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When Dazed And Confused star Wiley Wiggins announced that he’d be joining in on a live-tweet of Richard Linklater’s seminal, coming-of-age film—all the while drinking himself into a sub-Wooderson stupor—The A.V. Club had to ask Wiggins a few questions about it. And not just, “Why?,” but deeper, more penetrating queries like, “Really?” Once those were out of the way, Wiggins—who currently works in the tech industry (if you’ve ever logged into an AT&T wireless network with an iPhone, you’ve seen the fruits of his labor) and does film work and indie game development on the side—agreed to meet at Spider House to talk about the thrill of live-tweeting, Dazed And Confused’s bizarrely broad appeal, and disappointing Internet stalkers with his non-cracked-out existence.
The A.V. Club: Thanks for taking the time to talk about something so stupid.
WW: Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I really liked Norm MacDonald’s Oscar live-tweets. And when I saw—I had some narcissistic Google alert that told me somebody was talking about me. Which I shouldn’t admit to.
AVC: Everyone has self-Google alerts.
WW: I turn them off when I’m feeling fragile—but if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll turn them back on. I don’t know anything about the company that was initiating [the live-tweet]. So I don’t even know if I want to use their hashtag or not. The time-based tweeting is cool, and it’s interesting, and it’s great to be able to make fun of a live event. But I think it would be interesting to make fun of yourself in the same kind of context. And, at the same time, I never got to do a commentary track for Dazed, so I’ve got interesting stuff to talk about.
AVC: And it’ll be preserved for the whole Internet.
WW: Yes. And me getting progressively more and more drunk. That’ll be great.
AVC: Have you figured out how you’re going to play the Dazed And Confused drinking game?
WW: I’ve been hearing about it for years, people cursing my name for their alcohol poisoning. So I looked up the rules, and it seems pretty much unplayable. I’m 34. I can’t drink like a 16-year-old anymore—I’ll die. To satisfy everybody, I’m just gonna do the shots for nose-touching, hair-flipping, and just, you know—maybe that’ll finally put that whole thing to bed.
AVC: I’ve watched the movie dozens of time, and I’ve never noticed the nose-touching thing.
WW: It’s a weird, “flattening of time” effect. Nobody really said much for about 10 years. I think that the kind of people that watch the movie over and over again—which has already mystified me... I like the movie, but if I was getting high, I’d watch Fantastic Planet or 2001 or something. I wouldn’t watch a depressing movie about Huntsville teens driving around in circles in a car. I don’t have any problem with it. I don’t feel like I did it in any other movies, really. And I was 15. It’s that those people, they’ve seen it so many times that that’s kind of like the fly in the ointment thing that drives them crazy. On the Criterion commentary, [Linklater] totally takes responsibility for it, and says that he thought it was great and he had it edited that way so I’m being super flinchy. But I think he’s being generous. I think I was really just like that.
AVC: It contributes to the naturalness of the performance, though.
WW: That’s what I thought, but the thing is, like, the kind of movies that you and I are maybe used to seeing performances like that in—I mean Dazed appeals to a broader audience than just us. And those people are totally not used to that kind of shit. You try to show them like one of Andrew [Bujalski]’s movies, they poop in their hands and throw it at you.
AVC: As per your tweets from earlier this week, the last time you saw Dazed And Confused was 2003.
WW: Yeah, the Drafthouse hosted a 10-year reunion. And that would’ve been the best experience I’ve had seeing it. I feel like when I was a kid, I had a really hard time watching it just from seeing myself. But now its just so totally detached and that has nothing to do with me at all. I don’t look like that kid. I don’t smell like that kid. So when I saw it in 2003, I actually I think I enjoyed it the first time. I felt like one of the people in the audience. And the audience was jazzed to see it.
AVC: Was that the Moon Tower screening?
WW: Yeah—well no, the Moon Tower screening was some other thing they did. The Red Bull tower thing, that was a later thing. Which I showed up at afterward because they had me do some goofy thing, but I didn’t actually show up to watch it. That was the wrong crowd. I didn’t want to deal.
AVC: That doesn’t sound like a movie-watching crowd.
WW: Oh, the Red Bull/vodka crowd is not exactly cineastes. So yeah, I’m thinking if I do this, I’m ready to be totally done with ever talking about this movie ever again. And I may even just change my name... to Ted Danson or something.
AVC: Then you’ve got to talk about Cheers for the rest of your life.
WW: But that’ll be fresh baggage to lug around. I’m ready to deal with somebody else’s baggage. I’m sick of mine.
AVC: Since you’re so removed from it, is it really baggage at this point?
WW: I do a bunch of other stuff, and this is this visible thing that people always associated with me, which was fine for like the first 10 years. And after 20, it’s kind of starting to be a drag. Not with everybody, but just with the frat-boy element, which I’ve never understood the attraction of this movie to.
AVC: It’s Matthew McConaughey’s character.
WW: Yes, but it’s such a dark kind of—I don’t know. It seems like an indictment of that character. That was his best performance ever, too. And he just immediately went from that to like “handsome stud dude.” How the hell did that happen? And he’s so unconvincing as a romantic lead, but people eat it up.
I have a good story about him. The last time I saw him—I guess I saw him at the reunion—but the first time I had seen him before that, I hadn’t seen him in like 12 years. I don’t spend a lot of time in L.A., but I was in L.A., and I was with some people, and he just sort of randomly walked by wearing—I don’t think they were jams exactly—but like swim trunks, a wife beater, highway patrolmen sunglasses, and a Bluetooth headset. I hadn’t seen the guy in 12 years or so, and he, without stopping, turns to me and goes, in his Matthew McConaughey drawl, “Wiiiilayy Wiggins,” and he just fucking turned back on his course and keeps it going. I think people like that should not be made to act. They should just be themselves in everything. He could just be that guy in every movie. He’d be like Christopher Walken. Not to say Christopher Walken can’t act, but at this point, you should just cast him as Christopher Walken.
AVC: Have you been in contact with anybody else from the cast about the tweeting thing?
WW: No. That would be too embarrassing. I think I’m the only person who has enough free time on their hands to do something this stupid.
I talk to Rick pretty frequently. I don’t really talk to anybody else in the cast that often. I used to work at Apple doing Final Cut Pro support, and I took a support call from Jason London once—which was really humiliating. He’s like, “You’re a Mac Genius now?” and I’m like, “No, I’m a Proapps support specialist, Jason. It’s very different. I don’t have to wear a uniform.”
AVC: Is Current going to be able to show a less-edited version than what would’ve aired on G4?
WW: I think they are. The only thing that makes me say that is I went to their website to find out when it was, and they had clips from the movie on. And they were all like “the Martha Washington was a stoner” scene. I think they might be airing it unedited, which would be good. That might mean that people don’t have to have that DVD, which would be good. Although everybody should get that. The Criterion DVD is actually good. We waited many, many years for that kind of a treatment for that movie, and it was very satisfying when it finally came after the horrible, Universal “Totally awesome beer pong party” edition. They did the double pack with Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and there actually was a loose association because we had the same casting director. But it was a totally crass, callow marketing gimmick with an even shittier box cover than the shitty poster we had. I can’t tell you how hard it was to deal with the awful branding that Gramercy gave that.
AVC: And stuff like this live-tweet are ways you can reclaim the work after that.
WW: I think so. I think being able to open up a channel where you can add layers of metadata onto an already established work is a really cool thing. I really like Twitter. I mean, people are really down on it just because it’s really popular. But I think it’s vastly superior to shit like Facebook—the fact that somebody can blather on or whatever and I don’t have to follow them, whereas on Facebook, somebody from junior high adds me and if I don’t add them, I hurt their feelings and I’m an asshole.
AVC: And you actually use Twitter well. You’ve got stuff to say, and it’s usually pretty funny.
WW: Yeah, I was an early adopter. I digress a lot. I go through these cycles of gaining and losing followers. And I’m also super rigorous about killing spam bots, which I think I’m starting to regret because you look at like, you know—Ass Napkin Ed from The Howard Stern Show has like 15 million followers, and I think I’ve got like 2,000. [The actual tally on the day this was written: @assnapkined: 1,123; @wileywiggins: 2,641—Ed.] So maybe I should stop pruning them. But yeah, I’ll go through cycles where I’ll lose a bunch of followers because I’ll start talking about techy shit. And you know, there’s a small section of the people that are following that I might actually know from conferences or something that are okay with that. But you know, the vast majority of them are just like, “Hey, it’s that kid from Dazed And Confused. Let’s see if he’s cracked out yet.” And I disappoint in that regard, I think.
The Cinemit Dazed And Confused tweet-along begins tonight at 6 p.m. Follow Wiggins on Twitter to find out if he’ll be watching the Current broadcast, or watching along on DVD.