I am Ellar Coltrane. I spent the past 12 years of my life filming a movie in Texas called Boyhood that was directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed & Confused, Waking Life, School of Rock, the Before trilogy). Over the course of the production, I grew 27 inches and had around 72 haircuts. I literally grew up on screen.

Boyhood is now playing in theaters and also stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette – here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0oX0xiwOv8&feature

Victoria from reddit's helping me get started. AMA!


Hey everyone! Thanks for all the great questions. I gotta split but I'll be back! Go see Boyhood in theaters!

Comments: 528 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

petrocs513 karma

Ellar, Was the young woman you meet at the end the same Nicole that passed you the note in class at an early age? Ive seen the movie several times and there's a similarity

Thanks for answering

EllarColtrane481 karma

Congrats on noticing that! I don't if it's the same girl, but definitely an easter egg

Taikomochi331 karma

Hello and thanks for doing the AMA!

Growing up, how did working on the film interact with your social life? Were you open to your friends about working on this film? Would you just occasionally be busy for a few weeks, telling them, “sorry, just working with an Oscar-nominated director”? Did they even know who Richard Linklater was?

EllarColtrane540 karma

It really depended, all of my close friends were aware, but it's hard to really think much about a movie that won't be out for a decade. I eventually stopped really telling people about it unless I needed to, because it is hard to really explain in a concise way and occasionally someone would get REALLY excited and suddenly want to be my friend

cultmovie249 karma

Is Adulthood next? Age 18-30? Would you be interested in doing this again?

EllarColtrane313 karma

no real comment, but i think it's a great way to tell a story and a rewarding way to work, wether it's a continuation of this or another story entirely

detectivemonk230 karma

Is there an aspect of growing up that you wish was included in Boyhood? Also, what is Ethan Hawke's secret to not aging?

EllarColtrane440 karma

The only thing that comes to mind is that I definitely had a mean streak as a kid, althoughI'm not sure I wish that were up there

love and no cigarettes

EllarColtrane185 karma

Thanks everyone, I've gotta get off the computer now.

heyareyouthatguy178 karma

Hey Ellar! Absolutely loved Boyhood! After the credits rolled, not only did it make me reflect on the lives and journey of the characters in the movie, but it also made me reflect on my own life. I was surprised at just how emotionally involved I had become and the feeling stayed with me for days after. My question for you is, what was your initial reaction after watching the film for the first time? Did it affect you in a similar way? Thanks for doing this AMA and I hope to see you in another role soon!

EllarColtrane330 karma

I saw it for the first time 8 months ago, I've seen it 8 more times since then and I am still recovering.

sirfred1169 karma

Hey man. This movie was pretty much parallel to my growing up. We’re the same age so literally from Drangonball Z and the Harry Potter book premier to the shitty end of high school relationship. I’m also from Houston and live in Austin now for school, so that added even more. I’m a huge fan of Linklater’s movies and the Austin Film Society and all that. I’m sure he’s given out some great pieces of life advise or wisdom to you over the years, is there anything in particular that really struck a cord? and congrats on the film, it’s awesome.

EllarColtrane134 karma

Just the whole experience, he taught me how to collaborate and the beauty of throwing myself into creation

DjoeyUnchained96 karma

In your opinion, what's next for Mason?

EllarColtrane401 karma


DjoeyUnchained95 karma

Hi Ellar,

I just wanted to tell you what a profound effect 'Boyhood' has has on me. This year, I turned 18 and finished school. I go to university in September.

I felt such a connection with the character of Mason and was moved in a way I don't think I have ever been by film, at least not recently. The final mother-to-son monologue brought me to tears.

When I returned home from the cinema I felt a strange sense of release, as though all the anxieties I had been habouring about the future had evaporated. Your unique film really put things into perspective.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you, and Richard, Patricia, Ethan - everyone involved - for partaking in this cinematic landmark that has managed to bring a sense of clarity to my life.

My question is, as you worked closely with Arquette and Hawke during your formative years, do you feel as though your relationship with them is similar to that between and child and a parent?

EllarColtrane98 karma

Thank you so much, I'm glad we could help.

More like existential teachers

TheCourtJesterLives94 karma

Hi Ellar, Saw the movie this weekend and thought it was awesome. How long did filming take each year? Was it hard to get back into character or were you pretty much being yourself on screen?

EllarColtrane194 karma

We filmed for about 3-4 days each year, with a week or so of rehearsal and a workshop process beforehand to build the scenes, characters and dialogue. So while there are many parts of myself that I used to create Mason he is a very much a fiction, but one that I helped to create so it never felt like getting into character by the time we were shooting.

kneeco2882 karma

Hi Ellar,

I loved the movie and the more time passes and the more I think about it, the more I like it and more I respect what you all put together. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be part of that process and in fact to grow up as part of it.

Three questions:

1) My understanding is that the movie was written in segments, for each year; rather than being plotted from the get-go. My question is was the movie edited in segments or edited altogether after filming was done? When year 1 was edited, in other words, did the team already know what happens in year 2-12?

2) When preparing later years, did you go back and watch/read the earlier years to prepare or were you working off memory of what had occurred?

3) I envision conversations you had with other kids in school 5-10 years ago, something like: "I'm in a movie with Ethan Hawk!" "Cool, when does it come out?" "...uh... 2014." What was it like waiting for this to come out?

EllarColtrane117 karma

1- it was edited as they went along and re-edited as needed.

2- i never saw any of it until the finished product

3- You know I never thought about that much, the joy was in getting to work on a project like this

Erasmus-Skywalker76 karma

What is your favourite film of all time?

EllarColtrane422 karma

A concrete answer by no means, but what came to mind is Spirited Away

EllarColtrane308 karma

Fargo Big lebowski O'Brother where art thou

EllarColtrane143 karma

Harold and Maude

EllarColtrane120 karma


angelfromthecoast30 karma

Such a great film! Kind of related, but what is your opinion of Wes Anderson?

EllarColtrane131 karma

He's a great filmmaker and artist, my favorite of his is Royal Tenenbaums though I like all of them

BlookerG65 karma

Have you seen any of Richard Linklater's other works? If so, what's your favourite?

EllarColtrane161 karma

I have seen them all, except the before trilogy (which I have waiting at home) Waking Life has and probably always will be my favorite of his and just one of my favorite films

DoctorParnassus52 karma

Hey, Ellar, do you have an approximate guess on how much footage was shot for this film? Also, are there any scenes you wanted in the theatrical release that didn't make it?

EllarColtrane83 karma

I don't think there is a whole lot more than what is on the screen

rbsh12342 karma

Hey Ellar! Being someone who is very soon leaving for college, I can't even express how much this film related to me.

My question is, based on what you learned as BOTH Mason and yourself, what advice could you give to someone in my position who is genuinely incredibly scared and nervous for what the future holds?

Thanks for the unforgettable ride!

EllarColtrane90 karma

Everything you are looking for is all around you, and exercise !

filip121237 karma

Hey, Ellar! I loved your movie! And since we'll probably never get a sequel: where do you see yourself in 10 years from now? Are you (still) interested in film/film-making after working 12 years on Boyhood?

EllarColtrane105 karma

I want to do it all... and grow food.

glignox36 karma

Thanks for doing this, Ellar, I absolutely adored Boyhood. I’ve heard you’re not so sure about acting again, but is there a certain actor, director, etc. that you’d definitely work with given the opportunity? Also, loved how your character was seen playing video games from time to time. When I saw you playing Halo 2 with your stepbrother I instantly got a nostalgic rush. So, do you yourself actually play or use to play games? If so, what did you like to play? I gotta know, haha.

EllarColtrane82 karma

I did play Halo a lot, and bioshock and grand theft auto. I played a lot of games....

I absolutely adore the films of the Cohen Brothers, so that's a dream

Erasmus-Skywalker30 karma

Ellar, if this movie taught me anything, it taught me to value life and those around me. What impact did this film have on you the first time you watched the finished film?

EllarColtrane76 karma

very much the same, it was brutal the first time. But this whole experience has shown me how precious all of life is and how easy it is to become distracted.

cc36630 karma

Do you still plan on living in Austin?

Hope you keep acting, man.

EllarColtrane59 karma

it's home...

EvilLeprechaun1324 karma

Hello there! In the film, Mason loved the Harry Potter books. What are your favorite novels either growing up or now?

EllarColtrane98 karma

My favorite book as a child was the boy and the samurai and the narnia books

Right now i'm totally smitten with infinite jest

catttdog24 karma

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?

EllarColtrane76 karma

I don't think I could, but I'll pay better attention next time

sm2317 karma

Hi Ellar, let me say first off that I reeeeally enjoyed Boyhood -- obviously. Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise trilogy have been a favourite of mine for many years so when I heard about the film I couldn't wait to see it. I was wondering what some of your own favourite films are? Also, when would you say it was during filming that you became fully aware of what it was that you were creating? Thanks! Keep up the wonderful acting.

EllarColtrane36 karma

See the other favorite movie question

Honestly i'm still figuring out what we've created

megamoviecritic11 karma

Hey Ellar!

Loved Boyhood and I really enjoyed your performance. It must have been a great experience learning from such talented people like Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette over such a long time. What was it like continuing and adapting your performance over the years of the shoot?

Also, what kind of roles do you see yourself going for in the future? Do you have anything lined up that you can tell us about?


EllarColtrane27 karma

Nothing exactly to talk about yet, but I want to express humanity..... and freak out

popwar411211 karma

First off, I just need to say I am amazed with this film. One of my favorites right from my first viewing. Great job by Linklater and cast (obviously you included!!) But my question is how aware of the idea of this project were you as a child? Were you aware 12 years of work were going into it... etc

EllarColtrane19 karma

I wish i remembered!