Wiley Wiggins in Dazed and Confused
Film POP is holding its annual Bike-In fundraiser this month, an event that includes DJs, a BBQ and, most importantly, a 20th-anniversary screening of Richard Linklater’s cult classic Dazed and Confused. (Yes, it’s been 20 years.)
For anyone who has somehow deprived themselves of this piece of ’90s gold, the film follows the adventures of high school and junior high students on their final day of classes in 1976. The graduating junior high students are initiated into high school, and everyone ends up at a massive bush party. The film also stars one of the best ensemble casts of the ‘90s, including Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Matthew McConaughey and Wiley Wiggins as the iconic Mitch Kramer.
Wiggins was relatively unknown when he was cast in the film, getting the opportunity to audition by being in the right place at the right time. “Most of the lead parts were cast by Don Phillips, who famously cast Fast Times at Ridgemont High, “ says Wiggins. “Co-producer Anne Walker McBay did a lot of local casting in Austin, mainly for smaller roles. She was passing out cards to kids near the University of Texas campus when we met outside my favourite coffee shop. I was incredibly lucky that they were willing to take a chance on me, considering I was not a professional actor.”
The film received favourable reviews when it came out in 1993, but it wasn’t until it was released on home video that it reached its current cult status. Even Quentin Tarantino listed it as one of the 10 greatest films of all time in Sight & Sound magazine in 2002. “Slacker was very popular in Austin, and we all hoped that it might reach the same popularity. None of us had any idea of the longevity that it would have once it reached home video,” says Wiggins.
“I think it was unusually candid and honest for a movie aimed at young people at the time. We were under a lot of pressure to tone down the language and drug use from the production company, and at many times they felt like the music budget was too expensive and that corners ought to be cut with new studio musicians rather than using actual period music. It was their job to try to connect the movie to an audience and keep it under budget, but I think that the director was proved right in the long run. I’m incredibly glad that the movie didn’t end up as glossy and sanitized and inauthentic as many other movies being made at the time.”
Wiggins worked with Linklater again on 2001’s Waking Life, not only appearing in the film but also helping to animate it. Although he continues to dabble in film, most recently acting in Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess, he’s also devoted to video games and is the creative director for Fantastic Arcade and Karakasa Games. “My first love is interactive art and video games. I’m working on developing my first game for the iPad now, called Thunderbeam. There’s no release date yet, but I should be able to show some of it off before the end of the year.” ■
Film POP’s annual Bike-In fundraiser with a 20th anniversary screening of Dazed and Confused, with Wiley Wiggins in attendance, takes place at Terrasse St-Ambroise (5080 St-Ambroise) on Saturday, Aug. 17, DJs & BBQ at 4:30 p.m., screening + Q&A at 9 p.m., free
You can also visit wileywiggins.com to keep tabs on his various projects