How we made ‘Boyhood’

Director Richard Linklater cast Ellar Coltrane aged six to star in a coming-of-age film that took 12 years to shoot. The pair look back at pictures from the set

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Richard Linklater "I chose Ellar because I liked how his mind worked. He seemed like an interesting kid. He wasn’t cookie-cutter. My biggest collaborator on this movie though was the future. The architecture of the film was mapped out, but I knew events would intervene. Filmmakers are control freaks who try to bend things to our will, but I had to give that up."

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Ellar Coltrane "I was so relieved to get a haircut! Richard had asked me not to cut my hair, so it was great to see it go. Filming didn’t intrude on my life mostly. It took about two weeks a year, tops. My close friends knew, but I tried to not to talk about it or gloat. I didn’t tell my first girlfriend for a long time. Then, one day, I told her I was in a film. She was like, 'What the fuck are you talking about?'"

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Richard Linklater "This is Patricia Arquette with Ellar. When I first discussed the project with her, she was like, '12 years, really?' But I said, 'Where are you going to be 12 years from now? You’ll be looking for a part, and I’ll be trying to get a film made.' Every year I’d talk to her and Ethan Hawke about this evolving family, about where their characters might go over time."

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Richard Linklater "Directing my daughter Lorelei was easy. She grew up on movie sets. She knows what I do. It was a fun life project to have with her. But I focused more on Ellar when developing the story. I gave him assignments and asked him to note his feelings in certain situations, like with girls or at parties, so he could think about how his character would respond."

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Ellar Coltrane "By now, my character was beginning to merge with my own life. Those are my own clothes. I felt confident, and a lot more of me was in the movie because I had more to put out there. I didn’t see any of the film as we went along, I never asked to. That allowed me to be much more in the moment. I never worried about the final film."

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Richard Linklater "The last scene of the movie was the last thing we shot. I don’t know if I’ve fully accepted that it’s over. Film is a manufactured thing. You work to maximise time, efficiency and money. But making Boyhood couldn’t have been further from that. There was never talk of a release, distribution, any of that. It was like working on a time sculpture."

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