Wrap Screening Series: ‘Boyhood’ Director Richard Linklater Clears Up ‘Misunderstanding’ of the Best Picture Oscar Nominee (Video)

The filmmaker is also stunned that the executive who greenlit the film is still in his job

Last Updated: February 10, 2015 @ 6:23 PM

“Boyhood” writer and director Richard Linklater clarified what he believes is a misconception about his Best Picture of the Year nominee, which follows the development of a teenage boy, played by Ellar Coltrane, over 12 real years.

“I think there is a misunderstanding that I would, like, take things from [the cast members’] lives and put them in the movie,” Linklater told an audience at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles on Thursday following TheWrap‘s Award Series screening of the film. “I never really did that. I don’t think there is one thing in this movie that is from Ellar or Lorelei’s actual life.”

And considering Lorelei Linklater — who plays Coltrane’s sister in the Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominee — is the filmmaker’s daughter, he had no shortage of opportunities to do so.

Instead, Linklater said he kept a close eye on their lives throughout the unusual production, paid for by IFC Films, in a careful effort to make sure the characters he was writing would properly reflect the young actors’ development.

“I was alway gauging, particularly Ellar, where he was at developmentally for what the next year would contain, or what we were about to do next. That was important to me,” Linklater explained. “I just wanted it to mirror his actual development. I didn’t want him drinking a beer at a campout before he had actually done that. I was always aware of where he was, and pull scenes up, or move them accordingly.”

Jana Cruder Photography

Jana Cruder Photography

The on-screen siblings’ parents are played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, both of whom received Oscar nominations for their performances. Arquette has already won a number of awards, including a Golden Globe, and Linklater maintained that the story he first pitched her in 2002 while casting her is what audiences have seen play out on screen.

“I described the whole movie, and had it all planned out. The structure of it, you know, the moving, and new husbands and divorces, and all that; what her character would go through. That was all there from the beginning,” Linklater said. “But the specifics … I didn’t have a script to hand her at that point. I can’t believe I got this thing done, because I never turned in a script.”

Instead, IFC president Jonathan Sehring trusted the filmmaker with a production budget based solely on outlines or an annual “narrative” of what he planned to shoot.

Over the course of production, it wasn’t just the cast that Linklater noticed was changing, but the entire model of independent cinema, of which IFC was on the forefront upon launching in 2000. While initially a financier of low-budget films, Linklater credited the “economics of the indie world” for the company’s decision to focus solely on distribution — with the exception Sehring’s 12-year gamble on “Boyhood.”

A day after Sony Pictures Entertainment announced the resignation of longtime co-chair Amy Pascal, Linklater noted how miraculous Sehring’s career has been. While the executive was willing to risk his reputation and his company’s money on an investment that wouldn’t mature for over a decade, Linklater said he wouldn’t have bet on Sehring’s job security.

“People always ask, ‘Well, what if something happened? What if one of the cast members quit, or heaven forbid, someone died?’ There are always bad theoretical things that could have happened,” Linklater said. “I always felt we would all be here, but the odds that the executive who greenlit the movie in this industry would still have his job 12 years later? That I wouldn’t have bet on, at all.”

Watch video from the discussion below.

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