Film Independent At LACMA Presents Live Read Of "Dazed And Confused"

The script read by the cast at LACMA Thursday was dated February 20, 1992. From then until the release date of September 24, 1993, there were many additions and subtractions.

New additions

  • As the soon-to-be freshman boys talk about being scared of the seniors, the camera pans to a group of black kids who laugh at them. Apparently, the seniors only mess with the whites. There is a lot more talk about race in the script.
  • There’s another friend with Mike, Tony and Cynthia. We see them play poker, talk about presidents and then the trio drop him off at a black dance club. But they drop him off a few blocks down from the club so he doesn’t get beat up.
  • There’s a full scene of two “nerds” spying on the freshman girls getting hazed. They are discovered by Don and Benny, who eventually get them to spill the beans about where Mitch is going to be that night. It explains how they find him pitching.
  • Sabrina is still dropped off at home by Jodi, but her home isn’t a house. It’s a trailer in the backyard and her mother is a drunk.
  • It’s not one of the guys who asks Mitch to buy him beer. It’s an older man named Elvis who is pool-sharking for a lot of money.
  • Jodi and Michelle (maybe?) share a final moment, after the party, at the Moon Tower. They look out at the town and discuss life and their futures toward the end of the movie. Many of the female roles are bigger here, with more talk of insecurities and philosophy.
  • Don and Pink are both arrested for stealing Ronald McDonald. However, earlier in the film they come up with a common explanation in case this happens. The cop asks Don if they found the statue face up or face down and he randomly guesses face up. When they both get released Pink says to him, “Face up?” And Don replies “Face up!” And they high five.

Film Independent At LACMA Presents Live Read Of "Dazed And Confused"

What’s Missing

  • Wooderson. Yes, the character is in this version of the script, but he’s cut back considerably. He’s not the one who really organizes the party. He doesn’t really show up at the party. He doesn’t have the flirtatious scene with red-head Cynthia, and he’s not the person driving to get Aerosmith tickets. My guess is Linklater saw something in McConaughey and decided to give some of Pickford’s role to Wooderson.
  • Pink. Again, yes, he’s in the script and is a main character. But he’s just one of the guys. He’s not in any way different from the others except that he’s more laid back. In the final movie, he’s the quarterback. That’s not mentioned here. The movie has a whole subplot with a pledge the football coaches want him to sign. That isn’t there. He doesn’t talk to an old man about the team next year. In fact, there’s very little about him questioning his role next year, especially on the football team. The only glimpse of this is he tells Tony he doesn’t want to be the sports editor for the newspaper next year. Perhaps Linklater thought the film needed an outright rejection of authority, and so expanded the character to fill that role.

Film Independent At LACMA Presents Live Read Of "Dazed And Confused"

Conclusion

As you can tell, Jason Reitman’s latest live read at LACMA, presented by Film Independent, was a good one. Really fun performances of a great script that definitely illuminated some of what Linklater did and had to do to reach the movie we know and love today. As a live read, even having 11 people to read wasn’t sufficient. The way actors had to switch characters made the story difficult to follow unless you were a super fan of the movie.

At the same time, even with that confusion, one thing became abundantly clear. While the Dazed and Confused we saw in theaters was about 85% of what was in this 1992 script, the heart and characters were all there. Everything is perfectly defined, beautifully written and amazingly distinctive. Linklater’s dialogue is more than just conversational, it’s musical. But not in a Shakespeare way. He conveys thoughts and interaction in a way that sounds completely natural but remains beautiful. It’s the Linklater way.

Last thing. How did I know the actor who was supposed to play Wooderson was a last minute cancellation? Well, I’ve been covering the Live Reads for a long time but, for this one, I was talking to Jason Reitman for two weeks, getting constant updates on what it takes to put together an event like this. And next week, you’ll read about all the behind the scenes drama, work and excitement that goes into creating a live read.

Film Independent At LACMA Presents Live Read Of "Dazed And Confused"

Thanks to Jason Reitman, LACMA and Film Independent at LACMA for another great event.

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