Everybody Wants Some!! Tyler Hoechlin, Will Brittain and Blake Jenner Come of Age on Richard Linklater’s Bromantic Throwback
Everybody Wants Some!!, Richard Linklater’s ode to brotherly love circa 1980 Southeast Teas State University, is a sex comedy, rite of passage, gentle love story and a movie that tries to get at the core of both bromance and romance about what it means to be young.
Billed as a “spiritual sequel” to Linklater’s 1993 cult classic Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! leisurely counts down the last days of summer as the university’s baseball team is preoccupied with the usual jock predilections—girls, partying, competing, girls, partying…you get the idea.
But that’s not quite what Everybody Wants Some!! is after in its observance of young manhood in an era on the cusp of significant change, and with a solid, charismatic cast including Tyler Hoechlin, Will Brittain and lead Blake Jenner as the sensitive new guy on the block, Linklater gives his handsome cast latitude—as in each of his pictures—to explore and shape their characters, finding moments of truth while the good times roll.
I caught up with Hoechlin, Brittain and Jenner recently to discuss the film’s special dynamic—the cast has become quite good friends offscreen—that created their strong camaraderie, how that was born onset and their deep admiration for this passion project and its creator.
Everybody Wants Some is a curious movie because it looks and feels like a teen film in some regards, but it is actually much more observant.
Will Brittain: When I read the script I had never read anything like it. It wasn’t structured from scene to scene. You felt like you were reading a short story with all of these characters all over the place. It is hard to read a script with twelve guys in a scene at the same time, trying to keep track of what somebody has just said. There were so many one-liners.
Blake Jenner: When I read the script I knew it was the shit. My Sharona sold me on it during that opening scene with the car driving downtown. I knew there was no way that song could be changed.
WB: We were stoked about that!
What do you think about 80’s culture? I know you went through an immersion prior to shooting.
WB: I like 80’s music better than today’s, except for the rap. Rap is better now.
I think the first pop rap was in the 80s, which was Rapture by Blondie.
BJ: Yes, right! My older brothers and cousins grew up in the 80s so they shared all of their He-Man knowledge upon me. But my deepest connection was VH-1’s I Love the 80s.
Looking back, the 80s gave us so many music legends like Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2 and others. Culturally there was a renaissance, even though much of the style and form are dismissed today.
Tyler Hoechlin: It felt like it was a time when things were shifting and there were new ideas and identities that were taking over, and it I know it was a great time to be alive that has a lot to do with how we grew as a culture and who we are now, as Rick (Linklater) would tell us.
The movie nicely explores the idea of opening up to a new world when you go away to college. Did that resonate with any of you?
TH: For me, yes. You grew up in a town with similar beliefs and then going off to school you meet someone from the other side of the country or different place in the world. They have different ideas and views of life and what the world is because of where they were raised. It’s eye opening. I think there is a piece of that in this one as well.
Do you remember what was special about your own experience?
TH: Yeah, I would say meeting others from different backgrounds and views and getting to live with those people as roommates and having real conversations about those things. It was getting up, having breakfast, going to class and coming back together each day, and that made for interesting and ongoing conversations where you actually get to know each other and bestow new ideas and opening your minds to the world.
WB: For me, I’ve grown continually more open. But we do a unique profession that requires you to be more empathetic and open to people and cultures. But my freshman year in college was much the same. I think Rick also did a great job with the sense of girls. I came from a small town and the towns around it were also small, so you kind of new who all the hot girls were. Then you went to college and there were so many girls! And you got to meet them and talk to them and see what their ideas were.
Blake, you wanted to be an actor from a very young age. I understand you used to write stories when you were about nine years old.
BJ: Yes, in 4th grade. Some would write about a new bike, and I would go off and write weird, terrible short stories.
BJ: Aliens or something! But I would go up in front of the class and start voicing these characters and make people laugh, and that was kind of a hook for me. From then on, my mom put me in theater classes and I took drama in middle and high school and then after graduation I went straights to LA.
Tyler, you have a passion for baseball. Is acting a detour?
TH: Yeah, but I have been doing both my whole life. I started paying baseball before I can remember and acting when I was nine, so I’m going on twenty years now. I have been balancing both for a long time and making both work. Baseball you only have a limited window and you can’t leave and come back to it. While acting, I would stay as involved in baseball as I could, and once that window was over I decided to make acting my only commitment.
What about you, Will?
WB: I grew up playing football. I thought I loved football, and I do. But what I loved more than football was the act of playing it in front of people and the adrenaline I got from performing and being out there on the field, which especially in Texas feels like a gladiator arena. I played middle linebacker, so I was always calling out plays. When I was sixteen I did my first play, and when I walked out on the stage in front of the audience I felt that amazing rush. It was never going to happen with football because I am 5’8, 160 pounds. Then I realized I was good at acting and passionate about it, and from there it kept going. I fell in love with it.
What are your thoughts on the business you are currently in? Certainly it is competitive. Are you more interested in pictures like this one, or is there a desire to be a part of, for example, the Marvel universe?
TH: This was the most rewarding and enjoyable experience I have ever had. I think there are things to be said about certain movies that are fun, and there is a time for that as well. And I don’t want to limit myself to think that there are only specific types of things I want to do. But I would say this is probably one of the most rewarding experiences, getting to work as a team on something that is about the characters. What I enjoy the most is where the focus is on the characters; those are the most interesting projects. I think meeting new people and getting to talk to people about what has affected them about the characters is the most gratifying.
WB: This business is so competitive. I’ve only been in it three years so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I think it is growing more and competitive. But at the end of the day I want to be able to love what I am doing and be proud of it, and have the people I care about feel the same. That’s the barometer for me, as long as I am having a good time and doing something that means something to me.
BJ: I feel the same way. Obviously we all have goals, but on that vision board in your mind you should just be having fun. And learning, too. It never stops. Even the most amazing actors are still testing themselves and taking classes. Always learning and always improving at acting is never done.
What did you learn from Mr. Linklater?
TH: Surround yourself with good people and trust them and never be afraid to explore. He had this script and said to us, ‘Let’s tear it apart and put it back together—and find it together.’ It was about taking any ego out of it. That is such an amazing thing. That is invaluable, especially in a movie like this which allowed us to open up doors to play with ideas. Right and wrong were words that were never used on set. As an actor, we were free to fail, which is really important.
BJ: I think we all learned a million things by watching him work, but I think if we ever get the opportunity to direct something that we write, more or less we have the sense of what tools to take with us. You look for someone who has the spirit of what you created on the page, but you let them bring themselves to it so that it is second language to them,. Once you are on the set there are no surprises and everyone is going to be living together. It’s all collaboration. It was a very eye-opening process.
WB: I think I learned the value in putting together a group of people on all sides of things that are good to be around and enjoy being around each other. At the end of the day, the scene that I shot with Blake was probably the most fun acting I have ever had. And we were in it—we were pissed at each other! We were at each others’ throats. I remember after, telling him, ‘Dude that was incredible.’
The scene at the bedroom door, right?
WB: Yes, just Blake and I. It was about six o’clock on a Wednesday and cold as hell; raining outside. I came downstairs and saw Tyler and all the rest of the guys sitting around a monitor watching our scene, when they could have gone home four hours earlier. But they stayed, because they are that supportive. The ability to create an environment like that was amazing. It felt like, ‘Wow, this is what it is about.’
BD: We went through everything together.
TH: It was like baseball. You know you are not pitching on a particular day, but you still show up. This is the team. The team is here and we are going to be here. It was an amazing environment.
I’m sure you also wanted to absorb every moment around your director also.
TH: Oh, yeah!
Does art imitate life here? How close are you to your characters?
TH: Our co-star Wyatt Russell said a great thing, which was that we basically took 5% of ourselves and played it to 100%. I know where McReynolds lives in me—any time I play any competitive thing in the world! But there are a lot of things about him that I am not at all. Sometimes at the end of the scene I would quickly check out of him because he was so not me. But it’s fun to allow yourself to live in that because you let the idea of the guy take over.
WB: At the time we were filming I had just gotten married. I think that part of Billy Autrey is definitely a part of me. I’ve always been a girlfriend guy and now I’m a wife guy. And I don’t take shit off people and neither does he. But other than that I am pretty distant from him.
BJ: For me, I did not go to college so there is a part of me that has that void due to not having that experience, and I tapped into that because there was a part of me that was so curious about that experience. So I played with that part of myself.
In the last half hour you have some nice relationship scenes with Zoey Deutsch.
BJ: Yes. I didn’t really tap into anything for those, but I felt like we were just behaving and still getting to know each other. It worked. We were going through the same things on set, as friends of course, that they were going through.
There’s a low-key moment where you are watching her get dressed that was very appealing.
WB: Oh, yeah! I love that scene. I was sitting with my wife watching that and we teared up a little bit. We met in college and there were so many nights like that where I’d pulled an all-nighter and was watching her get dressed like that.
BJ: I will say that I know what it’s like meeting a girl that is not into what you are into but you find common ground and get to know about each other. I brought that little part.
What the best part about your jobs?
TH: The Craft services! I would say getting to work on a movie like this, back to what you said earlier. Working with people who love the project they are working on. Not one person on this set was there for a paycheck. Everyone who was there believed in and loved this movie. I think that is the best part. When you get on a set where no one wants to go home or wrap early is the greatest thing. Some people you work with and never talk to again. With this group, we have a text chain that goes off daily. So I think to have those lasting relationships is the best part.
BJ: I totally agree. Some might look at us and think we are crazy for being actors. It’s like freelancing life. It’s the best and worst thing. For something like this, it’s the best. When I moved out to LA. I was auditioning for Best Buy commercials I would get cut from. But then I get this! The surprises and learning experiences creep up on you.
WB: All of that and having the freedom to step inside someone else’s shoes is fun. All little kids start off playing make-believe, and then someone tells them it isn’t what they should be doing with their time. And thankfully we have managed to preserve that little bit of life.
Do you enjoy the fan interaction?
WB: I enjoy that fans are excited to meet us because that means we did our jobs well.
TH: I enjoy the interactions like, ‘We saw the movie and your character made me feel this way or reminded me of this.’ I enjoy connecting with people about something in life that meant something related to the character. I love the interaction of someone saying, ‘You made me feel a certain way, or this character helped me get through this.’
BJ: Yes! It’s really nice to get somebody that relate to it. The majority of people who are hitting me up over this one are the older people, but I’m really excited to connect with the younger people in it as well, and I know they will be connecting on a human level.
WB: It’s so nice with a movie like this that where you genuinely cannot wait for the people you know and love to see it. That doesn’t always happen. This is one of those occasions where you want to know what everybody you know thought about it.
Does it matter to you what press thinks about projects you have completed?
WB: I read the reviews because I want to know how we are doing. I am not ashamed to say I think Everybody Wants Some is one of the best comedies ever made. I just like to check in and see if the press is in alignment with that, and so far it has been so it’s very exciting. It’s cool.
TH: It’s interesting. The same way you can’t put too much stock into a negative review, you can’t put too much into a positive review and ignore the negative ones. I think I might tend to do that! You listen to the good things, but the bad things go in one ear and out the other. If you don’t have that mindset, you will tear yourself up. At the end of the day it was the first time I was a part of something as an adult where it was done, we saw it and I was so proud of it. I want people to go see it because I knew they will enjoy the hell out of it. The experience was incredible.
BJ: With reviews, like with anything, you just have to take it with a grain of salt, whether it is good or bad, and stay in a balanced state. You just have to remember that you are human, the reviewers are human and we all have our opinions and experiences. What matters is that we had an amazing time doing it, learning from it and a time with each other now. We truly got the gift of the actual brotherhood—not just the one you see onscreen, but the one we live in real life.