Growing Up with Boyhood‘s Lorelei Linklater
Time is its own plot line in director Richard Linklater’s loose, leisurely new film Boyhood, shot over 12 consecutive years. The film traces sad-eyed Mason’s (Ellar Coltrane) life from his elementary years to his first day of college, tripping on shrooms at Big Bend Park. And though much of the media buzz for the film has centered around Mason, I found myself equally engrossed with his sassy sister Samantha (played by the director’s daughter Lorelei Linklater), as she stumbled into her teens.
Like most real teens but very few movie teens, Samantha’s character wasn’t defined by any single teen trope. She may have mouthed off to her mom a few times, and may have been prone to communicating via the inefficient medium of eye-rolling, she was still, at her root, a thoughtful, loving kid. In her later teens, she even seemed (wait for it)….well-adjusted. This kind of naturalism and truthfulness is endemic in the work of Richard Linklater, who has been known to weave the lives of his actors into their characters. But perhaps that devotion to truth-telling becomes even more pronounced when the character is played by his own real-life daughter.
I talked with Lorelei about what it was like working with her director dad, how she has been influenced by her character (and vice versa), and what her long-term boyfriend thought of the film.
Did you understand the scope of the project when your dad first talked to you about being in the film?
I knew how much time it was going to take but I don’t think I comprehended the massive scope and artistic significance at such a young age, no.
Do you think your dad felt an added sensitivity and protectiveness towards your character since it was played by you?
It’s difficult to say. I imagine so. I’ve often wondered what Samantha would be like played by someone else.
Did the movie change your relationship with your dad?
Um yeah, I think so. It made me understand the process of movie making more and really respect the complexity of what he did. We had a good relationship working together. In the earlier years it would sometimes be a cause for squabbling but then in the later years it would just be like:
“When we doin’ the 12 year?”
How much input did you have over the script and the editing?
None over the editing (unfortunately, because the editing is awesome). Sometimes, while working on individual scenes, we would be able to tweak the previously written dialogue and sometimes come up with our own. The script was pretty amorphous.
What parts of your character were taken directly from you or your life?
A lot of little things. I’d have to see it again to pick them out. It’s definitely a fictional character, not intended to be me. I think they picked aspects of life to include that were the most universally relatable. The imaginary language I speak in the beginning was real though. I did actually have an imaginary language as a kid.
One of the major themes of the movie was the passage of time. Did growing up on set affect your relationship with time and everyday moments?
They filmed the movie every year and I grew up with the cameras on me every year. Most people’s lives aren’t documented like that so they aren’t as reflective. As a kid, I was very concerned that everything I did had to be useful or productive. I used to be very careful about how I spent my time. I would write down everything I did that day and write poems and stories about everything. That kind of turned into art – I’m pretty obsessed about art these days.
You watched the movie for the first time with your boyfriend. It must have been odd for someone so close to you to see you in all these stages all at once. What did he think?
Haha, oh boy. That was an intense 3 hours; seeing it for the first time was kind of like a dark psychedelic trip. I can’t say for sure what he thought. I think he had previously imagined me as a kid a lot different from that.
Did watching the movie as an adult make you completely reinterpret or reexamine different stages of your life?
Yes. I don’t wan to get too dark but I’ll say watching the different stages of my life really just kind of made me sad and pissed off. I don’t like dwelling on my past much these days. There’s nothing about my developmental stages that I think needed to be documented.
I may or may not have scrolled through your entire Twitter feed admiring your artwork. Any art projects that you are working on at the moment?
I like to be working on multiple paintings and drawings at once. I will continue to make art for as long as I’m alive. It’s like breathing or eating for me; not much of a choice.
Are you working on any new film projects?
I just acted in a feature called Occupy, TX, that is in the editing process and should come out later this year. I definitely hope to do more acting in the future.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
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