Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater

Linklater in 2015
Born Richard Stuart Linklater
(1960-07-30) July 30, 1960
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Director, screenwriter, producer, actor
Years active 1985–present[1]

Richard Stuart Linklater (/ˈlɪŋkltər/; born July 30, 1960)[2] is an American filmmaker, screenwriter, and actor. Linklater is mostly known for his realistic and natural humanist films which mainly revolve around suburban culture and the effects of the passage of time. Some notable films of his include the observational comedy film Slacker (1991), the coming-of-age comedy Dazed and Confused (1993), the romantic drama film trilogy Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013); the music-themed comedy School of Rock (2003), and the rotoscope animated Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2006). In 2002 he began filming Boyhood (2014), a passion project which took over twelve years to finish. The film was premiered in 2014 to critical acclaim. Linklater won the Golden Globe, Critics' Choice Movie Awards and BAFTAs for Best Director and Best Picture. He also received his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director, along with nominations for Original Screenplay and Picture. In 2015, Time magazine named Linklater one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the annual Time 100 list.[3]

Many of his films are noted for their loosely structured narrative; two of his projects – the Before... films and Boyhood – feature the same actors filmed over an extended period of years. He is also known for loyalty to his actors, having worked with Ethan Hawke and Matthew McConaughey in many of his films.

Early life

Linklater was born in Houston, Texas, the son of Diane Margaret (née Krieger), who taught at Sam Houston State University, and Charles W. Linklater, III.[4][5] He attended Huntsville High School in Huntsville, Texas, during grades 9-11, and finished at Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas for his senior year. Linklater studied at Sam Houston State University (where he also played baseball),[6] until dropping out to work on an off-shore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He frequently read novels on the rig and, upon returning to land, developed a love of film through repeated visits to a repertory theater in Houston. At this point, Linklater realized he wanted to be a filmmaker. He used his savings to buy a Super-8 camera, a projector, and editing equipment, and moved to Austin, Texas. He was influenced by Martin Scorsese[7][8] Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Josef Von Sternberg, and Carl Theodor Dreyer. He enrolled in Austin Community College in the fall of 1984 to study film.[9] Since his early 20s, Linklater has been a vegetarian. In 2015, he explained the dietary lifestyle in a Boyhood-style documentary for PETA.[10]


Austin Film Society

Linklater founded the Austin Film Society in 1985 together with his frequent collaborator Lee Daniel. One of the mentors for the Film Society was former New York City critic for the Soho Weekly News George Morris who had relocated to Austin and taught film there. Morris had previously written articles on Leo McCarey, Vincente Minnelli, George Sidney, and Douglas Sirk.

Early directing

For several years, Linklater made many short films that were exercises and experiments in film techniques. He finally completed his first feature, the rarely seen It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (which is now available in The Criterion Collection edition of Slacker), a Super-8 feature that took a year to shoot and another year to edit. The film is significant in the sense that it establishes most of Linklater's preoccupations. The film has his trademark style of minimal camera movements and lack of narrative, while it examines the theme of traveling with no real particular direction in mind. These idiosyncrasies would be explored in greater detail in future projects. To this end Linklater created Detour Filmproduction (an homage to the 1945 low budget film noir by Edgar G. Ulmer), and subsequently made Slacker for only $23,000. It went on to gross more than $1.25 million. The film is an aimless day in the life of the city of Austin, Texas showcasing its more eccentric characters.

Inspiration for Linklater's work was largely based on his experience viewing the film Raging Bull, Linklater told Robert K. Elder in an interview for The Film That Changed My Life.[11]

It made me see movies as a potential outlet for what I was thinking about and hoping to express. At that point I was an unformed artist. At that moment, something was simmering in me, but Raging Bull brought it to a boil.[12]

While gaining a cult following in the independent film world, he made his second film, Dazed and Confused, based on his years at Huntsville High School and the people he encountered there. The film garnered critical praise and grossed $8 million in the United States while becoming a hit on VHS. This film was also responsible for the breakout of fellow Texas native Matthew McConaughey. In 1995, Linklater won the Silver Bear for Best Director for the film Before Sunrise at the 45th Berlin International Film Festival.[13] His next feature, subUrbia, had mixed reviews critically, and did very poorly at the box office. In 1996, Linklater lent his voice to the critically acclaimed animated feature Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. In 1998, he took on his first Hollywood feature, The Newton Boys, which received mixed reviews while tanking at the box office.

21st century

With the rotoscope films Waking Life, and A Scanner Darkly, and his mainstream comedies, School of Rock and the remake of Bad News Bears, he gained wider recognition. In 2003, he wrote and directed a pilot for HBO with Rodney Rothman called $5.15/hr, about several minimum wage restaurant workers. The pilot deals with themes later examined in Fast Food Nation. In 2004, the British television network Channel 4 produced a major documentary about Linklater, in which the filmmaker frankly discussed the personal and philosophical ideas behind his films. "St Richard of Austin" was presented by Ben Lewis and directed by Irshad Ashraf and broadcast on Channel 4 in December 2004 in the UK. In 2005, Linklater was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film Before Sunset, and was nominated for the same award with its sequel Before Midnight in 2014.

Many of Linklater's films take place in one day, a narrative approach that has gained popularity in recent years. Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Tape, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight are examples of this method. Two of his films, (A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life), used rotoscoping animation techniques. Working with Bob Sabiston and Sabiston's program Rotoshop to create this effect, Linklater shot and edited both movies completely as live action features, then employed a team of artists to "trace over" individual frames. The result is a distinctive "semi-real" quality, praised by such critics as Roger Ebert (in the case of Waking Life) as being original and well-suited to the aims of the film.

Fast Food Nation (2006) is an adaptation of the best selling book that examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry. The film was entered into the 2006 Cannes Film Festival[14] before being released in North America on November 17, 2006 and in Europe on March 23, 2007. After releasing Fast Food Nation to mixed reviews, Linklater returned to form as a critical darling with A Scanner Darkly (released in the same year), 2009's Me and Orson Welles garnering an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 2012's Bernie receiving a 91% rating.[15]

In 2014 he released a film in the making for 12 years titled Boyhood, which received overwhelming critical acclaim. It is the only film released in the 21st century to have received a perfect 100 score from review-aggregator Metacritic.[16] His daughter Lorelei Linklater co-stars in the film as the sister of the central character. For a while Linklater was attached to direct a remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet for Warner Brothers.[17] In 2014, however, he dropped the project in favor of working on a spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, titled Everybody Wants Some!!,[17] with backing from Annapurna Pictures and Paramount distributing the film in North America.[18] Everybody Wants Some!! was released in March 2016. It was well received by critics, and awarded a score of 83 on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

Linklater was attached to direct an adaptation of Graeme Simsion's novel The Rosie Project that would have starred Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role, but Linklater dropped out of directing when Lawrence dropped out of the project.[20] Linklater is attached to direct Where'd You Go Bernadette?, produced by Annapurna Pictures.[21]

Despite the popularity of many of his films and having directed multiple high-paying Hollywood productions, Linklater remains in Austin, Texas and refuses to live or work in Hollywood for any extended period of time. Linklater is known for using the same actors in many of his films including Ethan Hawke, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Julie Delpy and Patricia Arquette. 21 Years: Richard Linklater, a documentary about Linklater, is scheduled to debut in November 2014 at the Denver Film Festival.[22]


In the early 1990s, Slacker was widely considered an accurate depiction of Generation X because the film's young adult characters are more interested in quasi-intellectual pastimes and socializing than career advancement.[23] However, Linklater has long since eschewed the role of generational spokesperson and is ironically a "Baby Boomer" himself. Moreover, the movie actually includes various generations, and many of its themes are universal rather than generation-specific.[24]


Feature films

Year Name Director Writer Producer Actor
1988 It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books Yes Yes Yes Yes
1991 Slacker Yes Yes Yes Yes
1993 Dazed and Confused Yes Yes Yes
1995 Before Sunrise Yes Yes
The Underneath Yes
1996 Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Yes
SubUrbia Yes
1998 The Newton Boys Yes Yes
Scotch and Milk Yes
2001 Spy Kids Yes
Chelsea Walls Yes
Waking Life Yes Yes Yes
Tape Yes
2003 School of Rock Yes
2004 Before Sunset Yes Yes Yes
2005 Bad News Bears Yes Yes
2006 Fast Food Nation Yes Yes
The Hottest State Yes
A Scanner Darkly Yes Yes
2008 Me and Orson Welles Yes Yes
RSO (Registered Sex Offender) Yes
2011 Bernie Yes Yes Yes Yes
2013 Before Midnight Yes Yes Yes
2014 Boyhood Yes Yes Yes
2016 Everybody Wants Some!! Yes Yes Yes
2017 Last Flag Flying Yes Yes

Other works

Year Name Director Writer Producer Notes
1985 Woodshock Yes short
1991 Heads I Win/Tails You Lose Yes Yes Yes experimental video project
2003 Live from Shiva's Dance Floor Yes short
2004 $5.15/Hr. Yes Yes Yes television pilot
2008 Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach Yes documentary
2012 Up to Speed Yes Yes Yes television series
2016-present School of Rock[25] Yes television series; executive producer


Critical reception

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Slacker 85%[26] 69[27]
Dazed and Confused 94%[28] 78[29]
Before Sunrise 100%[30] 77[31]
SubUrbia 64%[32] 62[33]
The Newton Boys 62%[34] 57[35]
Waking Life 80%[36] 82[37]
Tape 78%[38] 71[39]
School of Rock 92%[40] 82[41]
Before Sunset 95%[42] 90[43]
Bad News Bears 48%[44] 65[45]
Fast Food Nation 50%[46] 64[47]
A Scanner Darkly 69%[48] 73[49]
Me and Orson Welles 85%[50] 73[51]
Bernie 90%[52] 75[53]
Before Midnight 98%[54] 94[55]
Boyhood 98%[56] 100[16]
Everybody Wants Some!! 88%[57] 83[58]
Average 81% 76

Box office

Film Release date Revenue Budget Reference
United States Outside United States Worldwide
Slacker July 5, 1991 $1,228,208 N/A $1,228,208 $23,000 [59]
Dazed and Confused September 24, 1993 $7,993,039 N/A $7,993,039 $6.9 million [60]
Before Sunrise January 27, 1995 $5,535,405 N/A $5,535,405 $2.5 million [61]
SubUrbia February 7, 1997 $656,747 N/A $656,747 N/A [62]
The Newton Boys March 27, 1998 $10,452,012 N/A $10,452,012 $27 million [63]
Waking Life October 19, 2001 $2,901,447 $275,433 $3,176,880 N/A [64]
Tape November 2, 2001 $490,475 $25,425 $515,900 $100,000 [65]
School of Rock October 3, 2003 $81,261,177 $50,021,772 $131,282,949 $35 million [66]
Before Sunset July 2, 2004 $5,820,649 $10,171,966 $15,992,615 $2.7 million [67]
Bad News Bears July 22, 2005 $32,868,349 $1,384,498 $34,252,847 $35 million [68]
A Scanner Darkly July 7, 2006 $5,501,616 $2,158,302 $7,659,918 $8.7 million[69] [70]
Fast Food Nation November 17, 2006 $1,005,539 $1,203,783 $2,209,322 N/A [71]
Me and Orson Welles November 25, 2009 $1,190,003 $1,146,169 $2,336,172 $25 million [72]
Bernie April 27, 2012 $9,206,470 $884,171 $10,090,641 $6 million [73]
Before Midnight May 24, 2013 $8,114,627 $3,061,842 $23,376,973 $3 million[74] [75]
Boyhood July 11, 2014 $25,071,500 $19,143,000 $44,214,500 $4 million [76]
Total $198,132,207 $89,476,361 $287,608,568 $155.923 million

Awards and nominations


  2. According to the State of Texas. Texas Birth Index, 1903–1997. At
  6. Sam Houston State University facebook, "", 6 April 2016.
  9. Alison Macor. Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids 30 Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas University of Texas Press: Austin, 2010.
  10. Robert Philpot, "Richard Linklater Does ‘Veghood’ for PETA," Star-Telegram, 17 February 2015.
  11. "The Film That Changed My Life: 30 Directors on Their Epiphanies in the Dark". Retrieved 2011-02-22.
  12. Linklater, Richard. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p197. Print.
  13. "Berlinale: 1995 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  14. "Festival de Cannes: Fast Food Nation". Retrieved 2009-12-13.
  15. "Rotten Tomatoes: Richard Linklater". Retrieved 2009-12-13.
  16. 1 2 Boyhood. Metacritic.
  17. 1 2 Fischer, Russ. "Richard Linklater Leaves 'The Incredible Mr. Limpet' to Focus on 'That's What I'm Talking About'". /Film. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  18. Patches, Matt (September 30, 2014). "Megan Ellison's Annapurna to produce Richard Linklater's 'Dazed' spiritual Sequel, 'That's What I'm Talking About's". Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  19. "Everybody Wants Some!! Metascore". Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  20. Kit, Borys. "Richard Linklater Follows Jennifer Lawrence Off Sony's 'Rosie Project' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  21. Siegel, Tatiana Siegel; Kit, Borys (February 26, 2015). "Richard Linklater in Talks to Direct 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' (Exclusive)". Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  22. 21 Years: Richard Linklater (2014) - Release Info at the IMDB. Retrieved 2014 October 7.
  23. Richard Linklater, Slacker, St Martins Griffin, 1992.
  24. Lesley Speed, "The Possibilities of Roads Not Taken", Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 35, no. 3, Fall 2007, p. 103.
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  27. "Slacker Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic".
  28. "Dazed and Confused Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  29. "Dazed and Confused Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic".
  30. "Fight Club Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  31. "Before Sunrise Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic".
  32. "Panic Room Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  33. "SubUrbia Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic".
  34. "The Newton Boys Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  35. "The Newton Boys Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic".
  36. "Waking Life Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  37. "Waking Life Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic".
  38. "Tape Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  39. Tape. Metacritic.
  40. "School of Rock Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  41. School of Rock. Metacritic.
  42. "Before Sunset Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  43. "Before Sunset Reviews - Metacritic".
  44. "Bad News Bears Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  45. Bad News Bears. Metacritic.
  46. "Fast Food Nation Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  47. Fast Food Nation. Metacritic.
  48. "A Scanner Darkly Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  49. A Scanner Darkly. Metacritic.
  50. "Me and Orson Welles Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  51. Me and Orson Welles. Metacritic.
  52. "Bernie Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  53. Bernie. Metacritic.
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  55. Before Midnight. Metacritic.
  56. "Boyhood Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  57. "Everybody wants some!!Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes.
  58. . Metacritic.
  59. "Slacker (1991)". Box Office Mojo.
  60. "Dazed and Confused (1993)". Box Office Mojo.
  61. "Before Sunrise (1995)". Box Office Mojo.
  62. "SubUrbia (1997)". Box Office Mojo.
  63. "The Newton Boys (1998)". Box Office Mojo.
  64. "Waking Life (2001)". Box Office Mojo.
  65. "Tape (2002)". Box Office Mojo.
  66. "School of Rock (2003)". Box Office Mojo.
  67. "Before Sunset (2004)". Box Office Mojo.
  68. "Bad News Bears (2005)". Box Office Mojo.
  69. La Franco, Robert (March 2006). "Trouble in Toontown". Wired magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-31.
  70. "A Scanner Darkly (2006)". Box Office Mojo.
  71. "Fast Food Nation (2006)". Box Office Mojo.
  72. "Me and Orson Welles (2009)". Box Office Mojo.
  73. "Bernie (2012)". Box Office Mojo.
  74. Borrelli, Christopher (May 24, 2013). "Richard Linklater finishes trilogy with 'Before Midnight'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  75. "Before Midnight (2013)". Box Office Mojo.
  76. "Boyhood (2014)". Box Office Mojo.
  77. "Richard Linklater". Retrieved June 28, 2013.

External links

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