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Arts and Entertainment

Matthew McConaughey Is More Charming Than Creepy In His 'Dazed And Confused' Audition

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In his audition tape for "Dazed And Confused," Matthew McConaughey has all of the charm but the creeper edge that would define his breakout role as Wooderson was still in its embryonic stage.

McConaughey would go on to play a high school graduate still reliving his glory years with younger classes, but in his audition tape he has a toothy smile, 90s blonde surf god hair and he didn't look like he'd ever have trouble with the ladies at UT. Director Richard Linklater said that he was worried McConaughey was too handsome for the role but McConaughey reassured him: "Matthew said, 'I ain’t this guy, but I know this guy.'"

McConaughey grew out his hair and a stache, and in his final Wooderson performance, he nailed that guy. This audition tape comes to us courtesy of the Criterion Collection DVD of "Dazed And Confused," which features some extras including McConaughey's audition. (The video was just put on YouTube yesterday.)

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Texas Monthly spoke with casting legend Don Phillips, Linklater and McConaughey, who described how he ended up in the role:

Phillips: I went to Austin to cement the cast with Rick, who put me up for the weekend at the Hyatt. Usually I took all the perks I could, which meant staying at the Four Seasons, but it was graduation weekend at UT and I couldn’t get in. So it’s the end of the day, and I’m up in the bar having a couple drinks to unwind, and I see this really good-looking girl at the end of the bar with this pretty cool-looking guy. Matthew McConaughey(“Wooderson”): It was, like, a Thursday night that summer, man, and I wanted to stay in and watch some flick, but my girlfriend talked me into going out to have some drinks. There was this bartender I knew from film school who worked at the Hyatt and would give us a discount, so we went there. And when we walk in, he’s there, and he goes, “Hey, man, the guy down at the end of the bar is in town producing a film.” So I went down and introduced myself. That was Don.

Phillips: Next thing I know, I’m having a drink with this kid and talking about golf. I think I remember him saying briefly that he was studying to be a director.

McConaughey: Gets to be four hours later, and my girlfriend is gone, man, and Don and I are pretty lubricated. We’re talking about life and women and some great golf hole he’s played, and I guess we got a little rambunctious.

Phillips: And a little loud, because some big-muscled, red-shirted, UT-football-player bouncer guy escorts us out of the bar. So Matthew and I went to my room and he said, “How dare they throw us out of the bar, Don. Don’t they know who you are?” And I said, “No, and they don’t give a damn either.” So he said, “You know what I’m doing? I’m calling a manager.” And he does. And he demands an apology. Wow. So after all that, I ask him if he’s ever acted before. “Naw,” he says in that Texas drawl of his. “I’ve been in a beer commercial and a music video.” And I said, “Look, I’m in town casting a movie with Rick Linklater. We have this character, Wooderson, who’s a little bit older than the high school kids. He’s only got a couple lines, so it’s too expensive to bring anybody in from Los Angeles. Why don’t you come to my office and pick up the script? Maybe we’ll put you on tape to see what you look like.”

Linklater: I thought he was too good-looking. Matthew looked like he’d do fine with college girls; but I needed Wooderson to be a little creepier. But Matthew just sunk into character. His eyes shut to little quarter slots, and he said, “Hey, man, you got a joint?” He just became that guy. I thought, “Okay, don’t cut your hair. Can you grow a beard and a mustache?”

McConaughey: Man, they told me to dirty down. They said that once we got started, I’d get $300 a day. That’s a lot more than I made waiting tables on Thursday nights at the Catfish Station.

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