Directed by Richard Linklater
OPENS At The Charles Theater August 1
Patricia Arquette (“True Romance,” “Ed Wood,” “Lost Highway,” “Bringing Out the Dead,” “Fast Food Nation,” HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) and no-longer-a-boy Ellar Coltrane (“Fast Food Nation”) are stars of “Boyhood,” which was produced over the course of 12 years with the same cast by writer and director and Richard Linklater, who has a nice mix of Commerce and Art in his sample case: the Sunrise series with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, the animated, creepy, and creepily animated “A Scanner Darkly,” “School of Rock,” the super indie-cred “Slacker,” and the thing that gave us Matthew McConaughey, “Dazed and Confused.” We met over a horrible speakerphone connection with Arquette and Coltrane on a hot day two weeks ago. (Joe MacLeod)
City Paper: It's very nice to talk to you, I saw this movie, and, I mean, you guys have been all over everything, which is good, because this movie deserves it, I will just thank you for taking the time to do this because I know you guys have done a lotta stuff, and you gotta be sick of this shit by now.
Patricia Arquette: We're not, we're really grateful, because we loved making this movie so much, and I didn't know anyone was gonna give a rat's ass about this movie. I was really worried about that—
Ellar Coltrane: Yeah.
PA: —and to have it resonate with people, is mind-boggling.
CP: The funny thing is, if you asked somebody if they wanted to see a movie where they shot the movie one week a year for 10 or 12 years, with the same actors, a lotta people would probably just be like “uh, yeah, that sounds like a clinical, dry exercise,” and I gotta say, it's this weird thing where, my ideal way to go to a movie is to not know anything about it, but with this one, I knew so much about it, and I had to fight that, and after about 10 minutes, that went away, that whole awareness.
PA: Good. We were worried about that. The only people who did not know anything about it was that first Sundance screening.
CP: This Linklater guy, he does art, he prosecutes an agenda, he's got an idea to do something, and he does it.
EC: That's all there is to it.
PA: He's the most intimate filmmaker, maybe, working. I mean, his body of work, if you look at it, is so philosophical, so human, such an exploration of intimacy and love, and, you know, who's gonna do, in that Sunrise series’ last film (“Before Midnight”), who’s gonna do a conversation with a man and wife that goes on that long?
CP: Right. Yeah (laughs). Nobody.
PA: Nobody. And I loved watching it.
CP: You guys would see each other for a week or two once a year, right?
EC: That's correct.
PA: Also, what Rick did, he's structured with his openness. So if somebody has done a movie about a kid growing up for 12 years, they would have written who this kid was for 12 years. They would have scripted it out, decided who he was, and decided how it was gonna work, but Rick left a lot of openness, and input from the kids.
CP: It really did look like, Ellar, there are moments when your character has these theories about computers and stuff like that, and it's like, that seemed so appropriate for somebody of that age who’s figuring stuff out, and I can't imagine that was just something that was written down on an outline.
Ellar: Yeah, no, no, very much of that was born through conversations Rick and I would have. The first conversation with Sheena [a girl Mason meets, played by MICA student Zoe Graham], Rick had asked me the year before that to just, the next time I was alone with a girl for the first time, to think about it, or write down what I had talked to her about, strange as that is.
CP: That sounds horrifying.
EC: Yeah, it certainly gave me an entirely new level of self consciousness, but it also allowed me to explore all of these things I was going through, through this character and through the project, especially as the character got older, and required more input, I definitely had more input to give.
PA: Rick cast Ellar when he was little, it was like nine auditions, they weren't really reading, they were talking about life and art and how Ellar saw the world, and talking about Ellar's drawings he was making, but as you get into these conversations [Ellar] is talking about, about computers, and the way his character sees the works you also see that in Mason Sr., the interests, and the fact that Rick had cast someone, he kind of cast the son of the father.
CP: I’m watching this movie and I thought “OK, when does Ethan Hawke [who plays Mason’s father, Mason Sr.] start to age?” That fucking guy doesn’t crack, man, but then finally it was like “Finally, he’s getting older.”
EC: I think we’re still wondering.
CP: Ellar, when you're halfway through this experience, this 10, 12 years, was there ever a moment when you were like, “fuck this, I don't wanna do it anymore”?
EC: No, not really. I was always glad that there was this positive outlet in my life, I really enjoyed the structure and the commitment, I think. I wasn't forced to do much as a kid, it was, to have something I actually felt obligated to, was exciting.
PA: The weird thing too, is because, for a lot of kids . . . the purpose of acting is just to be famous. But we made this movie every year, and it didn't come out, and it didn't come out, and it didn't come out, it wasn't the end that was—
EC: That wasn't the point.
PA: —the goal, it was actually the experience of making it was the reward for all of us, and the kids didn't have the shitty impact of being a child actor, they got to have the fun of working with other actors, and the crew being like a family, without the shitty stuff.
EC: Yeah, we were allowed to be just loved, and creating, and it's really incredible.
CP: And Mr. Linklater is the guy that sort of sets that example for everybody, huh?
PA: Yeah, I think so much, movies are about the outcome . . . and because the process was so long, because we really didn't have to show up if we didn't want to, because we weren't really getting paid, anything, it was more about the experience of making it, and I think that was a beautiful, different way to work.