‘Dazed and Confused’ Turns 25: Parker Posey Tells Us Why Film Set Had Perfect Hangout Vibe

“It was so independent, so free. You could dance like no one was watching,” actress says of making cult classic

Parker Posey Dazed and Confused
Gramercy Pictures

Sometimes when Parker Posey is watching a movie, she looks at the screen and wonders if the actors got along when they were working together. Other times, she said, she can even tell if they didn’t.

Though Posey has worked in many close-knit casts in Christopher Guest’s many films — including “Best in Show” — she told TheWrap that one of her best on-set experiences remains Richard Linklater’s 1993 cult classic “Dazed and Confused.”

The film, about 1970s-era teenagers partying it up after last day of school, turns 25 this month. It endures in the annals of cinema, with a reputation as one of the ultimate hangout movies and expressions of high school nostalgia. Posey said the mood Linklater established as they filmed in Austin, Texas was “a pure experience” and a beautiful bonding moment between actors.

To most longtime fans of the film, it shows.

“It was so open. You could go up to actors; that was really great,” Posey told TheWrap in a recent interview about the film, which helped launch the careers of Ben Affleck, Adam Goldberg, Jason London, Milla Jovovich, Anthony Rapp and Joey Adams. “It just felt like a kinship there. There weren’t a lot of egos, no ‘this is my power play, we’re going to turn it around here on camera.’”

In the film, Posey plays Darla, a bitchy, foul-mouthed senior and cheerleader who hazes incoming freshman girls. She shouts “AIR RAID” and the young ladies hit the ground to lie on their stomachs on command. “What are you looking at? Wipe that face off your head, bitch,” Darla famously says.

In her book “You’re on an Airplane,” Posey described her character as a “bad girl, but cool.” And you can see the thought and dimension that went into her character in a behind-the-scenes clip where Posey is interviewed in character:

“She was a bad girl with a rough upbringing, I decided,” Posey wrote. “She would make her friends do things they regretted the next day, like drink too much and say something they wish they hadn’t or go to the drug store and swap the hair dye in the boxes or put Ex-Lax in a batch of brownies or Nair her dad’s hairy back when her dad’s passed out drunk. She was one of those my feelings are facts people, one of those drama queens.”

Fittingly, the ensemble is rich with personalities, a whole community of kids you might’ve known once upon a time, the ones you dated, smoked with, or gotten beaten up by. And though it’s a movie intrinsically tied to the ’70s, it feels timeless because it’s all so relatable and familiar.

“So much of the group is a collaboration between all these different kinds of people. The balance of such a huge cast, that’s amazing,” Posey told TheWrap. “There are so many similar people, they don’t feel like characters. It’s like, I know that person, I knew that person in high school.”

Posey described a dorm room-like vibe in the hotel shared between the 20 or so members of the cast. Linklater provided everyone with mixtapes of the songs he intended to be in the film in the hopes that the music could get everyone in the headspace of the 1970s.

“I think music has a big part of it. You get to the soul of something a lot more easily when there’s music, time, anything that has this attention to detail,” Posey said. “It was so independent, so free. You could dance like no one was watching. There was a freedom there. It was such a different time. And it was 25 years ago.”

Posey said she became close friends with her on-screen best friend, played by Joey Lauren Adams. The two of them suggested a scene where Darla and Simone would be relieving themselves in the woods during the film’s big party sequence. They had never seen a girl go in a film before, they told the director.

She also mentioned to Linklater another hazing tactic that was even more ruthless than the seniors covering the freshman in condiments and forcing them to “fry like bacon.” In her book, she pitched Linklater on something her Aunt Peggy remembers, knotting together oysters on a line of dental floss and making the freshman swallow it so the seniors could pull it out of their stomachs. But that one didn’t make it into “Dazed.”

The film still endures and feels profound because, Posey said, the entire cast shared the vibe of that time and Linklater’s collective focus in a way that many films never fully achieve.

“All these ideas that were nostalgic that we carried around on set, what do I remember about my childhood and these people. I still have vivid memories of behavior and this idea of cool,” Posey said. “It’s that kind of intimacy, and I think that’s one of the things that makes ‘Dazed’ such a classic.”