt butterflies was when they were in his hotel room listening to Jimi Hendrix. “I had never heard Jimi Hendrix that way before,” Thomas confessed.
The Director’s Reluctant Romance
Let’s not forget about the director’s own reluctant romance. He “didn’t want to be anyone’s boyfriend,” he said, so he told Tina Harrison, “I’ll see you in September.” He ended up with her, but during Dazed, there was another woman he thought about… reluctantly.
He explained that making a movie was so intense that he went into full monk mode. “When I was in my early 20s, working offshore, I was celibate for almost two years,” he divulged. But Linklater revealed that on his very limited time off, he would “get a beer and spend some quality time with Kahane.” Kahane Cooperman had a small cameo as “the pregnant lady buying vodka and cigarettes.”
And There She Is, Making a Documentary About It
Linklater and Kahane had met at Sundance, two years earlier. They had a “long-distance thing,” and according to the director, she understood that he didn’t want anything serious. Cooperman made a documentary of the making of Dazed, aptly called Making Dazed.
Affleck said he remembers Linklater being “kind of frustrated with her being there,” but on the other hand, he agreed to let her to the documentary. Linklater, on the contrary, said he didn’t bring Kahane out to make the documentary. “I didn’t want her to do it. She wanted to do it.”
Robert Plant Didn’t Agree to Let Them Use Their Song
Part of the nostalgia of Dazed and Confused is the legendary soundtrack, full of songs from the ‘70s by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Kiss. Linklater wanted to be able to use these iconic hits, which meant spending a large chunk of the budget.
In fact, licensing fees took up one-sixth of the movie’s total cost. The movie name itself is from a Led Zeppelin song, and the director wanted to use one of their other songs – Rock and Roll – on the soundtrack. It just so happens that both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones agreed to let Linklater use the song in the film, but Robert Plant didn’t. So, they couldn’t do it.
Claire Danes Was Too Classy and Vince Vaughan Looked Like Ben Affleck
Ashley Judd auditioned to play Jodi, and Claire Danes tried out for the role of Sabrina, but Linklater thought she was “too classy” for the role. Renee Zellweger was first considered for the role of Darla, but she got an uncredited minor role instead, as Nesi White.
As for the guys, Vince Vaughn auditioned for the role of Benny, but Linklater turned him down. Why? Because he looked too similar to Ben Affleck, who was already cast. Reportedly, Linklater thought audiences might not be able to tell the actors apart.
Willy Wiggins Today
Dazed and Confused turned some nobody actors into real somebodies. Willy Wiggins wasn’t one of them. He didn’t go on to become a big star. Out of all the Dazed cast, Wiggins is probably the least famous. He was 16 when he got the role of Mitch Kramer, the skinny freshman with long hair who got tormented by Ben Affleck’s character.
After Dazed, Wiggins didn’t stick around in Hollywood for long. He played some small roles in The Faculty and Waking Life (also directed by Linklater), and Social Animals but has since left the acting world. He now designs games and writes about cyberculture.
Joey Lauren Adams Today
She got her television debut on Married With Children, but Joey Lauren Adams’s first film role was in Dazed as Simone Kerr. Her role was small but just as memorable as the others. She then joined Kevin Smith’s “View Askewniverse” in Mallrats and in Chasing Amy and was later in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.
She acted in non-Smith movies, like Big Daddy, Beautiful, and Harvard Man. She had recurring roles, too, in Party Down, The United States of Tara, and Switched at Birth.
Jason London Today
Jason London fit the role of Randal “Pink” Floyd, the quarterback who is unsure about his football career. Both he and his brother, Jeremy, became actors. Whereas Jeremy went on to star in Mallrats and ’90s TV shows, Jason appeared in Man on The Moon, Rage: Carrie 2, and Out Cold.
His career has largely been limited to roles in small films. 2022 has been a busy one for him, though, with post-production films including The Martini Shot, Campton Manor, and Afterwards.
Parker Posey Today
Playing the role of Darla Marks, the senior who terrorized freshmen, was a fun role for Parker Posey to play as she made being a mean girl look cool. Her performance in Dazed is considered one of her best films. She’s also known for collaborating with director Christopher Guest and is an indie film queen of sorts.
She has over 100 credits, including House of Yes, Best in Show, Kicking and Screaming, and Scream 3. She’s recently been starring as June Harris/Dr. Smith in Lost in Space. She’s also in the new HBO limited series, The Staircase, with Colin Firth and Toni Collette.
Rory Cochrane Today
Slater was the stoner with the best quotes in Dazed and Confused, meaning Rory Cochrane stole pretty much every scene. Cochrane also starred as one of the record store employees of Empire Records, another huge cult classic.
He did a few films in the ‘90s, but Cochrane didn’t get bigger roles until the 2000s, when he starred in A Scanner Darkly, Public Enemies, and Argo, with Ben Affleck. He’s also in the Amazon film Encounter and in a horror called Antlers.
Milla Jovovich Today
Before playing Michelle Burroughs (and then hardly getting any screen time), 16-year-old Milla Jovovich was already in a couple of films, including Kuffs and Chaplin. She took most of the ‘90s off to try her hand at music.
Her return in 1998 as LeeLoo in Luc Besson’s sci-fi The Fifth Element was a pleasant surprise. She was hard not to look at! Eventually, she became synonymous with Resident Evil. She played Alice in multiple sequels. She made other action movies, like UltraViolet, Monster Hunter, and Hummingbird.
Anthony Rapp Today
Anthony Rapp had his acting debut in Adventures in Babysitting, an ’80s classic, as Daryl Cooper. Other than Dazed, he’s known for his performances in Twister and A Beautiful Mind. He gets the most recognition, though, for his musical talents.
Broadway fans know Rapp as the aspiring filmmaker Mark in Rent and as Lucas in If/Then, which was then adapted into a film, and he reprised his role. Lately, Rapp is on the CBS original Star Trek Discovery as Lt. Commander Paul Stamets.
Marissa Ribisi Today
Yes, the name is familiar because she’s the twin sister of Giovanni Ribisi. Marissa gained Hollywood fame as Cynthia Dunn in Dazed and Confused. Unlike the other girls in the movie, she played a more mature character.
Ribisi went on to star in big movies like Pleasantville and The Brady Bunch Movie. But then she kind of fizzled out, other than an episode of Watching Ellie in 2003. Marissa married the musician Beck in 2004 and has remained out of the spotlight ever since.
Adam Goldberg Today
Adam Goldberg is one of the Dazed actors who grew to be quite successful in Hollywood, in both film and TV. Not only did he appear in ER and as Chandler Bing’s creepy roommate Eddie in Friends, but he was also in multiple films, including Saving Private Ryan, A Beautiful Mind, and Zodiac.
He played one of the villains in the remake of Fargo as well as Taken and Equalizer. People don’t know that Goldberg has musical talent as well. As a musician he’s played with The Flaming Lips drummer Steven Drozd. He has several albums and a musical project called The Goldberg Sisters.
Cole Hauser Today
Cole Hauser played a small role in Dazed and Confused as Benny, one of the high school football team guys. Hauser became very successful throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s, and even today. He landed starring roles in Good Will Hunting and 2 Fast 2 Furious to name a few.
Other notable roles include Olympus Has Fallen, A Good Day to Die Hard, and Jarhead 2: Field of Fire. He starred as Ethan Kelly on Rogue and now stars as Rip Wheeler on the Western drama series Yellowstone.
Shawn Andrews Today
Shawn Andrews, of all the Dazed cast, might have experienced the most dramatic rise and fall. He played Kevin Pickford in Dazed and afterward played a critically acclaimed role opposite Olivia Wilde in Fix (2008).
Andrews only starred in two more projects before leaving the public eye. But the juiciest piece of information of his has to be the underage marriage to Milla Jovovich after finishing Dazed and Confused. Since Milla was 16 at the time, her mother annulled the marriage within two months.