Richard Linklater
Linklater in 2022
Richard Stuart Linklater

(1960-07-30) July 30, 1960 (age 63)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Occupation(s)Director, producer, writer
Years active1985–present[1]
Notable workBoyhood, Dazed and Confused, Before trilogy, School of Rock, Waking Life, Slacker
SpouseChristina Harrison
Children3, including Lorelei

Richard Stuart Linklater (/ˈlɪŋkltər/; born July 30, 1960)[2] is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is known for making films that deal thematically with suburban culture and the effects of the passage of time. His films include the comedies Slacker (1990) and Dazed and Confused (1993); the Before trilogy of romance films: Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013); the music-themed comedy School of Rock (2003); the adult animated films Waking Life (2001), A Scanner Darkly (2006), and Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood (2022); the coming-of-age drama Boyhood (2014); the comedy film Everybody Wants Some!! (2016); and the romantic comedy Hit Man (2023).

Many of Linklater's films are noted for their loosely structured narratives. The Before trilogy and Boyhood both feature the same actors filmed over an extended period of years. He has received several Academy Award nominations and won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival for his work on Before Sunrise. He also won a Golden Globe Award for directing Boyhood. In 2015, Linklater was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.[3]

Early life

Linklater was born in Houston, Texas, the son of Diane Margaret (née Krieger), a career educator who taught both high school and college classes at various points in her life, and Charles W. Linklater III, a home insurance underwriter.[4][5] He attended Huntsville High School in Huntsville, Texas, during grades 9–11, where he played football for Joe Clements as a backup quarterback for the #1 ranked team in the state. For his senior year, he moved to Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas, because he was better at baseball than football and Bellaire had a better baseball coach. He had always been interested in reading and writing, and as a teen he won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.[6][7]

Linklater originally attended Sam Houston State University, where his mother was a professor, on a full-ride baseball scholarship.[8] Although he enjoyed Sam Houston State, Linklater admitted to feeling "directionless" at that time in life and, after being diagnosed with a career-ending heart condition as a sophomore, he dropped out of college to work on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.[9] Richard made friends with a coworker who would screen old movies on a projector at night, which quickly became his favorite way to pass the time on the oil rig and made him develop a passion for cinema. Upon returning to land, Linklater wanted to continue watching old films and, after repeated visits at a repertory cinema in Houston where he would spend "up to twelve hours a day", he realized he wanted to become a filmmaker.[10] He used his savings to buy a Super-8 camera, a projector, and editing equipment, and moved to Austin, Texas.[citation needed]


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1985–2000: Early directing

Linklater founded the Austin Film Society in 1985 with his college professor Chale Nafus, University of Texas professor Charles Ramirez-Berg, SXSW founder Louis Black, and his frequent collaborator Lee Daniel. One of the mentors for the Film Society was former New York City critic for the SoHo Weekly News George Morris, who had relocated to Austin and taught film there.

For several years, Linklater made many short films that were exercises and experiments in film techniques. He finally completed his first feature, It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (which is available in The Criterion Collection edition of his second feature, Slacker), a Super-8 feature that took a year to shoot and another year to edit.

Linklater created Detour Filmproduction (an homage to the 1945 low budget film noir by Edgar G. Ulmer), and subsequently made Slacker for only $23,000. It went on to gross more than $1.25 million. The film shows an aimless day in the life of the city of Austin, Texas showcasing its more eccentric characters.

While gaining a cult following in the independent film world, he made his third film, Dazed and Confused, based on his years at Huntsville High School and the people he encountered there. The film garnered critical praise and grossed $8 million in the United States while becoming a hit on VHS. This film was also responsible for the breakout of fellow Texas native Matthew McConaughey.

In 1995, Linklater won the Silver Bear for Best Director for the film Before Sunrise at the 45th Berlin International Film Festival.[11] His next feature, subUrbia, had mixed reviews critically, and did very poorly at the box office. In 1998, he took on his first Hollywood feature, The Newton Boys, which received mixed reviews while tanking at the box office.

2001–2013: Wider recognition

With the rotoscope films Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, and his mainstream comedies, School of Rock and the remake of Bad News Bears, he gained wider recognition.

In 2003, he wrote and directed a pilot for HBO with Rodney Rothman called $5.15/hr, about several minimum wage restaurant workers. The pilot deals with themes later examined in Fast Food Nation.

The British television network Channel 4 produced a documentary about Linklater, in which the filmmaker discussed the personal and philosophical ideas behind his films. St Richard of Austin was presented by Ben Lewis and directed by Irshad Ashraf and broadcast on Channel 4 in December 2004 in the UK.

Linklater was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film Before Sunset.

Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly both used rotoscoping animation techniques. Working with Bob Sabiston and Sabiston's program Rotoshop to create this effect, Linklater shot and edited both movies completely as live-action features, then employed a team of artists to "trace over" individual frames. The result is a distinctive "semi-real" quality, praised by such critics as Roger Ebert (in the case of Waking Life) as being original and well-suited to the aims of the film.

Fast Food Nation (2006) is an adaptation of the best selling book that examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry. The film was entered into the 2006 Cannes Film Festival[12] before being released in North America on November 17, 2006, and in Europe on March 23, 2007. The film received mixed reviews.

Linklater fared better with the critics with A Scanner Darkly (released in the same year), Me and Orson Welles (2009), and Bernie (2011).[13]

He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Midnight, the third film in the Before... trilogy.[14]

2014–present: Boyhood and other works

In 2014 he released the film Boyhood, which had been 12 years in the making.[15] Boyhood received overwhelming critical acclaim. Linklater won the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice Movie Awards, and BAFTAs for Best Director and Best Picture. He also received his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director, along with nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.

For a while Linklater was attached to direct a remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet for Warner Bros.[16] However, he dropped the project in favor of working on a spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, titled Everybody Wants Some!!,[16] with backing from Annapurna Pictures and Paramount distributing the film in North America.[17] The film was released in March 2016 and was well received by critics, but it failed to recoup its budget of 10 million dollars, grossing only 4.6 million.[18][19]

In the second half of the 2010s, Linklater wrote and directed the drama film Last Flag Flying, starring Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, and Steve Carell. A sequel to Hal Ashby's 1973 film The Last Detail, it began filming in November 2016, and was released on November 3, 2017.[20] Linklater then directed Where'd You Go, Bernadette, based on the novel by Maria Semple and produced by Annapurna Pictures.[21]

Linklater was attached to direct an adaptation of Graeme Simsion's novel The Rosie Project that would have starred Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role, but he dropped out of directing when Lawrence dropped out of the project.[22]

In 2019, it was announced that Linklater would be filming an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical Merrily We Roll Along. Like Boyhood, it will be filmed over the course of several years, but, like the musical and the play it is based on, will be presented in reverse chronology.[23]

In 2024, Linklater directed an episode of God Save Texas for HBO, focusing on the prison industrial complex in Huntsville, Texas.[24]

Directorial style

Inspiration for Linklater's work was largely based on his experience viewing the film Raging Bull.[25][26]

It made me see movies as a potential outlet for what I was thinking about and hoping to express. At that point I was an unformed artist. At that moment, something was simmering in me, but Raging Bull brought it to a boil.[27]

He was also influenced by Robert Bresson, Yasujirō Ozu, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Eric Rohmer, François Truffaut, Josef Von Sternberg, and Carl Theodor Dreyer.[28][29]

Many of Linklater's films, including Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Tape, and all three installments of the Before Trilogy, take place in a single day. They are less plot driven and more about human interactions.[30]

Personal life

Linklater lives in Austin, Texas, and refuses to live or work in Hollywood for any extended period of time.

Linklater has been partnered with Christina Harrison since the 1990s.[31] In 1994 they had a daughter, and twin girls in 2004. The oldest, Lorelei Linklater, co-starred in Boyhood as the sister of the main character.

Linklater has been a vegetarian since his early 20s.[32] In 2015, he explained the dietary lifestyle in a Boyhood-style documentary for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.[33]


Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1990 Slacker Yes Yes Yes Also stars in it
1993 Dazed and Confused Yes Yes Yes
1995 Before Sunrise Yes Yes No Co-written with Kim Krizan
1996 SubUrbia Yes No No
1998 The Newton Boys Yes Yes No Co-written with Claude Stanush and Clark Lee Walker
2001 Waking Life Yes Yes No Also cinematographer
Tape Yes No No
2003 School of Rock Yes No No
2004 Before Sunset Yes Yes No Co-screenplay writer with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
Co-story writer with Kim Krizan
2005 Bad News Bears Yes No Yes
2006 A Scanner Darkly Yes Yes No
Fast Food Nation Yes Yes No Co-written with Eric Schlosser
2008 Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach Yes No No Documentary film
Me and Orson Welles Yes No Yes
2011 Bernie Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Skip Hollandsworth
2013 Before Midnight Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy
2014 Boyhood Yes Yes Yes
2016 Everybody Wants Some!! Yes Yes Yes
2017 Last Flag Flying Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Darryl Ponicsan
2019 Where'd You Go, Bernadette Yes Yes No Co-written with Holly Gent and Vince Palmo
2022 Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood Yes Yes Yes
2023 Hit Man Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Glen Powell
2025 Nouvelle Vague Yes Yes No Post-Production
TBA Blue Moon Yes No Yes Filming
Merrily We Roll Along Yes Yes Yes Filming. Principal photography will continue for the next 17 years.

Acting roles

Year Title Role Notes
1988 It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books Unnamed character Independent film which wasn't given a wide release.
1990 Slacker "Should Have Stayed at the Bus Station"
1995 The Underneath Ember Doorman
1995 Before Sunrise Foosball player
1996 Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Tour Bus Driver Voice role
1998 Scotch and Milk Cab Passenger
2001 Spy Kids Cool Spy
Chelsea Walls Crony #2
Waking Life Pinball Playing Man / Man on Back of Boat
2006 The Hottest State John Wayne Enthusiast
2008 RSO (Registered Sex Offender) Principal Mallard
2018 Blaze Oilman #3
2019 Another Day at the Office Rick

Short films

Year Title Director Writer Producer
1985 Woodshock Yes No No
2003 Live from Shiva's Dance Floor Yes No No
2019 Another Day at the Office Yes Yes Yes


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
2004 $5.15/Hr. Yes Yes Yes TV pilot
2012 Up to Speed Yes Yes Yes
2016–2018 School of Rock[34] No No Executive
2020 That Animal Rescue Show No No Executive
2024 God Save Texas Yes No Executive Episode: "Hometown Prison"

Other works

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1988 It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books Yes Yes Yes Experimental independent film that was not given a wide release yet was included in the DVD of Slacker
Also actor, cinematographer and editor
1991 Heads I Win/Tails You Lose Yes Yes Yes Experimental video project
2015 I Dream Too Much No No Executive


Critical reception

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Slacker 85%[35] 69[36]
Dazed and Confused 94%[37] 78[38]
Before Sunrise 100%[39] 77[40]
SubUrbia 64%[41] 62[42]
The Newton Boys 62%[43] 57[44]
Waking Life 80%[45] 82[46]
Tape 78%[47] 71[48]
School of Rock 92%[49] 82[50]
Before Sunset 95%[51] 90[52]
Bad News Bears 48%[53] 65[54]
A Scanner Darkly 69%[55] 73[56]
Fast Food Nation 50%[57] 64[58]
Me and Orson Welles 85%[59] 73[60]
Bernie 90%[61] 75[62]
Before Midnight 98%[63] 94[64]
Boyhood 97%[65] 100[66]
Everybody Wants Some!! 88%[67] 83[68]
Last Flag Flying 73%[69] 65[70]
Where'd You Go, Bernadette 48%[71] 51[72]
Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood 91%[73] 79[74]
Hit Man 97%[75] 82[76]
Average 81% 75

Box office

Film Release date Revenue Budget Ref.
United States Outside US Worldwide
Slacker July 27, 1990 (1990-07-27) $1,228,208 $1,228,208 $23,000 [77]
Dazed and Confused September 24, 1993 (1993-09-24) $7,993,039 $7,993,039 $6,900,000 [78]
Before Sunrise January 27, 1995 (1995-01-27) $5,535,405 $5,535,405 $2,500,000 [79]
SubUrbia February 7, 1997 (1997-02-07) $656,747 $656,747 [80]
The Newton Boys March 27, 1998 (1998-03-27) $10,452,012 $10,452,012 $27,000,000 [81]
Waking Life October 19, 2001 (2001-10-19) $2,901,447 $275,433 $3,176,880 [82]
Tape November 2, 2001 (2001-11-02) $490,475 $25,425 $515,900 $100,000 [83]
School of Rock October 3, 2003 (2003-10-03) $81,261,177 $50,021,772 $131,282,949 $35,000,000 [84]
Before Sunset July 2, 2004 (2004-07-02) $5,820,649 $10,171,966 $15,992,615 $2,700,000 [85]
Bad News Bears July 22, 2005 (2005-07-22) $32,868,349 $1,384,498 $34,252,847 $35,000,000 [86]
A Scanner Darkly July 7, 2006 (2006-07-07) $5,501,616 $2,158,302 $7,659,918 $8,700,000 [87][88]
Fast Food Nation November 17, 2006 (2006-11-17) $1,005,539 $1,203,783 $2,209,322 [89]
Me and Orson Welles November 25, 2009 (2009-11-25) $1,190,003 $1,146,169 $2,336,172 $25,000,000 [90]
Bernie April 27, 2012 (2012-04-27) $9,206,470 $884,171 $10,090,641 $6,000,000 [91]
Before Midnight May 24, 2013 (2013-05-24) $8,114,627 $3,061,842 $23,376,973 $3,000,000 [92][93]
Boyhood July 11, 2014 (2014-07-11) $25,352,281 $22,785,385 $48,137,666 $4,000,000 [94]
Total $198,132,207 $89,476,361 $287,608,568 $155,923,000

Awards and nominations

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Richard Linklater

Year Title Academy Awards BAFTA Awards Golden Globe Awards
Nominations Wins Nominations Wins Nominations Wins
2003 School of Rock 1
2004 Before Sunset 1
2008 Me and Orson Welles 1
2011 Bernie 1
2013 Before Midnight 1 1
2014 Boyhood 6 1 5 3 5 3
2019 Where'd You Go, Bernadette 1
Total 8 1 6 3 9 3


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