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‘I wanted him to be Moondog, always’ | Director, cast of ‘The Beach Bum’ tell set stories at live Q&A during SXSW 2019

‘The Beach Bum,’ the latest film from writer-director Harmony Korine, premiered at SXSW on March 9.

AUSTIN, Texas — ‘The Beach Bum,’ a new film written and directed by Harmony Korine and starring Matthew McConaughey, had its premiere at SXSW Saturday night.

But for those who missed it, an advanced screening was held at Alamo Drafthouse Mueller Sunday morning, followed by a live Q&A with Korine, McConaughey and actresses Isla Fisher and Stefania LaVie Owen.

The Q&A was moderated by Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League and livestreamed to Drafthouse theaters across the U.S.

‘The Beach Bum’ is a film about a poet and bum named Moondog (played by McConaughey), who spends his days loafing around Southern Florida, drinking PBRs, playing bongos and smoking copious amounts of marijuana.

He joins the legion of film slackers, in the spirit of The Dude from ‘The Big Lebowski.’ But, the minds behind the film think there’s also a philosophical element to his way of life.

“[He’s] a character who’s chasing bliss and sort-of a cosmic vibration,” Korine said. “He’s a magnet for eccentrics.”

McConaughey said when approaching playing Moondog, he threw logic aside.

“It was about all rhyme and no reason [with Moondog],” McConaughey said. “It was about all music and no arithmetic.”

The film follows a loose plot. It's simply about Moondog, who he is and how unbothered he is by the hard parts of life.

“I didn’t want to write a character that had this fake character arc,” Korine said. “I wanted him to be Moondog, always.”

“He’s not chasing truth, he’s chasing transcendence of the truth,” McConaughey said. “He doesn’t have much crisis in his life because he doesn’t give crisis much credit.”

Korine also wanted the film to convey the spirit of Southern Florida -- both the Florida Keys, with its laid-back nature and houseboat culture, and the City of Miami.

“I love Florida because it’s the weirdest state. I can never wrap my head around it,” Korine said. “And I love South Florida because it’s a vibe.”

Besides discussing the philosophy of Moondog and the spirit of Southern Florida, the Q&A was filled with behind-the scenes stories – like how Korine came up with the unique facial hair for Zac Efron’s wild-eyed pyromaniac character, Flicker.

“One of the strongest characters is Zac Efron’s haircut,” League said.

“I was staring at a panini,” Korine said, pausing for a long time. “And I just thought, ‘This would look good on Zac’s hair.”

And how Snoop Dogg’s character came to be an R&B singer named Lingerie, instead of just Snoop playing himself. 

Korine said the part was originally written to just be Snoop, but when Snoop read the script, he “had some notes.”

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At this point, McConaughey took over the story, doing an impression of Snoop.

“He says, ‘The character’s name’s Ray. Short for Lingerie. Because I’m smooth as silk, baby.’”

Korine added if you look closely in the film, all of Lingerie’s clothes say “Snoop” somewhere on them.

As for what Korine and the cast think audiences can take away from Moondog, they all agreed he stands for having a good time and taking it easy.

“It’s about enjoying life…enjoying the moment,” Korine said. “Sometimes, the best movie is the sunset.”

‘The Beach Bum’ hits theaters May 29.

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