I enjoy celebrity biographies and behind-the-scenes stories, and those two things come together quite groovily in Melissa Maerz’s oral history of the 1993 cult-classic Dazed and Confused.
Maerz interviews everyone involved with the movie, from Richard Linklater, to the costume designer, casting director, the casts and their families, even Linklater’s high school classmates, many of whom were inspirations for the characters (however unflattering they may find that fact). I learned all sorts of fun facts about the movie and it’s cast, as did my family and friends, because I would constantly share what I was reading as I went along (sorry guys!). I couldn’t help it – this movie was on constant VCR rotation when I was in high school and I can still quote whole scenes without fail. This book was a fun trip down memory lane.
It was especially fun to look at the cast and how far they’ve come since 1993 – this was Matthew McConaughey’s first movie, and his bit part grew and grew until he became the breakout star. Mila Jovovich, who was the biggest name of the cast at the time, saw her part shrink considerably as she got caught up in an on-set romance and neglected her role; her boyfriend Shawn Andrews effectively got himself blackballed from Hollywood for a time due to his attitude and behavior during filming. Texas native Renee Zillweger wanted to be in the movie badly enough that she took a non-speaking, uncredited roll as “Girl in Blue Truck”.
If you’re in need of a slow ride down memory lane while school’s out for the summer, this book will help you rock and roll all night long. Just don’t forget your reading glasses, because if this was your favorite movie in high school, you’re now old like me.
Maerz, Melissa. Alright, alright, alright: the oral history of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. Harper, 2020.