Since debuting at January’s Sundance Film Festival, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has become one of the most critically adored films in recent memory. Audiences felt the same way, swooning at the story of a boy (Ellar Coltrane) and his complicated family as he ages from 6 to 18 years old. The experimental $4 million movie, filmed in Texas with little fanfare over a dozen years, has grossed more than $43 million around the world and become one of the favorites for Best Picture.
The experience has been surreal, to say the least, for 20-year-old Coltrane, whose life to this point is indirectly documented in the film. “People feel like he’s a family member,” says Linklater. “I’ve been on the street where people want to hug him; old ladies treat him like he’s their grandson. It’s kind of crazy for us to feel that connection and to feel that exuberance.”
EW chatted with Linklater, Coltrane, and Patricia Arquette to discuss how it all started. What did Linklater see in 6-year-old Coltrane that made him want to spend a decade with him?