Ellar Coltrane, 20, was the kid who grew up on the big screen in Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking movie “Boyhood,” which was filmed over a 12-year period, and released in 2014, starring Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. Coltrane, an Austin, Tex., native, was six years old at the start, and 18 by the time it ended, and audiences watched his character Mason come of age as the child of working class, divorced parents in Texas. There’s already talk of a sequel that will revolve around Mason at college, but that’s just one of the projects on Coltrane’s plate. WWD caught up with the actor in Milan, where he attended Fendi’s men’s show on Monday evening. Here, he talks about films, farming and comfortable clothing.
WWD: You didn’t see the movie until it was finished. What was it like to see your younger self on screen?
Ellar Coltrane: It was incredibly surreal. You always kind of wonder how you’re changing over time, and there was something very remarkable, tender about it. It’s gotten easier, but it was very emotional the first several times I watched. It was just a lot to take in, growing up, leaving parts of yourself behind. Even though it’s not me, it’s physically me. And, of course, there are my memories of making the film. It was very nostalgic.
WWD: You were a child actor for 12 years — most of your life. Looking back now, how do you view that experience?
E.C.: I think if the movie had come out when I was 10, it would have been a different story. But I got to learn how to act, and how to collaborate on a story — and I didn’t have to deal with all of the exposure. It was still hard, but I was definitely more prepared than I would have been if I were younger. You know, Ethan [Hawke] was 13 when his first movie came out, and I know that was hard.
WWD: I know a sequel to the film has been mooted, but what else are you working on in the meantime?
E.C.: There are a couple of indie projects I’m working on, just with a good friend, Kevin Ford, who’s a writer and a director, although I’m not sure when all of that is going to be happening. One is sort of like romance, a nonsexual romance, and about the value of friendship.
WWD: Where are you going to be filming?
E.C.: I think downtown Los Angeles. I guess that’s kind of part of the story as well, an interesting backdrop — the decay of L.A. downtown — there are all of the relics of Thirties and Forties Hollywood. That world has fallen apart, but there’s this whole other culture and eco-system that’s taking its place.
WWD: What are you doing when you’re not acting?
E.C.: I like the outdoors. I’m about to move out into the country, so that will be a nice escape. I have some property outside of Austin and I would like to build a house. But what I’m really interested in aside from acting, art, photography, painting, filmmaking and writing is environmental science farming. Growing food is very important, and that’s what I want to do with my life. If I can make money from this side, I’m going to use it and invest it in sustainable farming and living. There’s a big sustainability movement in Texas, and I’d like to be a part of that. I saw this movie “The Salt of the Earth” about Sebastião Salgado, the fantastic photographer who planted a forest of two million trees over the last 15 years. Very inspiring.
WWD: How do you like to dress?
E.C.: My jeans are Nudie, and the shoes are Soft Star — and very comfortable. When I’m buying my own things, I try to buy things not made in sweatshops. That’s the only thing. Other than that, I like comfort and dark colors.
WWD: Talk to me about your nose piercing.
E.C.: I used to have one earring, and there is just something nice about having it right in the middle, symmetrical. It was also a very exciting feeling. It’s sort of like acupuncture. It hurts, but it also wakes up your energy passages. But they are also just very popular. So many of my friends have them. Almost everyone I know has one.