Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater Biography.com

Filmmaker(1960–)
Richard Linklater is a writer-director known for such films as ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Boyhood.’

Synopsis

Richard Linklater was born in Houston, Texas, in July 1960. After moving to Austin and founding a film society after he dropped out of college, Linklater began making small-budget movies, with early notable films such as Slacker and Dazed and Confused generating a lot of buzz. Linklater has branched out at times into mainstream Hollywood fare such as Bad News Bears and School of Rock, but he quickly retreated into quieter, more personal films like Before Sunset and Before Midnight, having been nominated for two Oscars as well. 2014's Boyhood received overwhelming critical praise for its storytelling and unique process. In addition to receiving Oscar nominations, both the film and Linklater himself won Golden Globes in 2015.

Early Years

Richard Linklater was born on July 30, 1960, in Houston, Texas, and was raised by his mother. A natural athlete, Linklater excelled at baseball, and after high school, Linklater was awarded a baseball scholarship to Sam Houston State University. He was a starter his first year, but an infection resulted in an irregular heartbeat and Linklater had to give up the game he loved.

It wasn’t long before he dropped out entirely and went to work on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, a job he held for a couple of years. The oil industry job allowed Linklater to save some money, and, in a complete change of pace, he used his savings when he moved to Austin to co-found the Austin Film Society and start working on a short film. 

Film Career

Linklater’s first feature film was It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1987), and he wrote and directed it with no formal background in filmmaking. His early movies explored what he called "the youth rebellion continuum," parsing generational nuances and the quiet zeitgeist of the 20-something culture. A great example of this is his 1990 release Slacker, the work that would put him on the indie map.

Beyond putting Linklater front and center as an up-and-coming writer/director, the work went a long way toward helping establish the American independent film movement of the 1990s. Slacker—which Linklater made for just $23,000—hit the film festival circuit with a vengeance, and it made a real splash at Sundance and in the mainstream media as well. It also ensured that the term slacker was on the tips of everyone tongues to describe the generation’s disaffected youth.

In 1993, Linklater released Dazed and Confused, a movie that went on to become a huge hit and enduring cult favorite. A look at 1970s junior high and high school life, the movie also introduced to the wider world a slew of emerging actors such as Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich and Ben Affleck. With Dazed and Confused a hit, Linklater had even more freedom in his projects. Somewhat personal, distinctive films followed like Before Sunrise (1995), Waking Life (2001) and Before Sunset (2004; the sequel to Before Sunrise).

'After Midnight' and 'Boyhood'

Linklater never gave up on his indie spirit, even when he was making mainstream (for him) movies, as can be seen in several films he directed but didn’t write like Bad News Bears (2005), Fast Food Nation (2006) and A Scanner Darkly (2006; based on the book by Philip K. Dick). He also returned to his Before Sunset/Before Sunrise series in 2013 with After Midnight.

Linklater’s 17th film, Boyhood, opened in 2014 after years of discussion, starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. Linklater took a unique approach to capturing his protagonists: He filmed for several days each year for nearly a dozen years, using the same cast to see them age naturally on screen. Linklater has called the film “simply a collection of intimate little moments. No one much bigger than the other.... All the kind of stuff that would get cut out of other movies.” 

The film has received overwhelming critical support and an array of award nominations, landing on several “best of” lists as well. Boyhood has been nominated for five Golden Globes, winning for Best Motion Picture, Drama, with Linklater himself winning for Best Director. The film has also earned several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, with Linklater receiving nods for directing and his original screenplay.

Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater at the 'Boyhood' press conference during 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Photo: cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com

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