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BOY’S LIFE


Actress Patricia Arquette dishes on what it was like acting in the groundbreaking “Boyhood.”


BY SAMMI LEIGH MELVILLE I


f you were to shoot a film over the course of 12 years about a boy’s adolescent life, pouring your own experiences into it and creating the script as you go, what would that experience be called? Patricia Arquette, who,


for the past 12 years


has been acting in a film that did just that, called it “the strangest, most unorthodox and beautiful experience ever.” Director Richard Linklater called it “Boyhood.” Te film takes you on a journey through the life


of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), starting when he is in first grade and ending just as he enters college. Te film cuts in and out of his life in a way that is refreshing and natural. We aren’t burdened by the clichéd turning points of life, like a first lost tooth or first kiss, but instead get to see Mason in his downtime, relating with his friends and family. It becomes more about his character than what’s happening around him. Sometimes, the film jumps in time and the audience has to scramble to catch up. Life is never the same for more than a moment, and Linklater makes sure to portray that. Overall, the film does a beautiful job of encapsulating the interactions of this family, so much that you feel you really get to know them. In a phone interview, Arquette gave me a little more detail about how the film was created. Fascinatingly, the scenes were shot in real time, in the midst of other projects, so you actually watch these people as they age. Why did she call the project unorthodox? “I immediately said yes,” Arquette remembers,


“and [Linklater] said, ‘We don’t have any money,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah yeah yeah, I’m in!’ And I said, ‘Can I look at the script?’ and he said, ‘Well, we don’t have one.’” It turns out that Linklater had the structure for the


script, but wanted to leave room in order to develop the characters naturally as they grew. So, Arquette and the rest of the cast had to discover the script as they went.


46 | THE BURG | 08.14 “It took a really different skill set...and I was


excited by that,” added Arquette. “Rick would write the rough draft of a scene, and we would read it, and then we would talk about different people’s life experiences that sort of correlated to the scene in some way or another, or each other... and then we would do an improvisation of it, and Rick would say, ‘Tat second part of that story you told about your friend, let’s use that. Tat little improv you said on that line, let’s use that part.’ And he would craft it from there, and then we would shoot it the next day. So, it was a bonding experience and a really creative, collaborative experience every year going back.” Tis collaborative way of creating the story meant that it was ultimately a blend of different people’s experiences, even in the little, “dumb” moments. “My friend told me that story about her son sharpening a rock,” Arquette said. “It’s so crazy how the world’s set up. You teach little children, here’s this tool, here’s what it does. It sharpens something. And then, they’re kind of brilliant, and they think, I want to sharpen this thing—I’m gonna use a sharpening instrument. And then they get in trouble.” Te beauty of this collaborative blend is that every


moment is based on something true. Tat explains why the characters feel so real: there’s not a contrived moment in the film. You see all sides of this family, even the ugly ones, and that becomes the message of the film. “Families bug each other, and they get on each other’s nerves, and they push against each other... but what love feels like is... imperfect, but it’s there,” said Arquette. “It’s your base, but it’s not always flowery and perfect. You go through things in life, everyone goes through things in life. You show me the perfect parent, I’m gonna show you a lunatic.” And that on-screen family became a kind of second family. “I never got the full script, so Rick would tell me,


‘Oh, this year their dad’s gonna take them camping...’ But I didn’t know exactly what they talked about. So


“THE STRANGEST,


MOST UNORTHODOX AND BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE EVER.”


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