Actor Ellar Coltrane on Growing Up Filming Boyhood

Ellar Coltrane


Actor Ellar Coltrane delivers an unforgettable and transformative performance in the new Richard Linklater movie BOYHOOD. A narrative that chronicles most of a boy’s life, BOYHOOD was filmed in pieces over a 12-year span. It has received a ground swell of positive support from both critics and audiences. It has been years since people have identified a classic movie so readily, but they know it when they see one! As BOYHOOD expands into more theaters the coming weeks, audiences across the country and around the world will have an opportunity to experience a truly cinematic, coming-of-age story. I had a chance to speak with 19-year old Ellar about acting in BOYHOOD, the adults he interacted with (including director Richard Linklater and co-star Patricia Arquette), and what BOYHOOD means to him.


Summary: Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater, director Linklater’s daughter, as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before and is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. [IFC Films]


Ellar Coltrane spoke over the phone and referenced his busy schedule leading up to the release of BOYHOOD. He is very excited with how audience have been responding so positively to BOYHOOD.


“It is wonderful to share the movie with people and to see such a warm response from audiences,” Ellar Coltrane said. “The process is an adjustment and I’m enjoying it.”


Since very few child actors contribute to cinema as Ellar did, one wonders how a 5-year old becomes a part of the process. Simple enough, Ellar had a resume, an agent, and went to an audition. And then he had eight or nine more. Talking to director Richard Linkater was a fascinating experience for him. Even when there wasn’t a completed script, Ellar felt comfortable to grow as an actor in a safe atmosphere.


“I was challenged in a healthy way,” he said. “The intimate process allowed me to be so natural in a friendly, supported environment to explore emotions and an artistic method so gradually.”




Ellar admitted that the most unexpected moments being involved with BOYHOOD was the pre-release publicity.  Exposure on national television shows like ABC’s The View, NBC’s The Today Show, NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Daily Show with John Stewart, and a coveted rave review on CBS Sunday Morning provide the kind of publicity a micro budget indie film like BOYHOOD envies. It is almost as rare as a narrative feature being filmed over a 12-year period which might explain the unprecedented publicity. So is a robust film festival schedule, from winning awards at top notch international festivals like Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW and wowing crowds at numerous smaller festivals across America leading up to the summer roll-out release date.


Aging on screen and being a part of BOYHOOD was a transformative process for Ellar. Considering most of his life has been featured on screen in BOYHOOD, Ellar has maintained a level head throughout the process.


“While filming I was stepping into a different kind of life, but emotionally I put a lot of myself into it,” he said. “I was able to relate my own feelings and use it as my own to portray it on screen.”


Many people have described BOYHOOD as creating “cinematic history.” This is something Ellar has mixed emotions about and he is still processing the claim from movie critics and cinephiles.


“It is incredible and beautiful that people can take something away from it and it reflects what we took away making it,” he said. “The compliments have been difficult to receive. They are terrifying in a way that could be embarrassing. There is something about seeing phases, especially during adolescence, and to see them individually. That doesn’t feel like a real person and there is a sense of feeling incomplete. The emotions in this process are so new and raw you become lost in them. It allows me to see myself as a more complete person. It causes me to appreciate every moment of life.”


Working with Richard Linklater was a very positive experience for Ellar. He admires Linklater’s career and contribution to cinema (DAZED AND CONFUSED, BERNIE, SCHOOL OF ROCK, and the BEFORE trilogy with and Delpy) and how the filmmaker guided him along the process of working on BOYHOOD.


“I absolutely loved being guided by Rick and losing myself in the process,” he said. “One of the only things that makes me feel at peace is to be lost in creation. He was very much a mentor to me and a catalyzer to be introspective and to reflect. It is a gift he gave me.”


Ellar also appreciated and admired his time working with Patricia Arquette who plays his mother in BOYHOOD.


“We had a unique working relationship. She is an incredibly maternal person,” he said. “Our relationship reflects those in our personal lives. Those interactions reflect my own interactions with my mother and broaden my perspective. [Patricia Arquette] is genuine, passionate, and an incredible energy to be around.”


Ellar wants audiences to watch BOYHOOD with an objective mind and to let themselves get lost in the human experience.


“I want people to go in with an open mind. As much as [BOYHOOD] is a centered story and based on the characters, we are a vessel for the exploration of time and the precious nature of becoming you. This human connection and the way that humans experience time and life in general and how precious it is.”


BOYHOOD is playing in theaters across the country.  Richard Linklater crafted a masterpiece and Ellar Coltrane was vital in the creative process of developing the flawlessly executed film. BOYHOOD sets the bar for movies in 2014 and well beyond. This is an cinematic event for both and casual movie going audiences.



About Kenny Miles

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding.He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.