TV

Ellar Coltrane: "Boyhood is part of me"

Boyhood star Ellar Coltrane on making the Oscar-nominated film over 12 years – and plans for a sequel...

How does it feel to be the star of Boyhood, which is not just the best film of last year but the best film of the decade and possibly the century so far?

Oh well, that’s high praise. It’s hard for me to look at it in that way because it’s part of me.

For those who don’t know, what makes Boyhood unique?

The big one is that we shot for 12 years and used the same actors. You see real-time ageing, almost like time lapse. As far as the story [goes], it’s very simple. No one dies, there are no explosions or robots. It’s really just a story about a family very much like a lot of families. There aren’t many stories about real life these days.

When you were younger did you not wish the film contained more robots and explosions?

I never really thought about it that way. I understood what [director] Richard Linklater was trying to accomplish. We certainly joked a lot – what if at the end my character Mason is killed by secret agents or something.

Over the years did it feel like you were playing a character or just being yourself?

It was both. Mason is a very crafted character but he’s crafted using parts of myself. Richard always asked for my input, even when I was young. We would talk about my life and my feelings, create the character then play the character. As I got older there were more elements of myself in the character but it also became a chance to separate this character from myself.

What was the filming process like, bearing in mind it took place over 12 years?

Every year we would meet up for about a week and a half. We would rehearse and workshop the script and the characters and build the dialogue for about a week then film for about three or four days. Twelve years sounds like a long time but it didn’t take over my life.

Was there any point you had changed your mind about wanting to take part in the project?

There were times I was maybe less enthusiastic. At 15 I was apathetic like everyone is. Other than that I always looked forward to it. Filming was a mixture of a family reunion and a summer camp.

The film is now winning plenty of awards. After 12 years, how does this part of the journey feel?

It can definitely be overwhelming but it’s a blast. The moment seizes you whether you want it to or not, it’s just a matter of enjoying it. I’m getting to travel all over the place and people really love the film. I know what it means to me but I never expected that it would impact people in the way that it has. The way it affects people is beautiful and inspiring.

Like any good film, is a sequel inevitable?

I think we’re all regretting that we stopped. We all love working together so I can say with some confidence most of the people involved would like to keep going. Though a sequel probably won’t come terribly soon.

But you already have the title – Manhood surely.

That sounds a little funny though.

Ah yes. That would probably be a different kind of film…

Boyhood is out now on Blu-ray and DVD

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