The following questions and answers are excerpted from a conversation that followed the NBR screening of Everybody Wants Some!!.
You said that your biggest talent was in the casting of the film. That’s not something we always hear from directors.
Richard Linklater: I think the movie speaks for itself in that way. It’s like the vibe you get from people. It’s sort of like picking a team, to go with sports analogies. Who are the right role players? We meet hundreds of people so it’s important to pick the right vibe about who is going to get along together. If you make a few mistakes, it throws off everything. Even as we started, we had a three-week rehearsal workshop time, and Glen [Powell, who played Finnegan] said “Rick, did you sniff this out? Did everyone get along?” If there had been a jerk in the group, I would’ve been ready to fire him.
“The brotherhood and the camaraderie you see was given birth to before we even set foot on the set.”
What was it like being on Richard Linklater’s ranch for that rehearsal period?
Tyler Hoechlin: It was sort of everything. It was like the ultimate actor/adult/bro summer camp. We had the best time and we had baseball – I was about say baseball rehearsals! – we had baseball practice, script run-throughs, discovering things between the lines together and playing with certain things, like re-distributing lines when they didn’t fit one person to another. And dance rehearsals. The biggest part of the “homework” was just getting to know each other. That was the most important part. The brotherhood and the camaraderie you see in the film, all of that was given birth to before we even set foot on the set.
Wyatt Russell: I would say it felt like we made the movie in those three weeks, and then we just had to show up and put the costumes on and film it.
How did the costumes and time period affect your performances?
Hoechlin: I remember the first time I put on a McReynolds outfit, I walked completely different. We did everything in this movie together. Even if you weren’t working that day, everyone showed up to set everyday. When we finished, we’d all hang out. I remember putting on my McReynolds stuff and walking out with a little wig and going to a table that some of the guys were sitting at, and I felt myself walking differently. I was like, this is so weird, it doesn’t even feel like me anymore. I could not be any hairier or more confident. This looks good on me! I didn’t even have to ask.
Russell: I concur. Peacock city: population, you! Yeah, we had no choice but to really embrace it all. And with all the sets, the wigs, everything was just another layer. The music. It was kind of like an artistic Thanksgiving.
Linklater: For all that, I didn’t want the movie to call any attention to it. When you’re living in a period, you don’t realize it . . . I didn’t want the film to reflect on it ironically or otherwise, other than to just show exactly how it was.
While watching the movie, it feels like you know these guys from your own life, but you also can’t help thinking how different this would be in current times.
Linklater: Back then the drinking age was eighteen so practically every college student could go to a bar. Back then you’d have five guys driving around in a car singing Rapper’s Delight. A lot of the camaraderie comes out of sheer boredom. Group boredom. Ten minutes as we drive from here to there. Driving around and cranking the tunes.
Blake Jenner: As a guy, you had to do a lot of legwork back then. Now, I don’t think a young man would go to a girl’s dorm and leave flowers and a note on her door. I think it would be more like a quick Facebook poke.
Russell: You’d have to step up and like, buy her a cow on Farmville. That’s how I got my girlfriend.
The dancing in the film is almost a bigger part than the baseball in a way. Can you talk about dancing in the particular fashion for this time period?
Linklater: Disco was kind of on its last legs, as a commercial medium I think. It was wild to see these guys. It wasn’t choreography, it was dance lessons. It wasn’t going to be group dancing like you’re in something too elaborate. But it was pretty wild. That’s when I realized so much time had passed since that period. You know, you think in your own life, it wasn’t that long ago. But then I realized none of these guys had even been born back then.
Russell: It’s funny, when I was playing hockey in Europe, it felt like a weird version of going back to the 80s when you go to clubs. I think it would be fun to open up a kind of club like that right now. It really was fun because of the music and there really was more dancing.
Linklater: I would put it in the category of a kind of a mating ritual. Girls would ask the guys to dance. A mix and match kind of thing. And if you would keep dancing with someone, that was a good sign.