Linklater "Dazed" by Lawsuit

Three former classmates sue director and studio for allegedly trashing reps in slacker classic

By Josh Grossberg Oct 11, 2004 8:50 PMTags

They keep getting older, but apparently their reps stay the same.

Three former high school classmates of Richard Linklater are suing the filmmaker and Universal Pictures, claiming the trio has suffered constant humiliation after their last names were used for characters in Linklater's 1993 cult classic Dazed and Confused.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on behalf of Richard Floyd, Bobby Wooderson and Andy Slater, alleges the filmmaker failed to get the men's consent when he wrote the Dazed screenplay and supposedly used the men's names and likenesses for some party-hardy slackers.

"He did not get their permission to use their names or anything," says Ernest Freeman, a Houston-based attorney representing the three men. "It has imposed a substantial invasion in their personal lives. They're essentially celebrities against their own will."

The trio--all of whom still reside in Huntsville, Texas, where they went to school with the filmmaker--decided to file the civil suit following the 2002 DVD release of the comedy.

Linklater, whose most recent credits include 2003's hit comedy School of Rock and this summer's Before Sunset, could not be reached for comment.

Calls to Universal Pictures were also not returned.

An homage to George Lucas' American Graffiti, Dazed and Confused followed the spaced-out adventures of a group of high school seniors and incoming freshman on the last day of school in May 1976.

While the film failed to light up the box office upon its release, it has gone on to achieve cult status with its hilarious portrayal of the days when low-riders ruled the roads and high school hazing, all-night keggers, wanton sex and getting high were rites of passage in small-town Texas.

As new audiences discovered Dazed and Confused over the years, the three men say they increasingly found themselves being ID'd by fans who would not only ask for autographs, but also assume--wrongly, the men insist--the fictional counterparts were based on them.

As a result, the suit states, the trio became objects of derision, subjected to "relentless harassment, embarrassment and ridicule" due to the negative traits associated with those characters.

Ironically, the Dazed characters sharing the men's surnames and supposed likeness are among the movie's most popular slackers.

Richard Floyd, an employee at a Huntsville car dealership, became associated with the film's Randall "Pink" Floyd, the school's star quarterback played by Jason London who refused to sign a pledge to stay drug-free during football season. The Floyd character was essentially the movie's hero.

Bobby Wooderson's surname supposedly inspired the character of David Wooderson, Matthew McConaughey's star-making role as a pothead who hung around long after graduation and had a hankering for high school chicks ("That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age"). The real Wooderson now works in the technology field.

Slater, who currently runs a construction company, says he became Ron Slater, the clueless stoner played by Rory Cochran who lived in a perpetually drugged-out haze ("George Washington was in a cult and the cult was into aliens, man!")

While the movie characters may be funny, Freeman says that such associations have ended up casting his clients in an "unfavorable light" by leaving people with false impressions, such as believing the real Slater is a drug user.

"I think anybody that's famous will tell you that there's things that come attached to celebrity," says Freeman. "You essentially give over your private life to public."

The attorney adds that the men decided to go ahead and file their suit following the DVD release because they "had hoped through the years that the movie would fade in popularity," but "that hadn't happened."

Freeman says the civil suit was filed in New Mexico for a variety of reasons but mainly because it has a long statute of limitations favoring defamation claims and is ideal to find potential jurors should the case go to trial.