Sitting down with Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin and Will Brittain, it’s easy to see just how a movie like Everybody Wants Some!! could work. Right from the time they literally step through the door, you can see the personalities that made each of them great fits for the film. You can also see the sense of camaraderie between the guys along with the chemistry that’s witnessed in the film itself. During our interview, they touched on that along with a plethora of other things pertaining to sports, film and the futures of their young careers.
Cinematic Essential: Are you guys ready to be part of that Dazed and Confused cult?
Will Brittain: It definitely had a buzz amongst us like “This is gonna change out lives.” It’s Richard Linklater, it’s going to change your life.
Tyler Hoechlin: Even if it just ends up being that one experience, this movie changed my perspective on a lot of things just as far as what you really enjoy doing the most with acting and being on a set. Being a part of a great group of collaborators, actors and filmmakers. That just became such a bright spot. And the list of things that I’ve done: working on something that I’m passionate about and being able to sit and do press for a movie that you actually are really proud of, where you really like everybody, it’s a great thing. You don’t have to sit here and BS anybody. We can just talk openly. It’s such a great group and to be a part of a film is a really cool, special thing just on its own.
Blake Jenner: And the amount of things you’ll learn from an experience like that from these guys, but also from Rick (Linklater). He’s such a stealth guy, but if you really, really watch him, you say how interesting his way of going about the whole rehearsal process and just shooting things. We said a million times that if we ever get to direct something – especially something that we write – we’re definitely copying him.
Hoechlin: Start to finish. Start to finish.
Jenner: We’re gonna where the sam clothes as him. Same green shirt.
Brittain: Definitely not the same haircut.
How was the auditioning process?
Hoechlin: They weren’t gonna have me come in, because they were looking for people a bit younger. I talked to my manager about it, and he came up with the idea of sending Rick an email. So I sat and wrote. I watched Rick’s documentary on Augie Garrido (Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach), the UT (University of Texas) baseball coach and my manager said find something that sticks out to you and write an email if you feel like it. And within the first 20 minutes, Augie said something three or four times that was my motto inside of all my baseball hats when I had played…
Brittain: Which is what?
Hoechlin: Whatever it takes.
Hoechlin: So I sat, opened up my iPad and wrote an email out. I didn’t proof read it, I didn’t go back and edit it. I just sent it to my manager and said “Make sure I didn’t misspell anything.” So we sent that and asked for the material that they using with people who were auditioning which was an interview about who you are, what you’re doing, what your college/ high school experience was, your athletic background. I did that at home. I think you guys went in and did that.
Brittain: How did you do it at home? You Skyped?
Hoechlin: Self-taped. They gave me like a list of bullet points to hit. So I sent them like a five minute thing. From there, we all got a script to read and had to go to the casting office to read the script and from there, they gave us a list of characters to choose from. We had to pick about three characters you wanted to read. Then we went through a couple of auditions and a reading with Rick. That was kind of the process.
Brittain: Yeah. One thing that hasn’t really been said yet that I’m thinking of just now that I can’t believe I haven’t even f*cking said in the past two weeks is how great the casting directors were.
Jenner: Oh yeah. Kim and Christine were incredible.
Brittain: And Vicky Boone was awesome as well. It’s a vital part of a project, because they are the ones who hand selected the crop of guys that would be presented in front of Rick, so in essence, they kind of found the soul of this movie for Rick and were tuned in enough to him to know what he was looking for. I had never had a whole lot of respect for casting, but as an actor you kind of look at casting as like the obstacle I want to overcome. I want to get to the director.
Hoechlin: They’re the gatekeeper.
Jenner: With them you have to be perfect.
Brittain: Yeah. Right. But this is really a film where we kept saying to each other once we got the roles “This movie is so well cast. Everybody’s just so right for their role.” And I think it’s obvious when you watch the movie to. It’s spot on.
Is Linklater’s reputation of launching careers something that attracted you to this project?
Jenner: Going from just moving out to Los Angeles and working at a Burger King and auditioning for Best Buy commercials that you get cut out of, it’s pretty incredible to be able to say that along with these guys… Working with these guys alone, you never think you’re gonna work with such awesome group of people, but then you add Rick to the mix and it’s like a dream. It sounds cheesy, but it’s a dream come true 100%. To be able to say “Yeah, we worked with that director who’s easily one of the best directors of our time.
Hoechlin: You always hope. You’re like “Hopefully, I get to work with somebody like that.
Brittain: For me, growing up in Texas Richard Linklater’s “the guy.”
Hoechlin: He’s the unsolicited mayor.
Brittain: 100%. You look at (Matthew) McConaughey. Every actor who’s male and reasonably athletic looks at McConaughey and says “That’s what I can do. If only someone found me I can be the next McConaughey,” and then you get found by Richard Linklater and you’re like “F*ck. There you go.”
From your personal perspective, what is Everybody Wants Some about?
Hoechlin: I think it’s about not being afraid of who you are. My favorite line in the movie is Willoughby’s (played by Wyatt Russell) line to him (Jenner) when they’re shooting pool, “Just be weird.” It’s like “Always be who you are and never who they want.” I love it. I thought it was such a great new way of saying “be yourself.” It’s so much more fun when you embrace what you are and who you are and what you think as opposed to trying to fit into some box that somebody else might want to put you in. You thrive that way. To me, that’s the theme that always hits me the hardest when I watch it.
Jenner: I agree. Life is much more fun and you feel like you get more out of it when you’re not just monitoring yourself and what your saying and where you want to fit in. So that’s definitely a theme. There’s two things I always say, and I could be completely wrong, but this is what I get from it: it’s just so timeless and it shows that all the external things change: clothes change, music changes, all that changes. But growing up and finding out what you love, finding out who you are and having a good time with your boys, with your friends, whoever. That never changes. And also I think everyone has their time when they’re focused on the future and thinking about something they regret from the past. What this movie is cool is that there isn’t such a huge plot. There isn’t like a car crash and waterfalls where there’s mermaids coming out to catch you and make out with the dudes in the car. It’s really like a testament about how important it is to live in “the now.”
The film is about a competitive group of baseball players. Did it ever really get competitive on set?
Brittain: Incredibly competitive. One of the things we were really competitive about were our pants and how tight and how short we could get them. And eventually Tyler just cut off the bottom half of all of his shirts. And so it became a problem with wardrobe. They had to go and sew certain shirts back together.
Jenner: We were shooting for like two weeks straight when he started doing that and we had to reshoot everything.
Hoechlin: Print and sarcasm. Print and sarcasm. They don’t mix.
Brittain: It was a disappointment really. No, no it didn’t get competitive. I think there was an inner-competition to rise to the level that everybody was bringing.
Jenner: Like a competition within yourself.
Brittain: Yeah, inner-competition. That’s what that means, dude.
Jenner: Sorry. I was digging what you were saying. I was digging what you were saying.
Brittain: Everybody was killing it. Everybody was killing it. And you knew everybody was killing it. And you knew everybody was gonna kill it.
Jenner: Then when we killed it…
Brittain: Then when we killed it, we were like “Hey, we killed it!
Brittain: I mean “kill it” like theoretically. We didn’t actually kill anything. Tyler killed a couple of baseballs.
Hoechlin: I would say the strongest competition came up in the game room at Rick’s property during the rehearsal process. There was strong competition in there on the foosball table, on the ping pong table.
Jenner: Strongest unsaid competition was who could fly into Austin first, because everybody was so excited to get to work.
The film is very loose and free flowing, but it sounds like it was just like that on the set as well.
Hoechlin: What you see in the movie, we felt like the hard work was done in the rehearsal process when we spent a couple of weeks with Rick on his property. We stayed in a bunkhouse, so every morning there was breakfast together, then we’d do rehearsal for dance, practice for baseball, we’d do a read through of the script. Some days sticking closer to the script, some days we were kind of throwing in ideas and thoughts. And we played with that for so long, that by time we ended up shooting, we kind of felt like we had already made the movie. We had done the scenes enough and we knew what as Rick called them “our greatest hits” were, so we knew what we were gonna do. So at that point it was actually just having everybody else show up, give us the clothes, do the hair and actually having cameras set up to capture it. So on set it was just fun. We were just playing.
Brittain: Literally, we partied everyday in a professional way.
Hoechlin: With nonalcoholic beers.
Brittain: With nonalcoholic beers.
Jenner: We got hammered, but we didn’t throw up.
Brittain: It was a party.
Since none of you guys are old enough to remember the 1980’s, did you do anything to research that time period like watch movies or listen to music from that era?
Hoechlin: Rick gave us an album with a bunch of songs that were really popular in the 1980’s that we listened to and a Nano iPod and said “These are the songs that were around. Listen to what you think your character would be into.” That’s the way that Rick directs too. It’s very suggestive, which is great because it inspires creativity from everybody and makes it feel very free. So that’s very encouraging.
Hoechlin: As far as movies, every night we would have a screening and have a little discussion afterward. We watched Breaking Away and Il Sorpasso, which actually was probably…
Brittain: Strangely, the one that influenced us the most. That and the Dock Ellis film.
Hoechlin: Yeah, we watched the Dock Ellis documentary No No, which was really good for capturing the attitudes of ballplayers back in that era, because nowadays the game is so different. It’s so professional and polished and people are worried about their brand and getting endorsements, so you’re a little bit more concerned with media and things like that where as back then you were just playing ball. It was a lot dirtier and grittier back then, so we wanted to capture that attitude. Then Rick’s documentary on Augie Gorrido Inning by Inning, and what was the other one?
Brittain: Animal House.
Hoechlin: Animal House. Obvious.
Brittain: It was obvious that this movie had a lot of Animal House in it right off the bat, but with Rick’s style.
Jenner: It’s like a philosophical Animal House.
Hoechlin: Spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused and a philosophical Animal House.
Every character has their own personality. Was that in the script or was that just you guys being yourselves?
Brittain: It was the latter. And that’s a tribute to everybody. Not just to the guys who didn’t have that many lines, because there were probably four or five characters that were like bigger characters. But it’s also a tribute to those guys who were the bigger characters who were wise enough and generous enough to realize that their lines would be better served if someone else said them or their moment would be better if someone else was included in it. That really speaks to the humility of everyone involved.
Jenner: And everybody understood that when a line was given to somebody else or when something was cut down, all the screen time and lines were all distributed evenly. Everybody was there for each other. There wasn’t one person in the whole rehearsal process that was like “That’s mine! I want that! That’s gonna be my moment! I’m going to be a douchebag!”
Brittain: There wasn’t that energy where if your sh*t got stolen by someone, there wasn’t that energy of like (slumps shoulders). It was almost like “Okay, it’s cool. That’s their thing now. What’s my new thing?”
Hoechlin: Coming from playing baseball, I can always throw a baseball metaphorically into anything, but it’s kind of like that. Everyone wanted to be the role player and no one wanted to be the guy to come up and hit the home run. Everybody was happy to be the guy to put down the sacrifice bunt.
Jenner: Everyone was satisfied to help someone else shine.
Brittain: I wish I could go back and relive that too, because we would rehearse all day. For twelve hours we’re doing something. It wasn’t tough. It was blast, but still it was all day. And then we would finish and it was “Who’s place are we going to go to to keep workshop?” You know, to get together and write the scene and write the rap at the end of the movie or work on the dancing or work on the behind the scenes footage to use now during marketing. We were always working.
How many of you played sports in college or high school? Did you have similar experiences to what’s seen in the film?
Hoechlin: I played baseball through college, so this was going back to the glory days for me and reliving it. And having a little bit more fun than I had in college. I was the very, very focused athlete. I would party on my one party day that we had, but I was also like if I don’t have class, I’m in the batting cage. I was more focused and this was the time for me to do that with a little more fun.
Brittain: I was a pretty good football player in high school, a pretty good track athlete, but a terrible baseball player. I stopped playing that (baseball) at around fourteen, so it was nice to come back in and play baseball and be taught baseball by a guys like Tyler and Juston Street and Tanner Kalina, who’s a phenomenal ball player. All the guys who were great ball players. And to kind of get coached up by these guys who knew what they were doing was nice, because guys could have played pro ball. Justin did play pro ball. Tyler could have if he hadn’t quit and decided to something else.
Did you have to teach Wyatt Russell? He’s a hockey player.
Hoechlin: It’s in his blood.
Brittain: Wyatt’s so annoying in that way, dude. Literally, he’s so annoying in that way, because he’s like casually great at everything.
Jenner: We went to top golf the other day and he was incredible.
Brittain: He’s knocking the ball 300 yards or whatever.
Jenner: I grew up playing football and basketball and I did some wrestling. I still play basketball now, like pick up games with my boys back at home in Los Angeles. Never played a day of baseball in my life, so I hope you guys never see my film of me playing baseball. It was terrible.
Hoechlin: I would say baseball is one of the hardest sports to fake in film and t.v., so I thought they did a really nice job.
Are there any little tidbits of information about the movie that people might not get even after watching it?
Brittain: The video game scene. That’s actually Rick playing when you see the screen.
Jenner: He emailed me a picture two weeks ago of when he was in college saying “That’s you!” I look at the title and it’s like a Space Invaders national competition. He was there whooping a*s. That’s how serious it was.
Brittain: He’s a straight up geek about Space Invaders.
Jenner: He also borrowed from other peoples lives. Like being taped up to a wall. That was real, but it never happened to him. It happened to a buddy of his at a different school.
Hoechlin: Some of the characters were inspired by other people that he knew.
Brittain: He had a sh*tty roommate his freshman year. So my character is inspired by his roommate. He literally lasted three weeks, Rick had his own room for the whole year. And I’m named after a cat that his family used to have.
You (Hoechlin) played in college. You have a great swing by the way.
Hoechlin: Thank you. I think it looks better in the movie than it ever was in college.
How long did it take the two of you (Jenner and Brittain) to learn baseball while on set?
Will: Blake and I just focused on specific skills, man. I played baseball, but I was never a pitcher. I knew all I had to do was pitch from the stretch like an 80’s pitcher would. So we watched some video and Rick gave us the freedom to kind of make up our own routine. I had this whole bit with like a horseshoe and stuff, but it got cutout because it was complete horsesh*t. But Blake and I just worked form. We worked like probably 200 hours plus.
Jenner: Yeah, playing catch with each other. We definitely incorporated out own style into it like you were saying. I was doing it from the windup position, but even in that Rick let us play with it. I remember doing research of guys doing it from the windup back then. Even now they’re taking deep breathes. That’s kind of why I was using it like a focus technique, because in the original script, he was kind of like talking to himself. So I was like “Let me get into my own zone. As long as we were staying true to the period and the style.
Brittain: Like Austin Amelio who plays Nesbit. He worked submarine.
Jenner: Which is hard.
Will: It’s really hard. Quinton Johnson and Glen Powell. Neither of them were ball players either. Glen caught balls at first base and Quinton fielded grounders. So we just worked on the stuff that we knew that we had to do and did it well. The rest of the guys were d*mned good ball players.
Jenner: Forrest (Vickery) was pretty good, right?
Brittain: Forrest was really good. Well, Forest has to hit a line drive in between shortstop and second into centerfield off of a live pitch. It’s like a whole sequence that has to happen after that, which is really hard to film. And Forest was crushing the ball and knocking it all over the place, but he had to specifically hit a line drive. He probably hit like 30 balls before we finally got it. He was a little stressed out.
Do you see this as a sports movie? It is to me, but it’s not the traditional sports film.
Hoechlin: To me, sports is a metaphor for life. I think traditionally when you think of a sports movie, a lot of times you think there’s gonna be a quest for a championship and they’re either gonna make it or they’re not. That’s the definition of a sports film, but to me that’s not what it’s about. To me, sports are about the challenges you face, how you work through those challenges and how you deal with other people on a team. Rick focused on that and I find it far more interesting just to see the dynamics of the characters and how they relate to each other. That’s so much more fascinating than the game. If you want to watch a game, watch a game. Watch football on Sunday, watch baseball in October. That’s dramatic. Watching it scripted, you’re playing it out. You already know what’s going to happen.
Brittain: It’s probably a truer sports movie than most sports movies in that aspect. A game of knuckles is very intense.
Jenner: I didn’t play baseball like Tyler or anybody, but I think what Rick does so well is he doesn’t go straight for the outcome. He loves the topic of getting there. It’s cool to see somebody win, but it’s also cool to see the process of achieving that and forming yourself.
Hoechlin: That’s why you watch the whole game. People always say about basketball that “You can just watch the last two minutes.” But you want to see the game and how it develops. There are flows to it and different teams go through different flows. And that’s the fascinating part.
And finally, with all of you being young guys, what would you want to do in your careers that you haven’t done yet?
Brittain: That’s good question. I haven’t done t.v. yet. These guys have (Jenner starred on Glee and Hoechlin starred on Teen Wolf). I’d like to do a short stint on a great show. Something along the lines of Breaking Bad or House of Cards. That would be great.
Hoechlin: Too much. Honestly, just about anything I haven’t done. The scripts that you’re most excited about are the ones where you read them and say “Ooh, I haven’t tried that yet. I love watching people like Christian Bale and Johnny Depp who do that and constantly take risks. Sometimes if works, sometimes it doesn’t, but when it works it’s amazing. I like the idea of having roles that when you read the script it’s like “Okay, it will take me about 3 to 6 months to get to where this needs to be. I like that challenge. Honestly, something like this (Everybody Wants Some) again would be a dream. It was the most fun I’ve ever had working for sure.