“Boyhood” director Richard Linklater admitted during an interview on Sunday that the first cut of the movie was actually thousands of hours long, but that he was able to get it down to just under three hours after cutting out the scenes of adolescent masturbation.
The movie follows the life and development of six-year-old Mason through a sometimes turbulent childhood until his freshman year of college. The film is unique in that it was shot intermittently during 12 years, with the same actors keeping their roles. The idea, says Linklater, was to capture the full range of the difficulties and wonders of growing up as a male in modern-day America. However, he ran into problems when he learned that as an adolescent, the lead actor developed a singular, mundane interest.
“Going into this project, Ellar [Coltrane] was just a normal kid, you know, so we were thinking how cool it would be to, like, shoot him for a few years while he’s squashing insects, playing with Hotwheels and coping his parents’ divorce and whatnot,” Linklater said after the BAFTA awards in London, where the movie received four prizes including best film. “And that worked well up until he was 12 or 13, but after that, all he did was jerk off.”
Sources say that hundreds of additional hours had to be cut from the character’s high school years, as Coltrane would spend literally every afternoon and entire weekends playing “World of Warcraft” in a darkened basement, which would make for an “honest but rather dull” cinematic experience.