Richard Linklater

Richard Stuart Linklater (/ˈlɪŋkltər/; born July 30, 1960)[2] is an American filmmaker. Linklater is known for his realistic and natural humanist films, which revolve mainly around suburban culture and the effects of the passage of time. His films include the observational comedy film Slacker (1990); the coming-of-age comedy film Dazed and Confused (1993); the romantic drama Before trilogy, Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013); the music-themed comedy School of Rock (2003); the animated films Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2006); the epic coming-of age drama Boyhood (2014); and the comedy film Everybody Wants Some!! (2016).

Richard Linklater
Linklater in 2015
Richard Stuart Linklater

(1960-07-30) July 30, 1960
ResidenceAustin, Texas, U.S.
OccupationDirector, screenwriter, producer
Years active1985–present[1]
Notable work
Boyhood, Dazed and Confused, Before trilogy, School of Rock, Slacker

In 2015, Linklater was included on the annual Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[3]

Linklater is known to have a distinct style and method of filmmaking. Many of his films are noted for their loosely structured narrative; several of his projects—the Before... films and Boyhood—feature the same actors filmed over an extended period of years.

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, where he played football for Joe Clements as a backup quarterback for the #1 ranked team in the state. For his senior year, he moved to Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas because he was a better at baseball than football and Bellaire had a better baseball coach. As a teen, Linklater won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.[6][7]

Linklater studied at Sam Houston State University (where he also played baseball),[8] 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 enrolled in Austin Community College in the fall of 1984 to study film.[9]


1985–2000: Early directing

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.

For several years, Linklater made many short films that were exercises and experiments in film techniques. He finally completed his first feature, It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (which is available in The Criterion Collection edition of his second feature, 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.

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 shows 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 third 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.[10] His next feature, subUrbia, had mixed reviews critically, and did very poorly at the box office. In 1998, he took on his first Hollywood feature, The Newton Boys, which received mixed reviews while tanking at the box office.

2001–2013: Wider recognition

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.

The British television network Channel 4 produced a documentary about Linklater, in which the filmmaker 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.

Linklater was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film Before Sunset.

Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly both 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[11] before being released in North America on November 17, 2006 and in Europe on March 23, 2007. The film received mixed reviews.

Linklater fared better with the critics with A Scanner Darkly (released in the same year), Me and Orson Welles (2009), and Bernie (2011).[12]

He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Midnight, the third film in the Before... trilogy.[13]

2014–present: Boyhood

In 2014 he released the film Boyhood, which had been 12 years in the making.[14] Boyhood received overwhelming critical acclaim. Linklater won the Golden Globes, 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 Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.

For a while Linklater was attached to direct a remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet for Warner Brothers.[15] However, he dropped the project in favor of working on a spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, titled Everybody Wants Some!!,[15] with backing from Annapurna Pictures and Paramount distributing the film in North America.[16] The film was released in March 2016 and was well received by critics, but it failed to recoup its budget of 10 million dollars, grossing only 4.6 million.[17][18]

In the second half of the 2010s, Linklater wrote and directed the drama film Last Flag Flying, starring Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, and Steve Carell. A sequel to Hal Ashby's 1973 film The Last Detail, it began filming in November 2016, and was released on November 3, 2017.[19] Linklater then directed Where'd You Go, Bernadette, based on the novel by Maria Semple and produced by Annapurna Pictures.[20]

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 he dropped out of directing when Lawrence dropped out of the project.[21]

In 2019, it was announced that Linklater would be filming an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical Merrily We Roll Along. Like Boyhood, it will be filmed over the course of several years, but, like the musical and the play it is based on, will be presented in reverse chronology.[22]

Directorial style

Inspiration for Linklater's work was largely based on his experience viewing the film Raging Bull.[23][24]

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.[25]

He was also influenced by Robert Bresson, Yasujirō Ozu, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Josef Von Sternberg, and Carl Theodor Dreyer.[26][27]

Many of Linklater's films, including Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and Before Sunrise, take place in a single day. They are less plot driven and more about human interactions between people and they vary in time and situation.[28]

Ethan Hawke and Matthew McConaughey have appeared in many of his films. Other actors who have appeared in more than one film include Jack Black, Julie Delpy, Ellar Coltrane, Adam Goldberg, Parker Posey, Rory Cochrane, Greg Kinnear, Patricia Arquette, and Laurence Fishburne.

Personal life

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 has been a vegetarian since his early 20s. In 2015, he explained the dietary lifestyle in a Boyhood-style documentary for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.[29]

Though not married, Linklater has been partnered with Christina Harrison since the 1990s.[30] In 1994 they had a daughter, and twin girls in 2004. The oldest Lorelei Linklater, co-starred in Boyhood as the sister of the main character.


Feature films

Year Name Director Writer Producer Notes
1988 It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books Yes Yes Yes Also editor and cinematographer
1990 Slacker Yes Yes Yes
1993 Dazed and Confused Yes Yes Yes
1995 Before Sunrise Yes Yes
1996 SubUrbia Yes
1998 The Newton Boys Yes Yes
2001 Waking Life Yes Yes Also cinematographer
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
A Scanner Darkly Yes Yes
2008 Me and Orson Welles Yes Yes
2011 Bernie Yes Yes Yes
2013 Before Midnight Yes Yes Yes
2014 Boyhood Yes Yes Yes
2015 I Dream Too Much executive
2016 Everybody Wants Some!! Yes Yes Yes
2017 Last Flag Flying Yes Yes
2019 Where'd You Go, Bernadette Yes Yes

Acting roles

Year Name Role Notes
1988 It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books Unnamed character
1990 Slacker "Should Have Stayed at the Bus Station"
1995 The Underneath Ember Doorman
1995 Before Sunrise Foosball player
1996 Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Tour Bus Driver Voice role
1998 Scotch and Milk Cab Passenger
2001 Spy Kids Cool Spy
Chelsea Walls Crony #2
Waking Life Pinball Playing Man / Man on Back of Boat
2006 The Hottest State John Wayne Enthusiast
2008 RSO (Registered Sex Offender) Principal Mallard
2018 Blaze Oilman #3

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 web series
2016–2018 School of Rock[31] Yes television series; executive producer


Critical reception

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Dazed and Confused94%[34]78[35]
Before Sunrise100%[36]77[37]
The Newton Boys62%[40]57[41]
Waking Life80%[42]82[43]
School of Rock92%[46]82[47]
Before Sunset95%[48]90[49]
Bad News Bears48%[50]65[51]
Fast Food Nation50%[52]64[53]
A Scanner Darkly69%[54]73[55]
Me and Orson Welles85%[56]73[57]
Before Midnight98%[60]94[61]
Everybody Wants Some!!88%[64]83[65]
Last Flag Flying73%[66]65[67]
Where'd You Go, Bernadette48%[68]51[69]

Box office

Film Release date Revenue Budget Reference
United States Outside United States Worldwide
Slacker July 27, 1990 (1990-07-27) $1,228,208 N/A $1,228,208 $23,000 [70]
Dazed and Confused September 24, 1993 (1993-09-24) $7,993,039 N/A $7,993,039 $6.9 million [71]
Before Sunrise January 27, 1995 (1995-01-27) $5,535,405 N/A $5,535,405 $2.5 million [72]
SubUrbia February 7, 1997 (1997-02-07) $656,747 N/A $656,747 N/A [73]
The Newton Boys March 27, 1998 (1998-03-27) $10,452,012 N/A $10,452,012 $27 million [74]
Waking Life October 19, 2001 (2001-10-19) $2,901,447 $275,433 $3,176,880 N/A [75]
Tape November 2, 2001 (2001-11-02) $490,475 $25,425 $515,900 $100,000 [76]
School of Rock October 3, 2003 (2003-10-03) $81,261,177 $50,021,772 $131,282,949 $35 million [77]
Before Sunset July 2, 2004 (2004-07-02) $5,820,649 $10,171,966 $15,992,615 $2.7 million [78]
Bad News Bears July 22, 2005 (2005-07-22) $32,868,349 $1,384,498 $34,252,847 $35 million [79]
A Scanner Darkly July 7, 2006 (2006-07-07) $5,501,616 $2,158,302 $7,659,918 $8.7 million[80] [81]
Fast Food Nation November 17, 2006 (2006-11-17) $1,005,539 $1,203,783 $2,209,322 N/A [82]
Me and Orson Welles November 25, 2009 (2009-11-25) $1,190,003 $1,146,169 $2,336,172 $25 million [83]
Bernie April 27, 2012 (2012-04-27) $9,206,470 $884,171 $10,090,641 $6 million [84]
Before Midnight May 24, 2013 (2013-05-24) $8,114,627 $3,061,842 $23,376,973 $3 million[85] [86]
Boyhood July 11, 2014 (2014-07-11) $25,071,500 $19,143,000 $44,214,500 $4 million [87]
Total $198,132,207 $89,476,361 $287,608,568 $155.923 million

Awards and nominations


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  2. According to the State of Texas. Texas Birth Index, 1903–1997. At
  3. "Richard Linklater". Time. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  5. Barlow, Helen (4 July 2014). "Why 'Boyhood' is a movie for the ages" via
  7. Vine, Kate (December 2005). "Richard Linklater". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  8. Sam Houston State University Facebook. "Throwing back to the 1980 #SHSU Baseball team in which writer, director and producer Richard Linklater was a member of. #TBT". 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. "Berlinale: 1995 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-12-30.
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  13. McNary, Dave (January 29, 2014). "Julie Delpy on Before Midnight: Obsessively Written, Down to the Commas". Variety.
  14. Kilday, Gregg (November 20, 2014). "Making of 'Boyhood': What You Don't Know About Richard Linklater's 12-Year Shoot". Hollywood Reporter.
  15. Fischer, Russ. "Richard Linklater Leaves 'The Incredible Mr. Limpet' to Focus on 'That's What I'm Talking About'". /Film. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  16. Patches, Matt (September 30, 2014). "Annapurna to produce Richard Linklater's 'Dazed' spiritual sequel". Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  17. "Everybody Wants Some!! Metascore". Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  18. "Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) – Weekend Box Office Results". Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  19. Busch, Anita (28 July 2017). "'Last Flag Flying' Moves To Lionsgate And Up A Week On Release Schedule". Deadline. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
  20. Siegel, Tatiana; Kit, Borys (February 26, 2015). "Richard Linklater in Talks to Direct 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' (Exclusive)". Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  21. Kit, Borys. "Richard Linklater Follows Jennifer Lawrence Off Sony's 'Rosie Project' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  22. Sneider, Jeff. "Exclusive: Richard Linklater, Ben Platt, Beanie Feldstein Team for Sondheim Musical". Collider. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
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  25. 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.
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