Screenshot: Infowars

Alex Jones was a novelty, once upon a time, a powerless, conspiracy-spouting nutter livening up the local fringe on public access. You’d get stoned, tune in, and quietly marvel at his passion while laughing at the absurdity of his words. That was the Alex Jones who strolled into an audition for Richard Linklater’s 2001 film Waking Life, and the one he cast and eventually brought back for 2006's A Scanner Darkly.

“He was this hyper guy that we’d all kind of make fun of,” Linklater recently told The Daily Beast. “I just thought he was kind of funny.”

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Linklater, understandably, seems embarrassed by his history with Jones, a genuine lunatic who, after making life hell for the families of school shooting victims, getting rich off snake oil supplements, and mentoring some of the worst people on Twitter, has since been legitimized by our president. Linklater is, however, quick to point out that Jones wasn’t always a partisan propaganda pusher.

“I talked to him a bit during the Bush-Cheney years. He always positioned himself as anti. So when you’re anti, he’s your bedfellow,” Linklater said, noting, as many have, that it’s weird to see him siding so emphatically with Trump. “I was surprised to see him position himself as a defender of a regime,” Linklater said. “He’s a bomb-lobber. He’s a blow-shit-upper from the outside.”

That didn’t make him good, obviously, but back then, at least, it was easy to see Jones as harmless. “I would have never thought I’d see the day when the president of the United States knew who he was, much less going on his show. It’s crazy, it’s insane, but it fits our times.”

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Revisit Jones’ scene in Waking Life below.