Matthew McConaughey got his big break after auditioning for the role of charming stoner Wooderson in the 1993 coming-of-age movie Dazed and Confused. And on Monday, Criterion Collection released the audition video as part of part of the company’s Dazed and Confused special edition. Now, fans are able to see where it all started.
McConaughey’s audition story for the role of the lovable but creepy skirt-chaser Dave Wooderson has been re-told to reporters over the years. But it’s really best to just let casting director Don Phillips and McConaughey himself recall how the magic happened. Here’s a section of an interview each did with Texas Monthly magazine for a 2003 oral history of the film.
Phillips: “I went to Austin to cement the cast with Rick, who put me up for the weekend at the Hyatt. Usually I took all the perks I could, which meant staying at the Four Seasons, but it was graduation weekend at UT and I couldn’t get in. So it’s the end of the day, and I’m up in the bar having a couple drinks to unwind, and I see this really good-looking girl at the end of the bar with this pretty cool-looking guy.”
Matthew McConaughey: “It was, like, a Thursday night that summer, man, and I wanted to stay in and watch some flick, but my girlfriend talked me into going out to have some drinks. There was this bartender I knew from film school who worked at the Hyatt and would give us a discount, so we went there. And when we walk in, he’s there, and he goes, ‘Hey, man, the guy down at the end of the bar is in town producing a film.’ So I went down and introduced myself. That was Don.”
Phillips: “Next thing I know, I’m having a drink with this kid and talking about golf. I think I remember him saying briefly that he was studying to be a director.”
McConaughey: “Gets to be four hours later, and my girlfriend is gone, man, and Don and I are pretty lubricated. We’re talking about life and women and some great golf hole he’s played, and I guess we got a little rambunctious.”
Phillips: “And a little loud, because some big-muscled, red-shirted, UT-football-player bouncer guy escorts us out of the bar. So Matthew and I went to my room and he said, ‘How dare they throw us out of the bar, Don. Don’t they know who you are?’ And I said, ‘No, and they don’t give a damn either.’ So he said, ‘You know what I’m doing? I’m calling a manager.’ And he does. And he demands an apology. Wow. So after all that, I ask him if he’s ever acted before. ‘Naw,’ he says in that Texas drawl of his. ‘I’ve been in a beer commercial and a music video.’ And I said, ‘Look, I’m in town casting a movie with Rick Linklater. We have this character, Wooderson, who’s a little bit older than the high school kids. He’s only got a couple lines, so it’s too expensive to bring anybody in from Los Angeles. Why don’t you come to my office and pick up the script? Maybe we’ll put you on tape to see what you look like.”