Half-love letter and half painful recollection, Richard Linklater’s sincere look back to 1970s high school life launched almost as many careers as it did catchphrases, earning it a legacy far greater than its initial cult success would have suggested.
Below we take a look at just a few of the stars and where their careers have taken them since:
Jason London (Randall “Pink” Floyd)
After playing the film’s closest approximation of a main character, the non-jerk jock “Pink” Floyd, Jason London has had modest but frequent success during his 22-year acting career, appearing in over a hundred films and TV series, including mainstays like CSI and Grey’s Anatomy. Dazed and Confused, his sixth role as a young actor, remains the largest role in his career, however, and he never managed to follow many of his co-stars to the heights of Hollywood royalty.
Matthew McConaughey (David Wooderson)
Better known is Matthew McConaughey, for whom Dazed and Confused was his first major foray into acting (initially considered too handsome for the role, he grew a hilariously creepy moustache and was accepted immediately). McConaughey owned the role, improvising many of Wooderson’s now-legendary catchphrases and convincing Linklater to massively increase the character’s screen time. A truly fascinating personality, McConaughey spent most of the 2000s appearing in various romantic comedies, often delivering charming performances from very forgettable scripts. More recently he has starred in numerous truly great films and, following a Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club and an Emmy nomination for True Detective, is now considered one of this generation’s greatest actors.
Wiley Wiggins (Mitch Kramer)
At the age of 16 (the same age Linklater was when the film was set) Wiley Wiggins played Mitch, a kid being introduced to the strange world of upper-high school life. Wiggins has acted only sporadically since then, most notably in a another well-received Linklater film, 2001’s Waking Life. Outside acting he has acheived success as a technology writer and blogger.
Ben Affleck (Fred O’Bannion)
It was Dazed and Confused that signalled Ben Affleck’s growth out of child-actor status and opened the door to his partnership with Kevin Smith, a huge Linklater fan. Smith was then instrumental in helping Affleck find a studio to produce 1997’s Good Will Hunting, for which he would win his first, though not last, Academy Award. Now an A-list celebrity, Affleck starred in numerous major pictures including Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Pearl Harbor (2001). More recently Affleck has had great success as an actor-director-producer, receiving a Best Picture Oscar for Argo (2012) among countless other accolades. It remains to be seen whether he can silence rabid DC fans as he dons the cowl in no less than five upcoming Batman pictures.
Milla Jovovich (Michelle Burroughs)
That Milla Jovovich is better known as a model than an actress is perhaps partly due to her early appearance in Dazed and Confused, a film she was very unhappy with. Despite being heavily featured in promotional material, Jovovich’s part was reduced in the final cut, leading her to quit acting for several years. Her modelling career flourished, meanwhile, but she returned to acting in 1997 to star as the titular Fifth Element in Luc Besson’s sci-fi magnum opus before taking the lead in the much-derided but immensely profitable Resident Evil film series (2002- ).
Adam Goldberg (Mike Newhouse)
During his prolific acting career Adam Goldberg has continued to display a gift for playing the kind of sarcastic and slightly unbalanced character first established with the principled but unpopular aspiring dancer Mike Newhouse. Instantly recognisable for his brilliantly surreal comedic turn in Friends as Eddie, Chandler’s deranged temporary roomate, Goldberg has proven capable of brilliant dramatic performances as well, most notably in 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, where he played Private Mellish, a tough Jewish infantryman. He continues to appear in numerous television shows and films and recently starred in, produced and directed the quite terrible No Way, Jose.
Rory Cochrane (Ron Slater)
Ron Slater was one of Dazed and Confused‘s most popular characters, an exceptional stoner in a film about stoners whose slurred monologues on alien cults, Martha Washington and getting high provided some of the easiest laughs of the film. Since that role, Rory Cochrane has appeared in a number of films and TV series but is most recognisable for his long-term attachment to CSI: Miami. He also acted alongside Affleck again in Argo although, disappointingly, their characters refrained from discussing the weed consumption of the founding fathers this time around.