Ellar Coltrane, star of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, spent 12 years filming the movie, essentially growing up on camera.

Coltrane was six-years-old when filming of Boyhood began, and every summer for 12 years he would reunite with Linklater and his castmates to continue making the film. Now 19, Coltrane is busy promoting the film, which also stars Ethan Hawke – a Linklater regular (Before Sunrise) – and Patricia Arquette.

Who Is Ellar Coltrane?

In the film, Coltrane plays Mason Jr. from ages 6 to 18, and the audience sees Coltrane grow and mature in real time. Cast at a young age, Coltrane said that he began work on Boyhood as just a child actor, but became a collaborator as he grew older.

“When you’re young, you’re kind of just along for the ride, I guess. But over time, we became more of partners creating something,” Coltrane told People.

Raised by artists, Coltrane says he was always encouraged to be creative, which eventually led to Boyhood.

“I was raised to be some kind of artist. Even before we started filming, I was being pushed to create something,” he said in an interview with EW.

Now that filming Boyhood has finally come to an end, Coltrane says he isn’t in a rush to move to L.A. and become an actor. In fact, Coltrane isn’t sure whether he wants to act at all.

“This makes me want to make art. Whatever that is, if acting can be an outlet to that then absolutely,” Coltrane told EW.

Like his character in Boyhood, Coltrane has developed a passion for photography and looks forward to staying in Texas and going to college.

“I don’t really see myself leaving home anytime soon, really. I want to go to [college], so I guess that is next. I’m interested in all kinds of art. But I’ve got to figure out what to do after that,” Coltrane told People.

How Much Of Coltrane's Life Is In Boyhood?

While both he and Linklater are quick to dispel the notion that Mason is fully based on Coltrane, the young actor admits that quite a bit of Mason and his story-lines were inspired by his own life. Linklater wanted the film to be as organic and true to life as possible, so he asked Coltrane to try to make notes of certain life events, like a first date.

“I mean, a lot of times he would even give me kind of assignments to sort of be thinking about and even taking notes on things that happened in my life to then use that material to, you know, supplement the character,” Coltrane told NPR.

Sometimes the events would be mirrored in Mason’s journey on film, other times not. For example, Coltrane told NPR that his character Mason got a girlfriend after he himself had his first girlfriend in real life.

Of course, there were a few things Coltrane had to do specifically for production, like film in a real classroom, which he was not used to in his day-to-day life – Coltrane was homeschooled.

Coltrane even had to get his driver’s license for the role and revealed to EW that the art director taught him how to drive.

Looking back on the making of the film, Coltrane said he never once wanted to stop participating, and that the film will always be a huge part of his identity.

“I mean, it’s a very large part of who I am. I mean, you know, having this very long-term and very focused, like, guided kind of outlet to throw myself into art and the creation of something was a really incredible therapeutic thing to have – especially as a teenager. I feel like it kind of showed me what I want to do with my life,” Coltrane told NPR.


More on Boyhood:

> 'Boyhood' Review: A Bold But Unsatisfactory Coming-Of-Age Film

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