How one man pushed film to its epic limits

In some ways, the actors’ childhoods had more emotional struggles than their characters’. “He’s been through it,” Linklater says of Coltrane, adding he didn’t anticipate how Coltrane and Lorelei would be affected by having their formative years put on screen for mass scrutiny. “Even though it’s not a documentary, it’s still a document of those years, so it’s not an easy thing to go through. Lorelei being a young woman, having those body issues, and seeing how she looked every year, it kind of did a number on her. But anyway,” he sighs, “they survived”.

Lorelei Linklater has kept working as an actress ever since Boyhood, and Coltrane used his pay cheques to buy a house near Austin, Texas, which he then sold at a profit. “He made a lot of money from it,” marvels Linklater. “I said, ‘Jesus! You’re a real estate mogul in your twenties!’ He’s got a pretty good spread in New Mexico now, and he’s a poet. Literally, he’s writing poetry. He’s a thoughtful, wonderful human being.”

Linklater has a cast and crew reunion in mind for the film’s 12th anniversary, to echo the 12 year duration of the film itself, but he says he has no plans to follow Mason’s life into adulthood. However, he does have another project underway which explores his favourite themes in an even more ambitious fashion than Boyhood. Merrily We Roll Along, an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical comedy, charts the friendship of a songwriter, a playwright and a theatre critic across 20 years, running backwards from their disillusioned middle-age to their idealistic youth. Linklater, who is now 63, is committed to filming it with stars Paul Mescal, Ben Platt and Beanie Feldstein in segments every couple of years until around 2040. If Boyhood was a marathon, Merrily We Roll Along is an ultra-marathon. “People ask if Boyhood was risky, but no, it’s Merrily that’s definitely tempting fate on the actuarial timeline. I’ll be pushing 80 when we’re done. But I don’t know – I’m feeling alright. So far, so good!”

Hit Man is available to stream on Netflix internationally now

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