Celebrated auteur Richard Linklater returns to the big screen and his own roots with Everybody Wants Some — a slice of life adventure set in the 80s that follows the carousing members of a college baseball team in the three days before classes start. The film features many of Linklater’s most often employed tactics — sensational dialogue, an exceptional soundtrack, a measured understanding of nostalgia — and manages to act as a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, without leaning too heavily on the cult favorite.
Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell and Quinton Johnson, three of the film’s sprawling ensemble cast, hit the road to discuss Everybody Wants Some with the press and make some memories with fans. In an interview at Denver’s Four Seasons, the trio discussed what it was like to work with a legendary director and the atmosphere that enables the creation of a film that lives and dies by characters and conversation.
Powell, who plays the smooth-talking and experienced Finnegan recalled the memorable experience he, Russell and Johnson had visiting Delta Gamma sorority in Boulder, Colorado. “We roll up … with a bunch of pizzas to a bunch of screaming girls, probably like 80 to 100 … all doing this chant.” When the initial hubbub died down, the fellas played a Bachelor-esque game with the Delta Gammas — an affair that included roses and even Johnson singing a narration of Powell’s actions. “It was a great time,” Powell said.
If you get the sense from the description of this interlude that these guys have a great time together, you’re not wrong. The chemistry between them was that of friends, causally swapping stories of time spent together. And that, it seems, is nothing so much as the result of the atmosphere that Linklater created for his cast. Even before shooting started, Linklater brought his cast together to bond and rehearse. To create the relationships that he certainly knew must carry the film.
The outcome of this effort is perhaps best exemplified by the trio’s exchange about the experience:
GP: We went to Rich’s farm outside of Austin — he likes it when we call it a farm.
QJ: If you ask Rich, it’s definitely a farm.
WR: It’s definitely a farm.
GP: What does he grow there, if it’s a farm?
WR: He grows beans and stuff, they’re awesome.
QJ: Really?! [laughs] I didn’t see one f**king bean the whole time.
WR: We had them!
WR: He gave us some of his beans that he had pickled and jarred over a year ago. They were incredible.
Russell elaborated more fully on the time spent before shooting started. “We stayed three weeks in a big house on the property, rehearsed, got to be friends, swam, sang, danced, played ping pong, played Foosball, did everything you could ever have fun doing for three weeks and rehearsed and got it all nailed down before we went. …We were pretty prepared as legitimate friends in this experience, I think that’s what he wanted to come across.”
It seems that what stuck most with all three actors coming out of the shoot was the experience of working with Richard Linklater. The opinion that Linklater creates the most relaxed, loose, fun set was unanimous. Linklater is a man who still believes in working with his cast. Johnson said that Linklater encourages ideation and experimentation in the search for “the greatest hits” which ultimately end up in the film.
Powell expanded on this sentiment. “It creates an atmosphere of play so all we’re doing in this movie is like what they [our characters] call ‘f**kwithery.’ We’re just messing around. If you create an atmosphere where you can’t screw up or there are no mistakes, where you can dare to suck, then you win.”
For his part, Russell thinks this approach goes back to Linklater’s goals as a director. “With Rick it’s about the life and you see life on screen. … I don’t think you see a bunch of guys acting, I think you see a bunch of guys living together and being friends together. I think that’s the magic of the movie. I think there’s like a spell where you actually get sent back to 1980s with these guys. I think if we were just trying to say the words on script, I don’t know if it would have been the same.
In addition to the time the cast spend actually getting to know one another and bonding, they also spent time exploring their characters. Costumes are always essential in selling a period piece, but especially so in a near-past period piece where viewers have living memories of the fashions of the day. The characters in Everybody Wants Some were styled, in part, by the actors portraying them.
“It was fun, they set up a wardrobe closet for us that was probably about as big as this [conference] room. You just went in and picked what you thought your character would wear so you got 10, 12 outfits,” Russell explained. “I think for a lot of guys, it sort of informed who you were as a discovery space of maybe my character would like this … It was really great to be able to do that. That’s just more a part of Rick’s creative style, giving you creative licence in a way that still is in between the guidelines of what he set up. You’re not coming off the rails, but setting it up before you start shooting.”
And indeed, Linklater spent plenty of time getting to know his cast and making them feel comfortable. “Rick is from a different planet,” Johnson said, “He’s the Mayor of Awesome, he’s an iconic filmmaker, but you sit down with him and you’re watching movies with him at his house and he never makes you feel like he’s this iconic presence. He’s just a guy telling stories that he cares about. That’s awesome.”
It is perhaps this outlook that enabled Linklater to take the pressure of the cast when it came to the task of making the spiritual sequel to his most iconic film.
“I think Rick purposefully made no mention during the whole process of Dazed and Confused because we’re making our thing,” Powell said. “You don’t want anyone doing a Wooderson impression. I think that’s what we did. I think we were all working for the same goal and not trying to emulate the magic of a different movie we were trying to create our own magic.”
Russell added that everything about Everybody Wants Some had to feel like it could exist in it’s own space. “Rick’s movies, because they’re slice of life movies, and not all the time plot driven — it’s very hard to recreate something and catch what you caught because Rick’s whole philosophy is ‘life sort of happens when you’re busy making other plans’ and finding those moments are all organic and unique. Capturing that again would … go completely against … I think what his goal is as a filmmaker.”
And speaking of capturing experiences, the trio urged viewers to grab some friends and see the film in a theater.
“I really don’t know if we could have had a better time making this movie. I don’t think you could have a better time watching this movie. I think tell everyone you know, get into theaters because it’s also a group experience,” Powell said. “Watching this movie, you feel everything.”
“It’s a shared experience,” Russell added. “Yeah and Rick, he’s such a filmmaker that his movies — I have a strong belief that there’s nothing more powerful than going to a place to see something with a stranger having the same experience.”
Everybody Wants Some is now playing in select theaters around the country.