“It was like a relationship where you’re too much in love. And that’s going to burn itself out.”
People hook up on film sets all the time. That’s what tends to happen when beautiful people leave their boyfriends and girlfriends (or husbands and wives) at home to go on location with other beautiful people and perform a job that requires them to create realistic chemistry with one another.
Hookups likely happened even more often in 1992, when there were fewer legal ramifications to prevent you from making out with your coworkers, and before everyone had cell phones, so actors had to find more creative ways to kill long stretches of downtime.
Still, there’s something almost sweet about most of the hookups that happened during Dazed and Confused. Somehow, the romances seem more innocent. For many of the young actors, this was the first time shooting a film away from New York or L.A. Most of them didn’t know anyone else in Austin. Long-distance calls to loved ones back home were expensive, so they saved their most intimate conversations for one another. And, according to Christin Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum, who played Sabrina, the excitement of embarking on something brand new, together, bonded them: “It was kind of like the feeling of a first love.”
Meanwhile, director Richard Linklater was trying as hard as possible not to be in a relationship. In September 1991, just a few days before he flew to L.A. to pitch Dazed, he met a young University of Texas graduate student named Tina Harrison, who had moved to Austin from the Bay Area to study art history. One of Linklater’s friends was attracted to Harrison’s roommate, and this friend dragged Linklater to a show by the Austin punk band Moist Fist, hoping he’d find the young woman there. Once they got to the show, Harrison and Linklater ended up hanging out instead. She thought he was cute, she later said, even though he had “weird hair.” Harrison is still his partner today, nearly 30 years later. But at the time, Linklater wasn’t ready to be in a committed relationship, unless it was with his own film.
Jonathan Burkhart: I’ll tell you why there were a lot of hookups on Dazed. There was a lot of flirting within the script. It was like: It’s summertime. School’s out. Let’s make out!
Wiley Wiggins: You’re stuck with a bunch of other young, horny people. We all had our confidence bolstered in a way that maybe it hadn’t been before. And they put makeup on you. Somebody does your hair. You look good!
Adam Goldberg: You take a group of really interesting, talented people in this really seminal period in their lives, and you stick them in a hotel together, and suddenly, there’s a fine line between sexuality and creative fulfillment.
Marissa Ribisi: We were all fucking hormonal. We couldn’t help it!
Wiggins: I had a crush on everybody on that set. I had a crush on Parker. I had a crush on Chrisse.
Parker Posey: I had a crush on Cole Hauser. Rory, he’s another one I had a crush on.
Wiggins: I was an unstoppable ball of hormones. I had a crush on Marissa. She was a sweet lady, and I have a curly-hair fetish.
Ribisi: I was so in love with [actor] Jason [Lee] at the time, even though he made me crazy. I compare every relationship I have to that relationship, because he was such a good guy. He made me feel ways that every person should get to feel. It’s the first time, so there’s no jadedness, and you give yourself over completely. We went through every emotion, like a baby snake who can’t control their venom. So I didn’t have crushes. I just loved him so much.
Nicky Katt: You’d be going back to your room, and you’d see one of the cast members coming out of somebody else’s room, when the sun’s coming up.
Burkhart: Milla Jovovich and Shawn Andrews were always stoned and staring into each other’s eyes. They were always making out. Always.
John Swasey: We had an 8:00 a.m. call, and I went down to the lobby at 7:00 a.m., and there’s Shawn and Milla, sitting on a chair, making out. He had his shirt undone and no shoes on, and they were kissing and fondling. And I was like, Who the fuck are these people, and why are they doing this in the lobby?
Tricia Linklater: Oh my god, they were just nuts. We were rehearsing at a hotel, and they were on top of each other on the floor. Not even on a chair! And fully clothed, but some women’s group was having tea, and I’m like, “There are proper ladies here! Get off each other!”
Catherine Avril Morris: They had a long row of individual cast member trailers, and Milla and Shawn were just doin’ it every night. Because all of our trailers were connected, they would all be rocking.
Lisa Bruna: All the minors had to have guardians with them. That was the rule. Milla was 16 at the time, and her mom was always around, but I guess they found ways to sneak off.
Ribisi: Anthony and Parker were also really tight on the film. I think they had a thing.
Posey: We had a little tryst. I adored him. He was bi at the time. Starting out, it’s so much about “What’s your inspiration? What kind of films do you like? What kind of theater do you like?” I was a real nerd in that way, and so was Anthony.
Jason Davids Scott: Parker’s boyfriend was an indie guy who worked for a film production company in New York.
Anthony Rapp: She shared with me some of the difficulties she was having with that relationship. She felt to me like a safe haven, not that I was aware of needing it, but she was somebody that I really connected with, really quickly. Maybe we were able to connect so much because she was outside of that relationship. So, when she was back in it, there wasn’t as much room for me, you know?
Tracey Holman: Ben Affleck really had a thing for one of the production assistants, Valerie. She had a boyfriend, and she kept saying, “No.” He kept coming over and talking to her anyway.
Valerie DeKeyser: There were so many hotties on the set. I was like, why is [Affleck] paying attention to me? He’s got a whole gaggle of women that he can choose from! But he wooed me. He sent letters, jokingly: “To the only woman I could ever love . . .” He would see me and run across the set and pick me up and swing me around. And the funny thing is, I was not sold. And he was like, “I’m really much better looking than this! I gotta be this big football player with bad hair. This isn’t who I am.”
Ben Affleck: Everyone was having sex with each other, except me. I didn’t sleep with anybody the whole time!
T. Linklater: There were all the guys from L.A., and then there are all the extras. And I’m saying, “Do not date the extras! They are underage. And their daddies have shotguns. You have never been to Texas before. Get off the extras!”
Sasha Jenson: I had the biggest crush on Christin, but she was so young. And I was just like, That’s bad.
Christin Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum: Sasha and I had a thing. I was 16 and he was 26, I found out later. Not cool, dude! He told me he was 22.
Jenson: I had lied to everybody in the beginning, to get the job. If I had told the truth, I would’ve lost the job. So this was a conflict for me. What happened between me and Christin was very, very, very limited. We kissed. I don’t even know if I would call it “making out.” I knew it was wrong. But it was still sweet, and I feel like I still am holding my head high.
Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum: He’s a good guy. A gentleman. Nothing too untoward happened.
Deena Martin-DeLucia: Once Sasha found out I had a boyfriend, he pursued me. And I didn’t go for it.
Jenson: In my mind, I was like, I’m playing the kind of guy I never was in high school: the drunk, belligerent womanizer. So I gave myself permission to flirt. All of our relationships were pretty accurate on-screen, and, in theory, Deena was my girlfriend in the movie. I did meet her boyfriend, and we were flirty, but I was flirty with everybody.
Peter Millius: Well, everybody flirted with Deena. She was gorgeous. From time to time I’d ask, “Hey, is there anything for me to worry about here?” and if she said no, I said, “Cool.” She liked to flirt, too, but most of that flirting was innocent.
Affleck: You know Deena, the blonde girl? I’d never seen a woman that looked like that before. She was so sexy and so confident and so empowered. I was deeply impressionable, and totally in awe of all these sexy, awesome people.
Martin-DeLucia: Before Peter got out there, Matthew asked me out on a date. And I turned Matthew down! I wasn’t gonna mention it, because who would turn down Matthew McConaughey? It was at rehearsal, and he was like, “Do you wanna go have lunch?” And I just said, “I have a fiancé, and I don’t know if he would want me to do that.”
Matthew McConaughey: I couldn’t have known she was with Peter at the time. That’s probably another reason Peter and I got along. We’ve got good similar taste in ladies.
Jason London: While everyone else was trying to hook up, Chrisse and I were already taken care of, from the audition. They say love at first sight is BS, but it’s not. We started doing the scene, and she grabbed my hand, and she said, “You have the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen.” And I was just thinking, “Well, trust me, you have beautiful everything.”
Chrisse Harnos: We didn’t have cell phones at the time, and I was so broke, I was living in a friend’s living room and using the pay phone downstairs. So, after the audition, I gave Jason the number of the pay phone, and I was gonna wait there for him to call. And apparently, he had inverted some of the numbers and wasn’t getting to me. When he finally got through, he was like, “I’ve been trying every combination!”
London: Is that true? I thought I remembered going home with her that night, from the audition. I feel like it was immediate. I can’t imagine waiting that long to call her. When we got to the hotel, it was like, not only do I get to play the coolest character in the world, but I’ve got this beautiful girlfriend that I get to sleep with every night.
Scott: Jason and Chrisse were very sweet together. She was a couple of years older than him, and she was from New York, and she was kind of an intellectual.
Michelle Burke Thomas: Chrisse was the smartest person I’d ever met.
Scott: She didn’t seem like the kind of woman who’d like a guy like Jason. She had been a model and she’d traveled around the world. He was living in L.A., but he’d grown up in Texas and Oklahoma, and he wasn’t very worldly. I remember his family coming down to visit him, and his dad was a very Oklahoma person, with a cowboy hat and a drawl. He was just very small-town.
London: I came from a poor family. They called us the “Beverly Hillbillies.” My dad had a pickup with a camper on the back, and we would crawl out of that and go to school. I wore Walmart “Rustlers” instead of Wranglers, and kids made fun of me for my Payless shoes.
Harnos: When Jason and I were together, we were just so ... ughhh. I mean, like, telling people, “We’re so in love!” It was a new feeling. I wish we’d had a little more subtlety. I’m sure we made a lot of people gag, because there were other romances and jealousies going on.
Jenson: Joey and Rory were in love.
Rory Cochrane: I thought Joey was cute. At the pizza party, she was wearing a red country shirt and little cutoff jean shorts. And I was like, if I get this movie, I’m gonna go to Austin and get that.
Joey Lauren Adams: There wasn’t a need to define much between me and Rory. We were in a magical world, and Dazed was such an amazing experience and we were young and we were artists. He would bring cassettes and introduce me to music. We could sit in the hotel room and listen to music for hours. I don’t do that anymore. My husband and I don’t stay up until 4:00 a.m. listening to music, you know?
Harnos: Rory’s different from his character. He’s very refined and delicate. He’s sensitive. He was open with me about his relationship with Joey.
Cochrane: I was 20. She was a few years older, and she had more life experience. I wasn’t that sexually active in high school. I mean, I’d lost my virginity and I’d had a girlfriend, but Joey was more mature than I was. Women are supposed to be more mature than men anyway. She definitely had the upper hand. I was infatuated with her. She probably thought she was just dating a kid.
Adams: I love Rory. He’s such a sweet kid!
London: The girls were seeing certain guys, and Michelle would go out of her way to overtly flirt with them. So that pissed people off.
Thomas: I had a crush on Rory, for sure. I thought Rory was one hot little number. For some reason, I felt that I was totally not his type. He seemed more interested in the Joey Lauren Adams kind of thing. I was a simple small-town girl. I probably still had an Ohio accent. I was not “city” at all, and that’s a turnoff to some people.
London: Michelle didn’t realize she was coming on strong to pretty much every guy the girls liked. It was like, the nerve of this girl! I don’t know that Michelle would remember it that way, though.
Thomas: Oh, I would agree with that. Now, my husband is always like, “Michelle, you can’t call people ‘sweetie.’ You can’t touch them, or grab their hand while you’re talking to them. They think you’re hitting on them.” But that’s just the way I was raised! I’m from the Midwest. That’s the farm girl mentality in me. I can say this: Everybody’s got their type, and most of those guys weren’t my type. Ben wasn’t my type. Jason [London] wasn’t my type. Adam . . . well, Adam was sweet! I feel bad saying he wasn’t my type.
Goldberg: My girlfriend back home was [actress] Clea Lewis. We worked at a bookstore together. There was all this intense sexual energy on Dazed, all these beautiful girls and all these good-looking guys, and I had just started a relationship. There was this feeling of not being able to be there in the same way everyone else was, because most everyone else was single. So if you couldn’t fuck around, then it really felt like, bad. I’m a very faithful guy. But I remember things getting a little too close for comfort, to the point where I was confessing to my shrink about feeling like I was on the verge of straying.
Harnos: We were at a restaurant, having amazing food, and then we were all dancing and definitely something transpired between Michelle and Adam on the dance floor. Adam was looking at me like, What?!
Goldberg: Man, I must’ve been so drunk, because I don’t dance, but I remember dipping Michelle, and her coming up and kissing me.
Thomas: Well, I do like to kiss, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I kissed him! But it was probably just for fun.
Jenson: Michelle was a very flirty person. I was always flirty with Michelle, but she was in love with someone else.
Thomas: I’m laughing about the fact that everybody thought I was flirting with them, because I had my own drama going on. I was still married to my high school sweetheart at the time, but we were definitely on the outs. We had moved to Hollywood not even a year before that, and he wasn’t super excited about moving to Hollywood, and I had been modeling and traveling the world, and then I was doing Dazed and Confused. I was asking him to move his things out, so that when I got back from filming the movie, I would be on my own. The last thing I was thinking about was everybody else’s boyfriends!
Affleck: I had a really intense crush on Michelle. I thought I had a chance! And then, all of a sudden, she hooked up with Cole. And he was my friend!
Thomas: I was falling in love with Cole, but Cole and I were both in other relationships.
Goldberg: It’d be hilarious if you A/B’d my interview with Cole’s interview. I doubt Cole was on the phone with his shrink talking about how guilty he felt about the fact that there was sexual tension between him and Michelle.
Cole Hauser: Oh yeah, Michelle was definitely my chick during the whole time. She had a great smile, which she still has. She’s a wonderful person, and you could see that coming out of her.
Thomas: We became friends during that scene in the movie when Cole whacks me on the butt. I had a bruise this big on my bottom the next day. He’s a strong boy. So even though he was trying not to do it very hard, he had to do it 15 times. I was like, “You bruised me!” And he was like, “I’m sorry!” And then we started hanging out. The first time that I really felt butterflies was when we were in his hotel room listening to Jimi Hendrix really loud, closing our eyes. I had never heard Jimi Hendrix that way before.
London: Michelle was so blatant in that flirtation. Cole said something like, “She called me to her room, and when I went in there, she was taking a shower.” He walks in and she’s like, “Hi! Oh, sorry, I’m in the shower. Just sit on the bed.” And he’s like, “Yep!”
Deb Pastor: I’m sure a lot of people were talking about Rick [Linklater]’s personal life, too.
Katy Jelski: One of the women Rick was seeing during Dazed was the woman who’s now his partner.
Richard Linklater: Tina and I had been hanging out a little bit in the spring before the movie started, but I didn’t want to be anyone’s boyfriend, so I just said, “I’ll see you in September.” When I was making films back then, it was such an intense process that I would get all monk-like in redirecting all my life energy solely into the film, like there would be no other needs or desires. There had always been that thing in athletics, like, “Should athletes be having sex before games?” Remember Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull? He won’t have sex before a match. He’s dumping cold water on his crotch. I took that to heart. When I was in my early 20s, working offshore, I was celibate for almost two years, because I was like, I need to read, I need to write, there are so many movies to see, I’m not going to spend any time chasing that. You can actually turn that off and on. So for Dazed, it was like, No, I’m off the market. But then, there was always that one day off a week, where I could maybe get a beer and spend some quality time with Kahane.
Wiggins: I think Rick was also dating Kahane while he was making Dazed, which is probably a none-of-my-business situation.
Melanie Fletcher: Kahane is the pregnant lady buying vodka and cigarettes in the movie. She had a little cameo in Dazed.
R. Linklater: Kahane and I had met at Sundance, two years before Dazed.
Kahane Cooperman: Rick was there for Slacker, and the film that I made was Cool Water. It was a “young-ice-sculptors-in-love” story. They carved Jimmy Page out of ice because they loved Led Zeppelin. Ultimately, I saw a little metaphor in this young love of this couple, and the fact that they put so much into these 300-pound blocks of ice with their chainsaws, only to have it melt away.
R. Linklater: Kahane and I dated for some time. I really liked her. But it was a long-distance thing—she lived in New York—and it was not in the best spot when I started on Dazed. I was making a movie. I didn’t want to be dating anybody. But she was cool. I think she understood that.
Cooperman: We were young and our relationship was definitely complex but full of intensity and adventure. I was game for that at that point in my life.
Jelski: Obviously, Kahane is an ambitious, talented person, and she wanted to make a documentary about Dazed.
Cooperman: Every instinct of my filmmaker self was telling me there was a compelling story here. And it turned out, my instincts were right, and I’m so glad to have captured this seminal experience of making this now-classic film at such an interesting time in the trajectory of Rick’s career, the earliest experiences of some superstars-to-be, and of a real moment when indie met studio film.
Affleck: I remember Rick being kind of frustrated with her being there, but he was also like, “Well, I agreed to let her do this.”
R. Linklater: I didn’t bring Kahane out to make the documentary. I didn’t want her to do it. She wanted to do it. She was like, “Oh, I can stay at Deb’s.”
Cooperman: One of my best friends from high school, Deb Lewis, was living in Austin. She was a cinematographer. We worked on the documentary together.
R. Linklater: It just seemed like an extra level of pressure, and I was under enough pressure.
Jelski: Kahane kind of got fucked over, because she came down, and Rick had all these other girlfriends. He would shoot these incredibly long days, and then go rewrite stuff, and then hang out with all these different women. I don’t know when he slept!
R. Linklater: What the fuck is she talking about? I wasn’t with anyone that whole summer except Kahane, and that was in a “not enough to be a very good boyfriend” way. How would Katy, the script supervisor, know anything about what I was doing later at night after dailies, which was simply planning the next day’s shoot, with barely time to do that? The gossip she’s describing might apply to other, less strenuous times in my life back then, but definitely not anywhere near the making of the film.
My personal life was not very orderly, put it that way. But I wasn’t interested in a relationship. There was just that full-on, crazy commitment to Dazed. It was like a relationship where you’re too much in love. And that’s going to burn itself out.
Melissa Maerz has worked as an editor at Spin and Rolling Stone, a staff writer for Entertainment Weekly and The Los Angeles Times, and a supervising producer on HBO’s Vice News Tonight. She was a founding editor at New York magazine’s Vulture website. She lives in Portland, Oregon.