Last Thursday, I got the chance to sit down with Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell and Quinton Johnson, the stars of “Everybody Wants Some!!” the latest ode to youth from Texas filmmaker Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”).
The film has been billed as a “spiritual sequel” to Linklater’s 1993 cult classic “Dazed and Confused,” but there wasn’t any pressure for “Everybody Wants Some!!” to live up to its big brother.
“If you try to be Matthew McCondaughey or Ben Affleck or Parker Posey … then you’re setting yourself up for failure,” Powell, who plays Finn, a veteran player who takes the awkward freshman under his wing said.
Russell, who plays senior transfer student Willoughby, added that “almost everything is a spiritual successor to everything [Linklater] does. When you go back and you watch all his movies there’s a through line in them that’s his mind.”
Much like “Dazed” however, many of the actors in “Everybody Wants Some!!” were behind the camera for the first time. Johnson, who plays eager freshman Dale, was studying musical theater at the University of Texas when he got cast in the film. It was his first project outside of student films, but it won’t be his last.
“When you work with someone like Richard Linklater and when he takes notice of you, other people notice that notice,” he said.
Johnson plans on taking that momentum and running with it, whether that means more films or going back to the stage.
“If I could be in 'Hamilton’ for the next 40 years I would do it,” he said.
The boys bickered back and forth for a minute about Johnson’s passion for “Hamilton,” showing me a Snapchat video of Johnson performing “Guns & Ships” from the musical much to the dismay of his castmates. As they tease and joke with each other, they fall into a rhythm similar to that of their characters.
“Everybody had about five percent of who they were in their character,” Russell said. “But we’re actors. Sometimes people forget that tapping into that part of your personality is something that is important for the character.”
The cast had much of the same chemistry on and off screen, due in large part to extended time spent in rehearsals at Linklater’s ranch.
“Most of the time you’re filming, people are meeting on day one. Rehearsal is such a luxury,” Powell said.
During rehearsals, the cast played baseball, read scripts, went to dance lessons and, of course, re-watched “Dazed and Confused.” Powell noted that the time spent together before shooting “allowed for a lot of collaboration and a lot of trust.”
Despite the unprecedented comradery and the abundance of party scenes in the film, the actors weren’t drinking as much Lone Star as their characters.
“You can’t get wasted and go do a scene. It doesn’t work," Russell said.
“I mean this is a job, we’re doing a job,” Johnson added. “But, when you get this kind of comradery together and you get someone like Richard Linklater … it’s nothing but fun.”
Despite the decades of separation, the college experience of the film felt very authentic to Powell.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” he said with a laugh.
The three said a lot of that authenticity can be attributed to collaboration between Linklater and the cast on scenes like a party at the baseball house.
“Rick (on the party stuff) really let us collaborate,” Powell said. “He was like OK … what were your favorite memories of college, what did you do in college, what did he do in college … and you start to realize that nothing’s really changed.”
They are glad some things have changed, however.
“You don’t see dudes wearing short shorts anymore,” Johnson said.
“Don’t bring that back. Nobody wants that,” Russell said. The boys all laughed in agreement.
But for them, the short shorts and mustaches aren’t really the takeaway from this movie.
“In college … there are paths that are open to you, and who are you going to become,” Powell said. “That’s the nature of being in college, you kind of think you know who you are, but you really don’t.”
“I think mistakes are the essence of life, you know,” he continued, a mantra that seems to ring especially true for this film. “A lot of the best things you see in this movie are outright mistakes.”
However, he also had a note of caution — make mistakes but put down your phone.
“In college, with these phones, mistakes aren’t really forgivable,” he said.
And Russell’s parting advice for college students, “No nudes, no nudes.”
Alright, alright, alright.