Not many times have I felt as blessed discussing cinema as I did in the long conversation I had with Evie Louise Thompson. Each one of the answers that the lead actress in one of the most brilliant scenes of Boyhood gave to my questions showed the vast passion she feels towards her profession and first love, cinema. Despite having worked with some of the most amazing actors in Hollywood such as James Franco, Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington or Halle Berry and been directed by great names such as Brad Anderson or Baltasar Kormákur, an artist for whom she feels deep admiration was the main topic we discussed, Richard Linklater. I invite you to take a closer look at Boyhood’s making-of, to get to know who Patricia Arquette truly is and to learn the importance of Linklater for the independent film industry, but above all I suggest that you meet every inch an artist: Evie Louise Thompson.
– Her scene
Q – Your scene marks the beginning of the second half of Boyhood. In the first half, the parents and specially the sister of Mason have been constantly on screen beside him, now Jill and the rest of his future friends will.
A – I think it was important to establish the brother sister relationship in the beginning. During childhood siblings are everything in a young person’s life. That’s why siblings are pieces of each other. A sibling is someone who knows everything you have been through and has basically experienced it all alongside you. There is a kind of bond with siblings that I think Linklater captures really well. But Mason starts growing up and part of that is finding yourself away from your family. In my opinion, that’s why it’s essential in the second half of the movie to move away a bit from family.
Q – Jill gives us a perfect definition of Mason’s academic universe, which allows us to follow his steps and remember how it felt like –unstable friendships, parties, teen books–. Later on, very quickly, she will be able to make him go to a party, guess if he has a girlfriend, give him one and wash her hands. A universal discovery (the opposite sex) for a universal moment. What does Jill represent?
A – I think you kind of said it. She represents one of his first interactions with the opposite sex. All of Linklater’s work have that effect on you, where it is so raw and honest you can feel how it felt that that time, the awkwardness of trying to figure out girls in middle school. Earlier Mason has just talked about having a girlfriend in which he has nothing to say to. We all remember that exact moment in our lives and how that felt. Linklater has a way of capturing that and triggering the audience to not only have a response that is intellectual, but spiritual as well. The spectator can feel in their soul that feeling and that’s what switches his work into the transcendence, into the surrealism. Jill, the older high schoolers, the teachers, the bosses, the friends, the girl friends, every character is essential because they are all provoking emotional responses from the audience through memories. Through a true connection to who that person was in their life; when they felt those same feelings.
– The making-of
Q – How did you get the role?
A – I was living in Texas at the time and I had just started acting. I drove to Austin for the audition. I went into the audition room, talked to Richard Linklater and Beth Sepko for a bit, did a little bit of improvisation and… voilà!
Q – Richard Linklater is know for being open to discuss the lines of his scripts with his actors in order to achieve the realism he fills his works with. Were you also given that chance?
A – We had meetings to discuss what would happen in our scene. I spent more time in these meetings about the scene than I did actually shooting it. Linklater asked me what was going on in my life, what I was interested in, and so on. I didn’t realize at the time, but now I realize how important this process was to capture that year and to capture every year. Therefore Linklater was able to really embody the truth of being in middle school. That is, in my opinion, one of his originalities that displays how he is able to make such raw art. His work is so honest and real, and that’s why it connects with and speaks to the audience to freely.
Q – How was the shooting of the scene?
A – I think we did around seven takes and it was all one shot. I remember I kept falling on the bike when I turned around at the very end. It was really embarrassing because I had bragged a lot about how awesome I was at riding bikes.
Q – Did you get to know Patricia Arquette or Ethan Hawke?
A – I met Patricia and I have never seen someone glow as that women does. She has this sort of angelic bubble around her, it’s crazy, almost unnatural.
Q – You shot your scene many years before finally watching it on the big screen. How was your experience watching the movie for the first time?
A – Sadly, I was not able to attend Sundance, but watching it I felt nostalgic just as anyone who watched it did. You didn’t need to be involved in that movie to be so affected by it, which is why it was so deeply engrossing to the audience. The first time I watched it I was sitting next to my mother and brother in a movie theatre and I will never forget my mother sobbing when it was time for Ellar to leave to college. It was the summer before I was leaving for NYU (New York University) and I will never forget the look in her eyes when she looked at me after the scene where Patricia asks if there is nothing left. It is such a great movie for families in that way. There is someone for everyone to relate to, being a parent, a sibling, a friend, a teacher, or anything. It also gives you a third person perspective on everyone else. Watching that film next to my mother, I could understand what she was going through in a more profound way than ever before. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Ellar and Lorelei.
Q – Maybe the hardest part of the life of the artist is to see how the project in which you have put your soul into ends up not having a response in the audience. No one could have predicted the success Boyhood finally enjoyed. Were you afraid that it wouldn’t get the proper answer from the public?
A – I feel so lucky to be able to be involved in even one scene of this film. I think Linklater is an absolutely influential artist of his generation; Cathleen Sutherland, the whole cast, the studio, and everyone who really believed in this film have my utmost admiration. This team was what made such an amazing idea actually work. They worked together, collaborating and creating and ultimately believed in something that is not really a financially secure production decision. I am taking some producing courses right now and the fact that they got funding is absolutely awesome, I mean you spend all this money and don’t see anything back for over a decade? These people were all in it because they believed in the art of it and it shows in what they created. It is a beautiful work of passion and love in so many ways.
Q – Do you have any (other) favorite scene in Boyhood?
A – I really loved when Ellar was leaving and Patricia was feeling so empty, I loved when Patricia broke down at the table in front of Lorelai after leaving the abusive man she was married to, and I loved the line “the moment seizes you”. But, I think it’s really tough to pick a favorite because there are ten more I could name right now.
– Richard Linklater
Q – Richard Linklater is one of the great independent movie directors, being able to awake the artistic instincts of all those who love cinema. Don’t you feel like taking a camera and start recording your family and friends after watching Boyhood?
A – I feel, especially with Linklater’s work, the independent genre is so inspiring because it takes away the “Hollywood” pressures and lets people be so original, the way that the art of film should be. Linklater’s work is so unique; when you watch one of his films it’s very apparent it is a ‘Linklater’ film. He uses his art to send a discuss a point of view. I don’t know if it’s intentional or if it’s just innate in every kind of inspired piece of work, but I think that is the way art should be done. His work inspires me to be my own artist. It inspires me to express myself through art. It inspired me so much I even took a dramatic writing course through my school this summer where I wrote my own script. I used parts of my life and the language that I used and it was so exciting.
Q – Could you explain why he is so important for the independent film industry in Texas and in the USA?
A – Linklater and Robert Rodríguez established studios away from Hollywood which enabled the low cost productions that are so essential to independent films. With productions that are more affordable there is more room for the artist to create without studio pressure.
– The present and the future of Evie Louise Thompson
Q – If you could choose any director and any city to shoot your next picture…
A – Being directed by Federico Fellini in Florence would be the dream, could someone teach me Italian and get a time machine?
Q – You have worked with James Franco and Emma Roberts in I Am Michael; Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington in 2 Guns; or Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin in The Call. Not bad… Could you tell us more about your past, present and future on the big screen?
A – I have been so lucky to work with and learn from some amazing directors, writers, producers, and actors. I am at NYU right now, improving my craft, to hopefully be able to add and participate in many productions to come. Well, I started with Boyhood?
Q – How is your daily life at NYU?
A – NYU Tish School of the Arts is an amazing school and I feel so extremely blessed to be able to attend. I am in the Meisner Studio for my acting training, so I have that class from 9 am to 6 pm three days a week, then the other days are academic. I am taking theatre studies courses along with producing. NYU also has some really cool classes like ‘The Science of Happiness’ and interesting stuff like that which I am so excited to experience as well. The teachers are so excited and motivated to inspire you and I am just really lucky.
Q – I’d like to finish this interview asking you why? Why acting and why cinema? Could you be doing anything else?
When I was young, as most kids in Texas, I was approached by a local talent agent and I said I had absolutely no interest. I had always loved doing theatre camps as a child, but the idea of being an actress repulsed me. There were so many horrible stereotypes around actors and I was six, so, to me, actors were the representation of superficiality. Yet, throughout growing up my favorite part of the year was summer because I got to go to theatre camp. But I never thought of it as a performance or something I did for people to come watch me. I loved the rehearsal, making up stories, also the performance and I just loved being on stage and getting lost in another world.
Around age 10 I was plucked out of one of those theatre camps to audition for this big show in Texas and I got it. From the moment I hit the stage as a working actor I started falling for the craft and the art of acting. It is a hole that I have fallen in and I will never ever escape. from. My love for acting goes beyond words. There is nothing I feel more alive doing. People always say “live in the moment…”. When I am acting, time doesn’t exist, every part of my being is satisfied and hungry at the same time. So no, I could never do anything else.
I think I find cinema especially intriguing because it s a different part, a different scene, and a different world all the time. Also there is something about a camera that I just really love. Also the feeling on set, everyone is working together to design the set, light the set, set up the shots, everything, it’s such a team effort. I love that.