“Everybody Wants Some!!” written and directed by Richard Linklater, is about a 1981 small Texas college town where most of the sports teams of the college suck, all but the baseball team. The team rules the campus and just about the whole town, living in two old houses off campus, where there are only two rules laid down by their coach; no girls upstairs and no alcohol. Needless to say that both rules will be broken within in a few hours of the house manager laying down the law. Into this environment walks freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner), a likable but sometimes too smart for his own good 18-year old who must quickly find his place in this new world of booze, manliness and baseball.
I had the honor of interviewing Tyler Hoechlin, Will Brittain and Blake Jenner before their appearance Saturday night at the Atlanta Film Fesitval. Blake Jenner plays Jake, the incoming freshman pitcher. Will Brittain plays Billy Autrey, a fellow freshman who is in a committed long distance relationship. Tyler Hoechlin plays McReynolds, one of the upper classmen on the team and a natural born leader on the field and off.
Mike: Welcome guys to Atlanta. You will enjoy the Atlanta Film Festival. The film is playing at the Plaza Theatre, which is the oldest continuous running movie theater in Atlanta. It’s a beautiful theatre, has great acoustics and was just recently remodeled, so it looks fantastic and sounds even better.
Tyler Hoechlin: Wow, looking forward to it.
So how excited were you when you signed up and found out the filming would go on for twelve years like Richard Linklater’s film “Boyhood?”
Tyler: I am honestly sad if that had been a choice. I wish it had been twelve years of our movie.
Will Brittain: Twelve years of filming our movie? I might be dead.
Too much partying?
Blake Jenner: Yeah, it would have been like 50 years of good times packed into those twelve years.
Tyler: Yeah, like twelve dog years.
Your characters seemed to live four years of college in just four days.
Blake: Yeah, we were ambitious college students.
Tyler: Blake didn’t get to go to college, so we gave him a pretty good idea what it was like.
Blake: Yeah, too much drinking, too much partying, and too much manscaping.
Did you guys do a lot of partying?
Will: We weren’t like partying too hard, but we did have some parties. We lived with Rick for two weeks, and that was like a party in itself. Overnight after rehearsals, we would be just chilling, rapping. We did a lot of freestyle rapping. We would throw out ideas for the script.
Blake: We were a low-key group. We weren’t the type to go out to a club and hit on girls. We were more like stay at home, drink beer and smoke cigarettes. Trading sports stories with each other.
Tyler: Yeah, the crazy partying was in the movie. Our kind of partying was playing in Rick’s arcade playing foosball and pool.
Will: Kind of like if you had a bunch of fourteen-year-olds partying with their dad’s beer, that’s what it was like.
Tyler: That was it!
You guys went out to Rick’s place in the country, right? You spent about three weeks there, working on the script and getting to know each other and running through scenes. What was that like because that’s very unusual for a movie to do that?
Blake: Yeah, to get that much rehearsal time.
Will: It was pretty magical. It was like a summer camp for a movie. That’s really what it was.
Tyler: Yeah, it really was. It was the most crucial part of making this film. Not only did we establish things by working on the script, but we also established the personal relationships that were important to the movie. We discover different dynamics that would come out; we would find new and interesting things the characters might do or say. We found out so much in those three weeks. For someone like me, that has directing aspirations, which is something that I am taking out of Rick’s playbook and applying it to anything I direct. We made the movie in those three weeks, and then we just had to go out and shoot it.
Blake: It’s important for actors to get that experience. When you audition for something and you get the part, you say “damn, now I have to really do this.” And then you join a movie, and you are excited and want to please the director. With what Rick does, it strips away the facade. You get rid of the fear of getting fired, or being good, or not being good. It brought us together and taught us. Rick sent us an email before we went out for those three weeks that told us how to behave, how he wanted us to get to know each other, and that would show up on the screen.
What was the audition process like?
Will: We started out by just an interview with the casting directors, asking about our college experience and telling funny antidotes about ourselves. It’s a tribute to the cast directors that it was so laid back and stress-free. It was so relaxing. From there, they want us to submit a baseballs skills tape to see if you were good enough to be in this movie. From there it was come read the script, then we picked which characters in the script we wanted to be cast for. It was so laid back the entire time; I didn’t know how intense it was. Even for the final moments of casting where I was up for two different roles, it never felt like it was cutthroat. Rick’s energy is so relaxed that I never felt it was an audition, It just thought I was having fun.
Tyler: I had the opposite experience. Mine started out really stressful and then became more relaxed. They initially weren’t going to see me, so we had to come up with a creative way to get them to consider me. I wrote Rick an email after I watched the documentary he did on Augie Garrido, the legendary University of Texas baseball coach. My manager sent that in and found out what they were doing in the interview process and I self-recorded mine and sent that in. Once I got into the interview process, I felt like I was meant to do this movie. I got into the door and now just had to bring it home. We have all talked about this, and it was a very collaborative process right from the beginning. I mean, they would give you some characters to look at, saying “of these six characters, which three would you rather play?” And that gave us input from the start on how you think you fit into the script. That was a really cool and interesting part of the process.
How much baseball practice did you guys do?
Tyler: Every day. Probably, at least, an hour every day.
Will: For me as an actor, I was looking at the whole thing, and I saw that by practicing baseball, we created a persona within all of us. We begin to form a swagger, getting comfortable with each other and forming a mutual respect for each other. So it wasn’t like we needed to work on baseball so much, but that act of going to baseball practice and being with each other made us a team.
Tyler: Yeah, as someone who played baseball in college, there is something that forms between the guys when you do any type of team sports practice. You are all investing you engird into something, and there is a common goal. There is a respect factor that comes in seeing how much the guys put into the work and sacrifice. If a guy is working hard, you can respect that. There is also a humility that goes with practice, asking for help with certain things. As much as it was to learn baseball, especially for the guys that haven’t every played, it was more about bringing out that social dynamic between the guys.
How did the free style rap scene during the credits come together, because it was fantastic?
Blake: First, having the song “Rapper’s Delight” in the film kind of spurred on things. Me, Will, J. Quinton Johnson would be free style all the time, with the rest of the guys surround us. We would be chugging beers and just hanging out. We would put on an instrumental rap beat and just go for it. And then Quinton came up with the idea to do one.
Will: We want to do a funny thing at the end of the movie.
Tyler: Well, it originally wasn’t for the end of the move.
Blake: Yeah, we were just going to do a YouTube video to promote the movie, kind of like the old Chicago Bears video, the “Superbowl Shuffle.”
Will: It was going to be a marketing thing. It was going to be about the team because we knew we had to sell the movie by selling us. Quinten made the beat and then as the movie went along, we all wrote our own lyrics. Then the last few days of shooting we filmed it.
Blake: We never thought it would make it into the movie.
Speaking of music, it’s such an important part of this film, setting the scenes for us. Did Rick have you listen to music to prepare for the movie?
Will: Yeah, that’s the first thing he did.
Tyler: He gave us a couple of CD’s with about fifty songs on them to listen to before we went to his ranch. Then once we got there, he gave some iPod Nanos that had all the music on it. He told us what he was into back during that time. He said that he didn’t actually like disco, but you would go because there were drink specials and girls. You would just kind of put up with it, although maybe you secretly liked some of it. He then had us go through the music and figure out what kind of music our characters would like. It gave us a nice creative space to operate in, allowing you to pick up some things that might give you a vibe about your character. And what was interesting was it was a very transitional time in music. There were so many specific genres of music starting up at that time. It was pretty crazy.
The dialogue in this film feels natural and flowing, especially in the scenes where the guys are just sitting around shooting the bull. Was any of the dialogue improvised or did you follow the script exactly?
Tyler: Every scene was work-shopped. When we were in the rehearsal process, every night we would go play in the arcade room, then watch a movie that Rick wanted us to see and then we would discuss the movie, with Rick explaining what he want us to take away from it. We would then go back to the bunkhouse and sit and talk. All our time was hanging out was either us b.s. each other as the characters or us, the actors talking about the script. There is a scene in the film that is a game called the “Manitoba Moose” that was based a conversation we had that was just silly and fun. That’s why those scenes seem really natural because we never stopped creating. Their ideas were always flowing, and no one wanted the day to end. We were always trying to find that next thing that would add to a scene.
Thanks for talking to us and enjoy the Atlanta Film Festival.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” opens in Atlanta on Friday, April 8th and nationwide on Friday, April 15th.
The Atlanta Film Festival runs through Sunday, April 10th. For more information and tickets go to www.atlantafilmfestival.com
For more of Mike’s interviews and reviews click here.