Richard Linklater’s made movies about being young before — his 1993 comedy Dazed and Confused is one of the great films about high school. But he’s never done anything like Boyhood, his new feature opening in select cities on Friday, July 11 and nationwide on July 18. In fact, no one has.
Linklater worked with stars Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and Lorelei Linklater to shoot the movie a few days out of every year for 12 years. There are no special effects, no makeup tricks, no new actors taking over for younger ones — Boyhood captures real time passing and how that affects both the characters (all members of a normal Texas family), as well as the people playing them.
Here’s a peek at how the Boyhood cast changes over the course of the film.
The star and center of Boyhood, Ellar Coltrane was a 7-year-old unknown actor when the film started shooting. Now, he’s 19. Boyhood follows his character Mason Jr., a Texas kid whose parents are divorced, from first grade through high school graduation, and in doing so, captures Coltrane growing from a child to a young man.
In Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight, Hawke, Linklater, and Julie Delpy depicted a relationship at three different points in time over almost two decades. So, Hawke’s role as Mason Sr., Mason Jr.’s not-always-reliable father, is a kind of parallel to that trilogy, catching Hawke over 12 years as he settles into middle age.
Linklater’s own daughter plays Samantha, Mason Jr.’s older sister, who begins Boyhood as a precocious little girl and ends the film as a playfully confident 20-year-old woman. Lorelei was reportedly the only cast member who briefly tried to exit Boyhood in her tween years, asking her dad if her character could be killed off.
As Mason Jr.’s mother Olivia, Patricia Arquette does her own share of extended growing up as she raises her children and discovers a new career for herself while having less success in terms of romance.