Capone embarks on an epic journey from boy to man talking with BOYHOOD writer-director Richard Linklater and star Ellar Coltrane!!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
So this is something of an experiment for me, although it’s really nothing compared to what writer-director Richard Linklater has accomplished with his 12-years-in-the-making BOYHOOD, an examination of both going through the formative years that lead to that first day of college, and of the memories that we cling to (or that haunt us) as we come out the other side of childhood. Using the same actors (including Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the lead boy’s divorced parents) for the duration of shooting, Linklater, newcomer Ellar Coltrane (who plays their son Mason) and Linklater’s daughter Lorelei (as his older sister) embarked on a journey that brought them together once a year for two or three days of shooting at a time.
The result isn’t a collection of “important” moments in Mason’s life, but more a series of free-floating remembrances that are closer to the way our minds work as far as holding onto the times that shapes us. For example, we don’t see Mason’s first kiss, but you can be damn sure we see his first heartbreak. It’s epic in both its ambition, length and emotional reach, and when you’re done watching it, your brain and heart will be flooded with your own significant life moments.
I first saw BOYHOOD in March at SXSW Film Festival, and the next day I sat down with Linklater and Coltrane for a little while, but not nearly enough time to cover all that needs discussion. So I held off posting the interview on the off chance that I’d get a chance to follow up, and sure enough, last week, I sat down with Linklater again (sadly without his young charge) to pick up the conversation and dig a little deeper. Both interviews are presented below, with a designation where the new interview kicks in. And with that, please enjoy my talk with Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane…
Capone: It just so happened I interviewed Ethan for another film he’s in right after the BOYHOOD screening, and I didn’t even bring it BOYHOOD, because I knew if we starting talking about it, we’d never stop. I don’t think I could have gotten the words right if I’d wanted. But in my notes right after seeing the film, I wrote, “It’s not a portrait of an extraordinary life, but the film reminds us that life is extraordinary.” This isn’t a collection of watershed moments from Mason’s life, but just ordinary moments. Was that the intention?
Richard Linklater: I think so. It was about the in-between moments. I never wanted to show the first kiss, with the music swelling. Anything that I had seen before wasn’t that interesting. I wanted it to feel like a memory, like the way you would look back on these years. Things you’d remember. I don’t really remember high school graduation, except for the part where I went drinking with a buddy in a car. Ultimately, that was more fun and memorable than walking across a stage.
Ellar Coltrane: …the graduation.
RL: Yeah, the lameness of the sameness [laughs].
Capone: But you’ve done the “drinking in the car with the buddy” movie already.
RL: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of that. I guess I like that [laughs].
Capone: Ellar, were there times when the memories Richard was pulling from at those ages paralleled things you were going through growing up? I can’t imagine having to go through that time in my life twice.
EC: Yeah very much, and a lot of times it almost was the other way around. There were things that Mason would be talking about that were things that I was interested in at the time. But also, I was home schooled growing up, so my life was very different from Mason’s in a lot of ways. It was an alternate experience.
Capone: Was it like living two lives?
RL: Actually, Lorelei and Ellar were both wise beyond their years in a certain way, and we had to pop culture them to their characters and ages, even dress them in a certain way. But I knew as time went on that the characters would meet who they really were, more or less, and that would come into play—their own tastes, their own life.
Capone: When each new segment was getting ready to be shot each year, were you open to being a little bit flexible about what was contained in those? You certainly had specific plot point and beats you wanted to hit, but in terms of personalizing these characters, were they allowed to bring more and more of themselves.
RL: Oh, it had to be. It was little things. I think it was in that structure of being very open. The way I work is pretty collaborative, and often it would be let’s get together a week or two before and start talking about it. I’d have a year to think about it, but often I’d check in with Ellar. I guess I always wanted the film to be where he was developmentally. I wasn’t ever going to force anything on him. But I wanted to get his vibe of where he was at, what would work. Can I tell him the marijuana story? [Ellar relents] I was like, “Okay, it’s eighth grade. You’re at this little camp out, and these guys are being jerks. Would there be beers around, or what would you guys and your friends be doing?” And he’d be like, “Well, I kind of prefer marijuana.” And it’s like, okay. That’s a great moment in the movie when he comes home, and he’s been smoking, and [his mother] smells it on him. You’re so confident. “Oh, a little bit.”
EC: “Have you been drinking?”
RL: “Yeah, have you?” [Laughs] It’s like oh, what a different kid to take his mom on like that. At that point, you’re taller than her. Things are shifting.
Capone: I love that you didn’t put chapter headings in front of each new year.
RL: Oh, god. That would have been so awful. Like the year or something?
Capone: Yeah, instead you have to pay attention, notice the hair cuts, specific references.
RL: Yeah, one of the visual ideas I had right off the bat was I didn’t want anything from the film to tell you. It had to come from the environment. You realize, “Oh, the hair’s different,” or “Someone’s grown this much. Something’s different.” It had to be from the environment itself, but I wanted the film to look and feel the same and not hit those transitions too hard. Again, it was like a memory. It flows. You don’t go, “Oh, that was that year.” It’s more like, “Oh, was that that year?” It’s a flowing thing.
Capone: The film isn’t a memoir, where every date has to be cataloged.
RL: Right, exactly. If you put some documentary elements into it, like a time or a date, it would make it feel too episodic. It’s bad enough we were shooting over 12 years. I didn’t want it to feel episodic; I wanted it to feel like one thing.
Capone: I bet a lot of the people here in Austin could date the events specifically just from the video games that were being played; those guys know exactly when those games came out.
RL: [laughs] Yeah, it was a good audience yesterday for that, because yeah they were more geeky and got all of the humor. Like that scene with the iMac…is that what they’re called?
EC: The laptop?
RL: No, the one you have in school.
EC: Oh, right. Where it has the big back. That’s the eMac.
RL: Yeah, the big back but it was angled. It looked cool, but it was the computer everyone was using. Yeah, I knew all that would date the film. You can count on the technology changing, but it’s really interesting how little things have changed with the exception of technology. Fashion and haircuts and cars. There's not really a look that screams out, “Oh that’s 2009.” It’s like, really? My theory now is things are changing so much on a technological mini level, that the outer culture can’t even keep up and doesn’t even strive for change. It’s bad. It’s going inward where this used to be this outward expression of creativity. If you filmed from 1979 to 1991, look what a range of looks and cars and fashion and hair and music, everything you’d have. Now there’s a sameness that’s set in.
Capone: Some guy that sat behind me in the theater leaned over to his friend and said about Ethan Hawke, “He doesn't age.” I think his point was that it’s hard to tell what year we’re in because he never changes.
RL: [laughs] He thinks he does. Some people don’t. They really don’t. Prince doesn't age.
Capone: That’s true. I have to ask about one scene. The one that made me laugh the hardest was Ethan talking to the kids about safe sex at the bowling alley, because Lorelei looks so embarrassed.
RL: So uncomfortable.
Capone: And I wondered at that moment, “Have these kids had this talk with their parents already? Or is this it? Is this the time that they’re getting it?” Because there’s no way that she’s faking her hilarious humiliation in that scene.
RL: Yeah, she’s not. Because that was like father-son campout. She’s only in that one little scene. That’s her contribution to the whole [segment], so it leans toward her in that. But as her father, I knew she was so uncomfortable about anything to do with the body. That was the year she was just the most “Ewww!” Any reference, she was just so repulsed. So I thought, okay, I’ll put a camera on her first, because I knew the more takes we did, the less she’d do that. So that’s a lot of first and second takes.
Capone: What do you remember about that day?
EC: I don’t. I don’t remember that day to be honest.
Capone: Do you remember anything about the first year? Did you understand at the time what you were getting into?
EC: Not really. It’s such a completely different perspective of life that you have. So in a certain way, I think I knew. It was definitely explained to me, obviously, but there’s certainly no way to understand how long 12 years is. It’s hard now to comprehend how long it is.
RL: Yeah, I met him when he was six, the first year we were shooting he had just turned seven. That’s double your life. But he was always game. That’s what I liked about him. He was always ready to jump in.
Capone: And thank goodness, because you can’t help wonder, what would have happened if he’d dropped out. I’m obsessed with Michael Apted’s UP documentaries…
RL: Well, a lot of people dropped out of that.
Capone: Well, that’s what I’m saying. But that’s a much longer…
RL: Yeah, it’s a lifetime commitment.
Capone: But it’s not a commitment, that’s the thing, because people are dropping out, and then they come back sometimes.
RL: Yeah, and it’s funny that it was supposed to be this comment on class, and it is. The rich kids are smart enough to go, “You know what? Fuck this, I don’t have to do it, and you’re not going to make me look like an idiot, so I’m out.” That’s what happens there. And then they come back if they have a cause they want to promote.
Capone: But you know what? I don’t mind that. Let them do that; I just want to see where they are. Was there ever a time when you were like, “Do I have to go back to this?” Or is it something you always looked forward to?
EC: Yeah, I think if anything, I became more enthusiastic as I got older, because you’re pretty passive when you’re that young, and it’s like “Oh, this is happening,” but you’re not really required to entirely participate when you’re that young. I think when I got older, I became more interested with the project and the collaboration.
RL: And the film demanded more of a collaboration.
EC: Yeah, that too.
RL: For instance, I would say, “Next year, we have this scene with this girl, and I want you to…” He had assignments to write or “Write down everything you said in that conversation like with that girl.” It was just more of an open collaboration the further we got.
Capone: For many years, you kept this project quiet.
RL: I sure tired to, but imdb.com posted us like year one or two. So you could go look it up, and there was this film called-- What were we called then? I think we were GROWING UP.
EC: I think it was GROWING UP first, but then for the longest time it was just UNTITLED 12-YEAR PROJECT.
RL: UNTITLED, because it was a work in progress. Anytime I’d be out doing interviews for another film, some people would go—and I could tell before the interview started who was going to ask--“Now what’s this film that’s coming out in 2014?”
RL: I was like, ugh. I met the guy who created imdb.com, and he was telling me how much he liked the film, and I said, “Yeah, I begged you guys not to put up this film.” And he said, “Oh, sorry, sorry. Well, it was in Variety.” He wouldn’t take it down. It would have been great for this to have stayed a mystery for longer. But for the general film-going population, they don’t know anything about it. It’s insiders; it’s people who do research.
Capone: I think it was Ethan who spilled the beans to me when I spoke to him for BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, so 2007.
RL: Oh, he started talking more openly about it.
Capone: Well I asked him about it, and he explained it to me, and I was like, “How have I not heard about this?” He was like, “Rich might be trying to keep it quiet.”
RL: I talked openly about it when I felt someone had an interesting question about it. My only hope was “I hope when it’s finished, someone will be interested in it.”
Capone: When you conceived it and started it, did it feel ambitious?
RL: Oh, yeah. It felt like we had left the shore. The boat was sailing to the new world, and on the horizon, there was no land behind us. That’s what it felt like.
EC: No turning back now.
RL: No turning back.
Capone: This feels like one of those things where it would give you a reason to say, “I have stay healthy, and I’ve gotta finish this thing.” It’s the same way some of those authors that have these like multi-part book series are being hounded by fans to stay alive to finish these stories off.
RL: I know Robert Caro has to stay alive to do that next LBJ; he’s only gotten through the first four. Yeah, you’re pulling for people.
Capone: When you’re conceiving something that long term, do you think that this is a reason to keep it together?
RL: Yeah. It’s probably good to have these life projects for that reason. It’s like okay, that’s what makes life living [laughs]. It was a leap for the future, an optimistic look at the future, just the fact that we’d all be around and healthy, and we all are. Maybe it helped. Maybe it’s a good therapy. We should all be involved in a long-term film [laughs].
Capone: We are, it’s called life.
RL: Ellar, I’ve written that you live until 117. We need you. So don’t be unhealthy.
Capone: It’s interesting that you have back-to-back films that chronicle the passage time. What is it about that that you find so fascinating?
RL: I think it’s the narrative. It’s mostly about storytelling, and obviously cinema is within time; it’s the fundamental building block within cinema that necessitates a lot of thinking about time and cinema and that relation. So I think I’ve spent most of my film life thinking about just that, and I think that’s where an idea like this can come from, such a simple idea but it percolated out of a few decades of thinking about that.
Capone: Is it sad now that 2014 is the first year that you aren’t going back to this? Is that going to be something you miss?
RL: Well it might feel that way like by the fall when we haven’t shot in a year, but we shot this past fall.
EC: It just didn’t feel out of place yet.
Capone: You’re not to the one-year mark.
RL: Yeah, it’s like the first year when you’re not in school. School is starting, and everyone else is going to school, and you’re not when you’re out of college. That’s a weird feeling. So, it hasn’t hit us yet. That’ll be in the fall, I think.
Capone: Plus you get to see each other doing press for most of this year.
RL: Yeah, it’s been a sprint. Just finishing the movie and Sundance. The last five or six months has been very much this film. We’re too much in it.
EC: It is definitely bittersweet, though.
RL: Yeah. We knew it all the time. We were out in West Texas. The last thing you saw is the last thing we shot in the movie. We knew something was ending. It was a unique feeling though; I’ll never forget it. It was really cool. Bittersweet, yeah.
Capone: That’s how the movie is. I can’t wait for people to start seeing it.
RL: Yeah, it was fun. It was fun to watch it with audiences and feel that connection.
EC: Yeah, to share that.
RL: Everything about this film is different than every other film. It’s multiplied. It’s counterintuitive times 12.
Capone: It must be fun doing something that no one else has done before.
RL: It’s fun to see people process it. But it’s wonderful. It’s a good vibe. Like you said, they appreciate it.
EC: Really appreciate it.
RL: Grown men come out of these screenings crying to me. Wow.
Capone: The thing that got to me was Patricia crying when Mason is on the verge of going away to college, because anyone who’s ever been a mom has been through that moment.
EC: Yeah. As we know, it’s all about mom.
Capone: I sat next to Ryan Coogler, the FRUITVALE STATION director, during the screening yesterday, and he said, “I don’t have any kids, but I feel like I just raised a kid watching that movie.”
RL: [laughs] He did. “Now you’ve done it.”
Capone: It’s as much a tribute to parenthood as it is to growing up and memories.
RL: That’s the other title. I guess PARENTHOOD was taken. It could be that, or MOTHERHOOD. It was a portrait of parenthood.
That’s the conclusion of the March 2014 interview. What follows is my talk just a few days ago with Linklater, where we pick things up again…
Capone: I’ve seen the film twice now, and it’s been interesting that the first wave of reviews out of Sundance and SXSW were really good. Now that some people have seen it more than once, they’re starting to respond to different things the second time around and notice different things. Have you seen that trend as well?
RL: Yeah, they seem to be the people that love it the most. They see other things. It’s kind of cool when you hear a reviewer say like, “I can’t wait to see this again,” especially since it’s a 2-hour 40-minute movie. Yeah, it’s crazy.
Capone: I noticed, for example, people responding to Patricia a little more, and they realize she’s such a focal point of the film, or at least she’s always in orbit around the focal point. Somebody on Twitter said, “I wish there were a female version of this story, like a GIRLHOOD.” And I said, “If you think what’s going on with Lorelei isn’t almost GIRLHOOD, you really need to see the movie again.” And whoever is running the Twitter account for the film seemed to dig what I said about that.
RL: Between Lorelei and the mom, it’s Womanhood. It’s an absolute female movie. The movie’s got a female part. It could be called MOTHER AND SON to some degree. The point of view is the kids, so you’re being pulled through the life, but the mom is the one who’s influencing you, as a viewer too. You’re going where she goes. You don’t really see her story until you step back a little bit and realize, “Oh, she’s living this whole life.” You have to analyze that.
Capone: Did you realize that while you were making it?
RL: Well yeah. I’m a strong point-of-view person. I think every movie needs that, and it reinforces the kid’s point of view, particularly Mason Jr.’s point of view, so I knew you’d see the parents through him and how he responds to them. It’s funny, Ethan called me the other day and asked, “Why does everybody think I’m a deadbeat dad? I hand her an envelope out the window. I’m probably working on that boat. They’re just projecting that.” He’s trying, he’s a good dad, we don’t know. Because you just see the parents from the kids’ perspective, you just judge the parents through them. You don’t know what they’re doing behind the scenes on your behalf.
Capone: A kid’s world is so small. It really is just your house and your yard and eventually your school7.
RL: You’re just reactive.
Capone: I may need to go sit through it again tonight to verify this, but I think every scene in the film has Ellar in it or watching it like, it’s a memory as he saw it. Except for one scene…
RL: Yeah, the kitchen scene.
Capone: Right. At the very end, his parents talking in disbelief that their kids are both out of high school. And I thought that was such a nice little moment to congratulate the parents on getting through it somehow.
RL: Yeah, you picked up on that. And it felt a little odd. But it was the last scene, so their characters are both coming to an end. We thought we needed that, and I got away with it became Ellar’s in the room. It was just a little aside.
Capone: I did consider that. Maybe he saw them across the room and couldn’t hear them, but that’s the conversation he thinks they were having.
RL: Yeah, just feeling them out. So it’s still in the atmosphere.
Capone: I like it better that it’s not seen through him. I like that you gave that to them that.
RL: They earned it, those two.
Capone: Definitely. As a father yourself, was part of the reason you wanted to this film so you could put Lorelei in the film, so you’d have that record of her growing up?
RL: Not really, I swear. She wanted the part. At the beginning of the movie, that’s who she was this little sassy, saucy little girl, and when she realized I had a part for a character about her age, she was like, “Oh, well that’s my part.” She took it. So it’s like, okay. And then I thought, this is convenient, because I’ll know where she is every year, so that’s one less volatile thing. So I liked that. I thought it would be a fun life experience for us, but it’s a very different film for Ellar in his life than it is for her in her life. She just grew up on movie sets. Her being in a movie working with me was no big deal after all these years. People could know her, and probably not even know about it. It’s just not a big deal in our lives. It was just a fun thing we were doing every year.
Capone: In some of the interviews, you’ve said that you wanted to explore this as a parent looking and wondering how kids see the world. I’m curious if one of the reasons that Ethan and Patricia are in it is because they were also fairly young parents.
RL: Yeah. I don’t think either of them would have been right for the part had they not had kids. That was some of my criteria. I’d only met Patricia once briefly before this, but her being a young parent coupled with my thinking she was a great actress, and I liked her realness. So that was a hunch about her. Ethan I knew had two kids at that point.
Capone: With him especially, I watched those scenes with him and the kids in the car where they’re talking about how to have a normal conversation, and I thought I bet that’s how he is with his kids. Like, I bet he’s the a cool dad.
RL: [laughs] I’m some version of that with my kids too. I’m like “Okay, so how’s your childhood going? Are you okay?” I think big picture. I’m like, “So how would you grade your life so far?” And I’m trying to be funny about it too, but I love the self consciousness of parenting. “I’m not going to be that kind of dad; I’m going to be this kind of dad. What do I have to do to be that? Okay!”
Capone: With Patricia’s character in particular, again upon second viewing, I realized that she never gets a break.
RL: She’s a mom.
Capone: Her life is just making bad man decisions. Because the kids live with her, she gets the brunt of their dissatisfaction in life.
RL: No, she’s not the fun one. Is there even one scene where they’re having fun outside of childhood; there’s a burden there. Whereas, that’s just how you see it as a kid.
Capone: And by the end, she’s ready to maybe not be so dependent on men, and that’s when the kids leave. Now she’s like, “I can enjoy being with my grown children. No wait, they’re leaving.”
RL: “Oh wait. They’re gone. I’ve just missed it.” It’s kind of the timing of life. A lot of women do come into their own in this second phase of life, when the kids are gone, and the husbands are long gone. I’ve met quite a few who found some special calling.
Capone: Has the filmed played much outside the U.S. yet? I’m really interested to know how it’s played.
RL: Yeah, it’s played in Europe.
Capone: How is it playing? Are people responding to different things?
RL: It’s big. Big in France—very similar reactions. I was just in Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, London. I was there a few weeks ago, and yeah I would say a very, very similar response everywhere. Because, let’s face it, it’s just about being a human. Who doesn’t have parents, siblings, schools? I think there’s a commonality that seems to be what people are responding to. And they just think things like saying the pledge of the Texas flag, they just think that shit’s funny. The little details of the specifics are just funny, and the bible and the shotgun. That’s just funny. They can’t help but see their own lives in.
Capone: Yeah. Speaking of funny, I had completely forgotten the STAR WARS conversation until I saw it a second time.
RL: It gets a chuckle.
Capone: It gets a bigger one now than it did at Sundance, I’m guessing.
RL: Even in the last six months, it’s gone up.
Capone: That’s what I mean. It’s even funnier now that it’s being made.
RL: But what is it going to be three years from now or five years from now? You’re going to forget that this ever a topic to discuss. You’ll be like, “What are they talking about?” Yeah. It’ll be interesting how history treats that.
Capone: Rather than finding moments that changed Mason’s life, that sent him in a different direction…
RL: Yeah, decisive moments in life.
Capone: We see how some of these unseen moments have changed him, we see him in the aftermath of these moments. But the one thing that you do show us is his first heartbreak. That’s a thing that people hold on to.
RL: Yeah. That might be his first teenage heartbreak. He might have had a heart break in sixth grade during that year that was maybe short lived.
Capone: But this is the girl he was in love with. He was thinking about a future with her.
RL: I know. They were talking about living together. That was going to continue. Damn.
Capone: But that you showed us. Why did you pick that to show us?
RL: Damn. Maybe the utter impossibility of growing along with someone from that young an age. That’s what Mason Senior tells him: “These things never work out.” The idea that two people are on the same track, it’s so rare. But you don’t want to hear that when you’re young and in love, but you see from observing it. They are different people. There’s something they each like about each other, but they’re going to grate on each other too. They are fundamentally a little different. It’s not going to work.
Capone: It hurts to watch them lash out at each other.
RL: By the end, they were just kind of angry. It’s over, but it’s not. There’s nothing left but the pain.
Capone: Yeah, but it’s a great scene.
RL: But we don’t see the actual breakup. We just see the aftermath. It’s over.
Capone: The aftermath is so much worse.
RL: Yeah, it’s a lot worse because it doesn’t go away.
Capone: Did you have the last shot in mind the whole time?
RL: Yeah, I’ve talked about that. I guess about year two or three. I always knew it ended with him going off to college, but that being 10 or 11 years into the future, I didn’t feel like I had to have it all. But pretty quick I found that bookend shot to the first shot of the movie. He’s alone on the ground staring up at the sky, and I thought, this is cool if he’s with somebody. He meets a girl after his heart’s broken, and there’s just some hope. Something else is starting, and I thought that’s how it often happens, if you’re lucky. He should just have a moment with someone else. So I knew that last shot probably 10 years before we shot it.
Capone: I know we talked about this when Ellar was with us, about how you would call him up—and your other actors—at some point in between shoots and say, “What are you up to?”
RL: Yeah, but I would never ask like, “What happened to you yesterday in school?” and then work that into the scene. It’s always like, “Where are you at in life? Here are the scenes I’m thinking for this year. Here’s what we’re planning. What do you think about those?”
Capone: Did that collaboration increase as the film went on?
RL: Yeah, the whole thing gained tremendous momentum as we went. Everyone’s investment in it, everyone’s dedication to it just deepened every year. Pretty soon, you’ve invested five years, six years, and seeing the kids grow up, and I think Ellar and Lorelei came into their own as creative participants. That STAR WARS scene, that was based on something he was talking about with me. So I was like, “That’s a good father-son, multi-generation STAR WARS fans over the campfire kinda talk. So, he was playing that game.
Capone: I remember asking him in March whether he ever thought, “I’m sick of this. I’m done with this.” And his response actually surprised me; he said that he actually got more invested. That he would start to look forward to it, and it provided some much-needed structure in his life.
RL: It always felt that way. Ellar never wavered, not once.
Capone: His parents were artists and constantly encouraging him to create things. Do you think being a part of this fulfilled that wish in some way?
RL: Yeah. He talks about not having a lot of structure in his life, so this was something he would look forward to every year. It was a summer camp/family reunion kind of thing. Seeing the same people, it was a fun thing for him. In the last five or six years, every year we said, “This felt like the best year.” We were in a groove that we caught in the second half that was just like, “Wow.” It was just his character coming into his own—the emergence of self. And I realized that’s what the film’s about. Where does the self come from? How do you step out into the world yourself after being a kid without agency in the world. So you see that, as much as you can get there at age 18.
Capone: It does feel like we’re watching the ingredients being mixed to creating a self-sufficient person.
RL: Yeah. Who are you? And hopefully there’s a line back from everything around you—parents, school, siblings, the culture. What imprints you, what makes you who you are? That’s the big mystery. So I think we see all this effect on him, and yet he’s still the same dreamy kid staring up at the sky. He’s innately himself too.
Capone: As much as you said you wanted to make everything universal, and make it go across different cultures and languages, almost all your films are uniquely Texan as well, beyond just the location. Do you see that here? We talked about that when we were talking about BERNIE too.
RL: Well, BERNIE is way Texas. That’s East Texas. That’s not even Texas. It’s so much about a specific place and time. But you can just say “Texas equals small town America” with a slightly different accent or some original flavor. There's something American about it too. This, I think you had to believe they were in some kind of reality. It had to be real to them. If you’re outside Texas, you don’t have to care or understand, but it’s real to them. Driving to East Texas takes a long time, how it looks and feels. It’s probably special to Texas people, but it had to be rooted in a place and time. But to me, it could be made anywhere. you could make this film in India, you could make it in China, it’s the same. It’d be a similar tone.
Capone: Where the hell can I get a copy of Mason’s post-Beatles Beatles album?
RL: The Black Album? Yeah, it’s a real thing. I think they are trying to do it on iTunes.
Capone: It would have to be a playlist.
RL: We’re trying to make it available to people.
Capone: Have you put the list of songs out there somewhere?
RL: Yeah, it’s supposed to be happening. Internally, we made out own little thing. We’re trading it around. I’ll try to get one to you.
Capone: Also regarding music, I saw the film twice, and then happened to catch the end of a screening of it last week, and I heard the new Tweedy [the band name being given to an upcoming album by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and his son Spenser] song during the end credits. Was that part of the film originally?
RL: No. The SXSW version was exactly what we showed at Sundance, and a little later than that we had our absolute final music. We had to replace a handful of things, and Tweedy gave us a song.
Capone: That’s from the new record?
RL: Yeah. He’s touring right now. I love it because that’s the end of the movie, and there’s a new song. It’s like “Hey, we’re up to the present.” At some point, it will be the past, but right now, this summer when people are first seeing the movie, I think it’s cool to have the final thing you hear be a song that’s new.
Capone: When I saw you in March, I asked you and Ellar, did you miss the annual get togethers yet? And since you just shot in the fall you were like, “We haven’t really had a chance to miss it yet.” But now we’re many months later, are you starting to get the itch? Because you would be gearing up to do another one about now.
RL: No, I’m still in the same headset. Maybe I’m like 2 percent more done, but I’ve realized this one’s going to take a while. It feels weird.
Capone: Ellar at the end of this film is only a few years younger than Jesse in the beginning of the BEFORE films. Does that escape you?
RL: If it was some meta journey or some Charlie Kaufman film, maybe. Maybe we would cut to him on a train in Europe. You know? [laughs]
Capone: That would have blown people’s minds.
RL: That would have been funny to implode on itself like that, to just circle back. You know, Ellar actually said those are the three films of mine that he hasn’t seen.
RL: Yeah. And I said, “Well, I’m glad you’ve waited, because you’re almost Ethan’s age. If you want to hang out with the youngest version of your dad, of Ethan. Go hang out with a 23-year-old Ethan.” He’s really excited to see it.
Capone: I know there have been a few titles that have been sort of circulating for a while, some more recently than others. Do you know what you’re doing after this?
RL: Oh, man. I was just on the phone about this.
Capone: THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET had been the latest title to surface, but I know you’ve been talking about other things.
RL: Yeah, that’s been in development, something I swore I’d never be in forever, and I’m in development at a studio. Thank God, I don’t take it too seriously. I’ll believe that if I see it, if the planets align. But I have this other thing I’m trying to do this fall, so we’ll see.
Capone: Something of your own?
RL: Yeah, it’s a college comedy I’ve been trying to do, so that might be happening. Yeah. It’s actually a continuation of… It’s sort of a DAZED AND CONFUSED sequel, spiritually.
Capone: Oh, I’ve heard about this thing.
RL: It’s a DAZED sequel [that has gone under the title THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT for a few years], but it’s also a continuation of BOYHOOD. It opens with a guy showing up at college. But it’d be all different.
Capone: That’s been something you’ve been thinking about for awhile.
RL: A long time, yeah. Just a little gap. I’m want to make my college movie, you know? I made my high school movie a long time ago, made some other things.
Capone: Opportunity for a whole new bunch of new songs that you can play with too.
RL: It was an interesting time culturally.
Capone: Alright. Thank you so much. It was great to see you again.
RL: Yeah, always happy to see you.
-- Steve Prokopy
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