If you’re around my age, “Dazed and Confused” is more than just a movie. Back in the day, it was a way of life, a tradition. I was coming out of high school when Richard Linklater’s 70s era stoner comedy was released. If we were hanging out at someone’s house, there was one apartment that particularly comes to mind – nobody you know, don’t worry about whose place – but it was playing constantly. I’m pretty sure it was the only VHS he had – well, that and “Friday.”
Despite the nearly two-decade gap, it was easy for some of us to really identify with the characters. (Don’t try and figure out when I went to high school, it’s not important for this story.) I know I’m not alone here, but we all knew these guys, amIright?
We all knew a Mitch (the long-haired, baseball pitcher kid that looks alarmingly like what we all think former SF Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum probably looked like when he was a kid); or a Slater (the dude who is probably permanently stoned); or a freakin’ O’Bannion (Ben Affleck, the over-aggressive bully); and of course, we all knew a Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey’s legendary as the way-too-old dude clinging to the glory days of his youth by scheming on unsuspecting high school girls and unleashing his pearls of wisdom to kids that don’t know any better.)
Now, Linklater is taking another spiritual journey into the past for “Everybody Wants Some!!”, a story that centers around players on a small college baseball team in Texas. The film includes a cast of mostly unknown actors (at least for now), but, like “Dazed and Confused”, there are so many memorable characters; you won’t be forgetting them any time soon.
During a recent press tour, I had a chance to sit down with three of the films breakout stars, Wyatt Russell, Glen Powell and Quinton Johnson at the Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City, where we were joined for a roundtable discussion with a few of my fellow KC critics. We talked about being transported back to the 1980, playing baseball, and working with Richard Linklater.
On living in ‘70s (1980):
Quinton Johnson: It’s interesting that you say 70s because Rick (director, Richard Linklater) – the film takes place in 1980 but Rick says it’s technically still the 70s, that the 80s didn’t start ‘til really 1983.
Glen Powell: Well, it was a transition time, you know, in clothing, politics, Presidents. Everything was shifting and changing and our relationship with the world was changing – and I think this movie is about guys who are also shifting either from college to the real world or from high school to college and that shift and that framework is kinda what the movie is all about. So, it was awesome! (everyone laughs) Seriously, because we talked about the clothes, the hair, the music – everything was just sexier.
On the freedom of being a college athlete then and now:
Quinton: Yeah, ya know, and not feeling like you had to live your life and fun for someone else. Like nowadays we have social media, smart phones, things like that and these parties, if it was done today, it would be like everyone had their phones out showing people how good of a time they’re having, but in that era it was actually ‘we’re having a good time with these people because they’re actually here.’
Glen: You know it’s different and it’s different because we’re athletes who are on the dance floor. Rick talked about how athletes where, ya know – peacockers – in every sense of the word, where now I feel like, at least when I was an athlete, you’re almost like wallflowers. You go to practice, you do your thing and it’s almost like so intense these days. Like these guys were drinking beers, they were partying. But back when I was playing ball, that’s your world, like you’re focused and now, it’s just way more competitive. You’re not out in a club, the way these guys were.
Wyatt Russell: Not in the same way. I played hockey. You go out and you have drinks and stuff. Well in Europe it was different. Where I played it was just like this (laughs) but in the states, yeah, it’s pretty rigid.
On playing baseball and cheesy 80s skill videos:
Glen: Rick talked about the body type of an athlete back then. Now there’s like supplements and these guys are almost like Adonis, like shredded…and back then he’s like ‘yeah, you guys would have been in pretty good shape, but you don’t necessarily look like athletes. You’re like corn-fed Texas guys.
Quinton: We all had baseball practice every morning along with dance rehearsals. So, even the guys who might not have played as much, like myself – the guys that did play, like Justin played for the A’s, Tyler (Hoechlin) played in college, Ryan (Guzman) played in college, Tanner (Kalina) and Forrest (Vickery), they all played in college and those guys helped out some of the guys who may not have had as much baseball experience.
Glen: There’s also the skills video that Rick made us do. I put mine to music, but I think Quinton had the most non-baseball, but most entertaining –
Quinton: Cuz I couldn’t play! I mean, I was an athlete I could throw a ball, I could catch a ball. But I was not a baseball player and Rick knew that instantly. So, I tried to add more of my flair as an artist. And I played basketball, so I threw a dunk in there but I tried to show who I am as a person. I was juggling, there was a dog in a park in mine and I set it to Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town”…
Glen: I was shooting “Ride Along 2”, so I went to a batting cage with (actor) Jessie Plemmons – Jessie and I filmed our skills videos together and I just laid a bunch of 80s music on top of it. Mine wasn’t nearly as fun as yours.
Wyatt: I had like, five minutes to do it because I had to leave to go somewhere and the casting directors says its Friday, you gotta get it in by like, 5:00. All my friends were out of town, there was some festival going on – I didn’t even have a baseball glove. So, I went over to my brother’s house and my 7-year-old nephew is filming, so it’s like horrible, I’m like ‘Wilder, keep it still!’…and I’m just like, okay, I can throw a baseball – I mean, he just needs to know I can do it.
Glen: He said it knocked, out 2/3 of the people, the baseball skills video. You can tell with actors. A lot of actors aren’t athletes, so you can tell pretty quickly if someone has any sort of athleticism in their body. So, that knocked a bunch of them out. Thank God. Then I just had a chemistry reading and that was it.
Quinton: I didn’t have a chemistry reading, I just got it. (laughs)
Glen: Well, I went through hell and I came out a stronger man.
On getting into that 80’s vibe:
Wyatt: Yeah, (Rick) gave us all iPod Nanos, with like a hundred songs on it from 1980 and 1979 specifically. So, whatever we did, we’d pretty much be listening to that the entire time, so that would definitely bleed into you. And whenever we were playing ping-pong in his game room, it would be on. It was a big part of it.
Quinton: And we enjoyed it, too.
Glen: We talked to Rick about everything that was going on in the world. Not so we could reference it, but just so you’d know. Rick’s not a heavy-handed director. He’s not trying to make a political statement or teach you about what was going on in 1980. But the music was a big part of it.
On working with Richard Linklater and bringing something personal to the roles:
Quinton: We got an email, right before we went out to his ranch to rehearse that pretty much said if you guys come in and read the script as is, it’s not any good. You have to bring yourselves to it. He’s such a collaborator and really allowed us a lot of leeway with collaboration in the rehearsal process. But when we got to shooting, all that stuff was really locked in from whatever we brought to the table in rehearsal.
Glen: You start to realize that Rick has a very specific map for what he wants to see in this movie. Rehearsal was almost like a three-week drum roll. We rehearsed it so much that by the time we shot the scene it wasn’t like ‘oh, how are we going to break this scene down?’.
Wyatt: You really get to the point, and by the third day I was like ‘I think he really wants us to tear it apart’ and everyone’s process is different – with Rick as well. So, you need to be like, ‘what about this or this’ and if he likes it, the next day you’d see it in the script….So, it became an extremely collaborative experience and it was the best because it gave you so much confidence. It was awesome.
Glen: You know, the reason I think a lot of movies suck these days is because they’ve been executive noted to death. And this movie was made with love in Texas without the pressure from a studio that was noting it to death. It’s all from Rick’s life and his heart and our lives.”
Final Note: Look for an exclusive chat with Russell, Glen and Quinton during the April 18th podcast of Tim and the Reel Hooligans. Find out who could have been a professional lacrosse player when the guest Hooligans answer this week’s Top 5 questions!