A 12-Year Project

Local actress Libby Villari talks about her experience working on the award-winning Texas film Boyhood, a unique recent release that was shot over the course of 12 years with the same actors.

| by Kacie Galloway |
Q: So how did you get involved with Boyhood?
A: Beth Sepko is probably the biggest casting director in Texas, and she knew my work and thought I would be the perfect person for the grandmother. And it happened that Ethan Hawke (who plays the father) was in town, so they called me down to Austin to audition with him in an improv scene. We jumped in and did the scene for 45 minutes before the director, Richard Linklater, said, “That’s what I needed to see.” And then I got cast.

Q: Boyhood is unique because no one has done something like it before. It was filmed over the course of 12 years so the actors would play the same characters, growing in real life and in the movie. What did you think about signing on to such a project?
A: As an actor, you are always looking for work, and this was a 12-year project! That’s what we called it actually: The 12-Year Project. If someone looked me up on IMDB, it just looked like I was working all the time! As it turned out, I was only in the first three years and the last year. Over the 12 years, we only filmed for 39 days, and I was in six. It’s amazing that they pulled the whole movie together in such a short length of time.

Q: With such an interesting filming schedule, did you get to develop good relationships with the cast and crew?
A: One of the great things about it was that I had already made several films with my crew, makeup artist and hairstylist. The camera crew knew me, and I make a point of getting to know the crew, their names and some of their history because, well, they’re the ones who make me look good! Or bad, as the case might be! But I reach out and make a point to build relationships. And that’s typical of filming in Austin; you do become a family when you make films together.

Q: Boyhood has received countless accolades already. How would you describe the film, and what, in your opinion, makes it so special?
A: I would describe it as remarkable. Watching Ellar (the titular boy) grow up became like watching family members go through life. There are no indications of what year or day it is. It just unfolds. And it happens so naturally that you don’t even realize it. That, to me, is the most remarkable thing.

Q: You say there was no script for the film. How did that work?
A: We would get together and rehearse a scene where we knew what would happen within it, and we just started in. And then Richard would tell us what he liked and some ideas of his, but he never told us what to say. So that’s a pretty remarkable way to work. While it’s challenging, it was a wonderful and welcome thing because I was so close to my character.