Before they were superstars, Cole Hauser and Matthew McConaughey were struggling actors just trying to make it in show business. The Yellowstone actor and A-List star were part of one of the greatest “hang out” movies of all time: Richard Linklater’s beloved masterpiece Dazed and Confused.
The movie takes place over the course of one day — the last day of school in 1976. Hauser, with his bright and curly red hair, plays Benny. He’s almost unrecognizable from the bearded and brawny Rip Wheeler character he plays on Yellowstone. But he’s still ruthless as in the film in his attempt to spank rising freshmen with a handmade wooden paddle, a right of initiation for all incoming “fresh meat.”
McConaughey plays, well, McConaughey. His character is the laid-back, ultra-cool David Wooderson. Wooderson graduated a few years ahead of the seniors and is an idol to them, despite his bleak prospects “working for the city.” But none of that matters right now. This is only about one day and living in the moments. The future can wait.
Ironically, McConaughey, the breakout star from the film, only had a few scripted lines. He ad-libbed his famous “alright, alright, alright” and several other memorable moments in the film.
McConaughey Became Cast’s Tour Guide in Austin
Linklater shot the film in Austin, Texas, which was where the Greenlights author went to college. So, he knew all the cool bars and fun hideaway spots.
Hauser remembers one night when McConaughey rescued them from the boredom of their hotel rooms to show them “heaven on earth.”
“‘C’mon guys, get out of your hotel room, let me take you down to the river’… It’s muggy and nasty in Austin during the summer, so to have a cool spring with a beer in your hand and beautiful girls cruising by? It was heaven on earth,” Hauser told Vulture in 2020. Linklater told Hauser that the shoot would be like summer camp, and it was. There were constant parties and pranks off set, and McConaughey and Hauser always found themselves in the center of it.
After the movie finished shooting, Cole Hauser, McConaughy, and Rory Cochrane, another Dazed and Confused alumn took a trip across Europe. Matthew still has a Heineken coaster he collected in Amsterdam in a ziplock bag, he told Austin Monthly, along with other mementos from the trip.
McConaughey moved to Los Angeles for years as his star rose higher and higher, but he’s since gone back to live in Austin. He may be considering a run for Texas governor. But he said whenever he’s in Los Angeles, there is something that is very important.
Having a drink with Hauser and Cochrane is a priority anytime he returns to the coast.
Dazed and Confused launched a lot of very famous careers. Ben Affleck, Renee Zellweger, Jason London, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams, Anthony Rapp, and Adam Goldberg, just to name a few.