“It’s mainly the relationships. It’s the constant jabbing at each other, and things like that.”
“We didn’t do a punk show,” says Tyler Hoechlin when it was suggested that perhaps the off-screen camaraderie among the cast of the film mirrored that we which we see on the screen. Hoechlin is one of the stars of the new Richard Linklater ensemble film Everybody Wants Some!!, and “doing a punk show” in this case means attending one, as Blake Jenner’s character Jake does in the August 1980-set film.
Had they “done” one, its likely venue would have been here at the Four Seasons hotel downtown, as good a location to tear shit up as any, in my estimation. (Especially for young actors whose stars are on the rise.) “There were a lot of mosh pits,” Ryan Guzman jokes. “Breaking noses by accident,” chimes in Jenner, amid a lot of laughter. So the short answer to the question is perhaps, yes, they did get along off screen as well as they did on.
But then, they don’t always get along together all that well on screen. Jenner’s Jake is a freshman pitcher at Southeast Texas State University, and Hoechlin’s star player McReynolds and Guzman’s upperclassman Roper spend an early scene together showing their distaste for pitchers: After unwittingly shaking Jake’s hand, McReynolds, upon learning of Jake’s position, feels compelled to wipe his hand off on his shirt.
Everybody Wants Some!! is the film that Richard Linklater is calling his “spiritual sequel” to 1993’s much-beloved Dazed & Confused. The two movies have no characters in common, but there are interesting shadows and mirrors, and sort-of vague references here and there. Dazed & Confused ends on a shot of a car driving down a highway, into the distance. Everybody Wants Some!! opens on a shot of a car on the highway, arriving at its location. One of the lead characters in D&C, Mitch (Wiley Wiggins), is a rising freshman in high school who pitches for his baseball team. In EWS, Jake is a rising freshman in college, also a pitcher, attending STU on a baseball scholarship. There are a lot of little things like this.
“It’s really just a window into this world. It’s not beating you over the head with anything. It’s not trying to be like, ‘Here’s where we start, here’s where we finish.’ It’s just a slice of life,” explains Hoechlin regarding the ways in which Everybody Wants Some!! compares to Dazed & Confused. In Dazed, “You remember the restraint and the weight of the people and the authority around you. And then this is the complete opposite. It’s at the moment in your life when you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m on my own and I can be my own person, and I can find out who I want to be.’”
Beyond the similarities between the two Linklater films, there are interesting parallels in the lives and interests of these three actors. Both Guzman and Hoechlin have some background playing high-level baseball, and all of the actors also write on the side. In fact, Billy Boy, currently in post-production, is based on a script by Jenner.
Questions about this led to some amusing nerding out about what screenwriting software each prefers (Hoechlin uses Final Draft, while Jenner and Guzman use Celtx). Hoechlin offers some insights about who deserves credit for the improvs that actually made their way into the movie. “I’m always afraid of singling out things, because it was such a collaborative effort. Lots of things changed, but as a whole, I think we all kind of feel like it’s all ours.”
Later on in the interview, Guzman offers some insight on the nature of some of his input. “They gave us a list of six characters, and we had to pick three of the six, and audition for those characters,” he explains, describing how it came to be decided which actor would be slotted into which role. “None of those characters were Roper, and that’s who I wanted to play, so I took those three characters and I auditioned as Roper. And those characters got joined to make Roper.” “You cheated the system,” accuses Jenner. (Guzman doesn’t deny it.)
Says Hoechlin, “I remember getting the call that I got the job; I was like, ‘That’s awesome! That’s amazing!’ A couple days go by, and about a week later, I was like, ‘By the way, I’m leaving soon; who am I playing? I don’t know which character I got.’”
Later, Guzman (jokingly?) admits, “I brought my cousin and one of my really close friends [to a screening]. After the movie ended, they came up to me and said, ‘Which one were you?’”
“I didn’t have a college experience,” Jenner offers, expanding on his perspective of making the movie, “So I kind of got that freshman year experience [on the film] in that regard. Like, you get checked in, be at college with my friends, get to know these guys both on and off set.”
Similarly, Hoechlin compares making the film to his experience of college: “It’s mainly the relationships. It’s the constant jabbing at each other, and things like that. The dynamics of those relationships were something that I got to kind of live over again.”
“You know that slow-motion shot where you see the girls at the Sound Machine? I really liked that.” Jenner’s reminiscing about the shooting of the film—or perhaps just from viewing it once it was complete. Everybody Wants Some!! is a mostly male-driven movie, and this wistfulness in Jenner prompted me to ask if they wished they had more scenes with women, instead of so many with shirtless men.
“Not at all!” Guzman laughs, “We were just bro-ing out.”
“It was constant peacocking!” Jenner giddily recounts.
Later, Guzman more seriously describes the scene on set as “constant competition. It was constant pushing each other to grow as an actor, to grow as a person: Just have fun, enjoy the moment. It was like the best adult camp you could have.”
In closing, Jenner says that, “The one challenge for everyone—because I think everyone had the right amount of support throughout the whole thing—was not focusing on the clock. Nobody wanted it to end.”
One can only imagine: If it’s this much fun to watch a movie, how fun had to it have been to make it? | Pete Timmermann