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FOG! Chats With The Stars of EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!

Photo via Blake Jenner

Written by Ken Murray

Oscar nominated director Richard Linklater’s latest film, Everybody Wants Some!!, brought three of its stars, Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, and Will Brittain to Boston where they discussed the film, their director and bonding during production.

I watched Linklater’s film Dazed and Confused repeatedly in college and Everybody Wants Some!! is a spiritual continuation, set several years later in the Eighties. I asked the trio if they were prepared to be part of something that could potentially have a huge, cult following and could launch careers for many actors.

Will Brittain plays country-hick outcast Billy Autrey in the film. “I definitely had a buzz about the movie when being cast. I was just like ‘Wow dude, this is going to change our lives. This is a Richard Linklater movie, this is going to change your life.”

“Even if it just ends up being this one experience, this movie changed my perspective on a lot of things as far as what you enjoy doing the most with acting and being on set, being part of a great group of collaborators, actors and filmmakers,” added Tyler Hoechlin who plays Glen McReynolds, the team’s hyper-competitive slugger McReynolds, “That became such a bright spot. Being able to sit and do press for a movie you’re really proud of, it’s a great thing. You don’t have to sit here and BS anybody. We can actually just talk openly. It’s such a great group and to be part of a film like that is a really cool, special thing.”

Blake Jenner plays Jake Bradford the freshman pitcher, who serves as the film’s point of view, “The amount of things you learn from an experience like that, from these guys, from Rick. He’s such a stealth guy, but if you really watch him you see how interesting his way about the whole rehearsal process is. We’ve said a million times, if we ever get a chance to direct something, especially something we write, we’re definitely copying him.”

The audition/casting process was something all three actors were eager to discuss.

Tyler Hoechlin

“They weren’t going to have me come in originally. I had to talk to my agent because they were looking for people a little bit younger. I talked to my manager about it,” explained Hoechlin. “He came up with the idea of sending Rick an email. I watched Rick’s documentary on Augie Garrido, the University of Texas baseball coach. My manager said find something that stands out to you. In the first 20 minutes Augie said something 3 or 4 times, something that was my motto on the inside of all my baseball hats, “Whatever It Takes“.

Hoechlin continued, “I sat, wrote an email out, I didn’t proof read it, I didn’t edit it. We sent that and asked for the material they were doing for the people who were auditioning. It was an interview, who you were, what your high school and college experience was, athletic background. I did that at home. I think you guys went in and did that. I did a self tape. They gave me a list of bullet points so I sent them a five minute thing of this is who I am, where I’m from, what I’ve done. From there we had all gotten the script to read. We all had to go to a casting office and read the script. They gave you a list of characters to choose from. You picked 3 characters you wanted to read. We went through a couple of cycles of auditions and reading with Rick. That was the process.”

“One thing that really hasn’t been said yet is how great the casting directors were, which is a really vital part of the process because they are the ones who hand selected the crop of guys who were presented in front of Rick,” added Brittain. “In essence they kind of found the soul of this movie for Rick. I never had a whole lot of respect for casting, not disrespect, but as an actor you look at casting as the obstacle I want to overcome. I want to get to the director. This is a film where I kept saying ‘Damn this movie is so well casted. Everybody is just so right for their role.’ I think it’s obvious when you watch the movie too.”

Blake Jenner discussed what it was like being cast and working with Rick Linklater. “Going from first moving out to Los Angeles and working at a Burger King and a parrot shop, auditioning for Best Buy commercials you get cut out of, to this, it’s pretty incredible. Working with these guys alone, you never think you’re gonna work with an awesome group of people. Then you add Rick to the mix and it’s kinda like a dream. It sounds cheesy, but it’s a dream come true, 100%. To be able to say you worked with this director who’s one of the best directors of our country and our time. You always hope to work with somebody like that. That would be a dream, but you have no expectation.”

Blake Jenner and Will Brittain

Brittain confirmed the ensemble’s mutual excitement, “For me too, growing up in Texas, Richard Linklater is THE guy. You look at (Matthew) McConaughey. Every Texas actor that’s a male and reasonably athletic looks at McConaughey and thinks ‘That’s what I want. I can do that if someone would find me. I could be the next McConaughey.’ Then you get found by Richard Linklater and you’re like ‘Alright! Here we go!’ So it’s cool.”

The film tackles many themes including finding out who you are, growing up, being part of a group.  I asked the actors to talk about what they thought the film was about at its core.

“I think it’s not being afraid of being who you are”, according to Hoechlin. “My favorite line in the movie is Willoughby’s line ‘Just be weird. Always bring who you are, never who they want. And that’s when it’s fun.’ I love it. I thought it was such a great, new way of saying Be Yourself. It’s so much more fun when you embrace what you are and who you are. You thrive that way. To me that’s the theme that hits me the hardest.”

Jenner added, “I completely agree with him. Life is much, much more fun when you’re not watching yourself or monitoring how you’re being. There’s two things I always say, and I could be completely wrong, but this is what I get from it, (the film) is timeless. All the external things change, clothes change, music changes, all that changes, but growing up, finding out what you love, finding out who you are, having a good time with your friends, that never changes. I think everyone here has their times when they focus about the future or think about something they regret in the past. But what’s cool about this movie is, there isn’t a huge plot. There isn’t a car crash coming down a waterfall and there’s mermaids catching you and they make out with the dudes in the car, it’s just a slice of life where you just can’t help being there with the guys. It’s a testament on how important it is to live in the now.”

The film is based in 1980 and none of the actors were even alive during that time people. I asked if they listened to or watched anything to prepare for that time period.

According to Hoechlin, “Rick gave us an album with a bunch of songs that would have been popular then. Also an iPod Nano and said ‘These are the songs that were around, find the ones you think your character would be in to.’ That’s the way Rick directs too. He’s very suggestive instead of ‘Do this.’ It’s great. It inspires creativity and it makes it feel very free. For movies, every night on his property we would have a screening. We’d have a little discussion and Q&A afterwards. We watched Breaking Away. We watched an Italian film Il Sorpasso.”

“Strangely that was probably the one that influenced us the most,” Brittain added

Hoechlin continued, “We watched a Dock Ellis documentary which was great because it really captured the attitude of ballplayers in that era. Now the game is so different, so professional, so polished. People are worried about their brand, getting endorsements. Back then it was just about playing ball. And his documentary on Augie Garrido, Inning By Inning.”

“And Animal House,” Brittain continued. “It was obvious this movie had a lot of Animal House in it, but with Rick’s style.”

The three actors play baseball players in the film and discussed their experiences in sports.

Hoechlin, “I played baseball throughout college so it was kinda like going back to my glory days and having a little bit more fun than I had in college. I was the very focused athlete. I would party on the one party day we had.”

Brittain, “I was a pretty good football player in high school and a pretty good track athlete, but I was a terrible baseball player. I stopped playing that around the age 14. It was nice to come back in and play baseball and also get taught baseball by guys who, like Tyler and Juston Street and Tanner Kalina who’s a phenomenal ball player. To get coached up by these guys who really knew what they were doing, it was nice. These guys could have played pro ball. Juston Street did play pro ball. It was a cool experience.”

Jenner, “I grew up playing football and basketball. I did some wrestling in high school. I still play basketball, pick up games, with my boys back at home. I never played a day of baseball.”

The film is classic “Coming of Age” storytelling mixed with a college house party vibe and a classic sports movie, I asked them how they describe the film to people.

Jenner begins, “It’s hard to do.”

“Hopefully people go see it and eventually say ‘Oh it’s like an Everybody Wants Some movie,’” adds Hoechlin, “We’re setting the tone, setting the stage for the next person who wants to do something like this where it’s just hanging out and getting to know 13 characters.”

Jenner further explains, “I wish it was cool to just say ‘Go see the movie’ because you just have to experience it. It’s kind of difficult to describe because you can go so many ways with it.”

Hoechlin shared his experiences, “To me, sports are such a metaphor for life. Traditionally when you say sports movie, a lot of times, as someone who is a fan of any game, you think sports movie and you think quest for a championship. They’re either gonna make it or they’re not. That’s become the definition of a sports film. To me sports are about the challenges you face, how you work through those challenges, how you deal with other people on a team, those dynamics between teammates. Those are the things that translate far after you’re done playing the game. You take that in to your workplace, in to your every day life. This was going to be one of my favorite sports movies because Rick focused on that. I find it far more interesting to see the dynamics between the characters and how they relate to each other. That’s far more fascinating than watching the game. If you want to watch a game, go watch a game.

Brittain agreed, “It’s probably a truer sports movie than most sports movies in that aspect.”

Jenner added, “I didn’t play baseball like Tyler, but what Rick does so well is he doesn’t go straight for the outcome. He loves the topic of getting there. It’s cool to see somebody win, but it’s also cool to see the process of achieving that.”

Everybody Wants Some!! is now playing in limited release
Ken Murray is a Boston based film reviewer and filmmaker. Find him on Twitter at @Murraymaker
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