Last modified on 17 July 2014, at 04:59

Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater
Linklater at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival
Born Richard Stuart Linklater
(1960-07-30) July 30, 1960 (age 53)
Houston, Texas
Occupation Director, screenwriter, producer, actor
Years active 1985–present[1]
Spouse(s) Christina Harrison

Richard Stuart Linklater (born July 30, 1960)[2] is an American film director and screenwriter. He is known for films such as Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly, School of Rock, Before Sunrise and its sequels, and Boyhood.

Early lifeEdit

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.[3][4] He attended Bellaire High School and studied at Sam Houston State University, 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 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.[5]

Since his early 20s, Linklater has been a vegetarian.[6]


Austin Film SocietyEdit

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


Inspiration for Linklater's work was largely based on his experience with the film Raging Bull, Linklater told Robert K. Elder in an interview for The Film That Changed My Life.[7]

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.[8]

Early directingEdit

For several years, Linklater made many short films that were, more than anything, 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.


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 Austin, 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.[9] 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 centuryEdit

With the rotoscope films Waking Life, and A Scanner Darkly, his mainstream comedies, School of Rock and the remake of Bad News Bears, have gained him 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.

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 recent 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[10] 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.[11]

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.


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.[12] 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.[13]

Those of Linklater's films that have non-formulaic narratives about seemingly random occurrences, often spanning about twenty-four hours, have been hailed as alternatives to contemporary Hollywood market-driven blockbusters. In conjunction with these unorthodox narratives, the emphasis on philosophical talk over physical action in Slacker and Waking Life aligns Linklater's work with art cinema traditions, particularly those of Europe, from which much recent American cinema is estranged.[14]

Linklater’s films are often cited as being ‘bafflingly diffuse in their style and subject, ranging from ‘feel-good’ to ‘philosophically serious’. Following decades of critical bemusement, he announced that the name was actually a clever ruse, because his films would indeed eventually ‘link later’.


Awards and nominationsEdit



  1. ^
  2. ^ According to the State of Texas. Texas Birth Index, 1903–1997. At
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Alison Macor. Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids 30 Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas University of Texas Press: Austin, 2010.
  6. ^ Brooks, Xan (2006-05-22). "I've never been in the firing line like this before". Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  7. ^ "The Film That Changed My Life: 30 Directors on Their Epiphanies in the Dark". Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Berlinale: 1995 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  10. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Fast Food Nation". Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  11. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes: Richard Linklater". Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  12. ^ Richard Linklater, Slacker, St Martins Griffin, 1992.
  13. ^ Lesley Speed, "The Possibilities of Roads Not Taken", Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 35, no. 3, Fall 2007, p. 103.
  14. ^ Speed, p. 103.
  15. ^ Neumyer, Scott (2013-10-25). "Richard Linklater Talks Before Midnight, Boyhood, and a Possible TV Series". Parade. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  16. ^ "Richard Linklater". Retrieved June 28, 2013.

External linksEdit