Gotham Red Carpet: 'Boyhood' Team, Bennett Miller and Tilda Swinton Surprised By Honors
"People have looked at a lot of my work over 30 years and it made some kind of sense to them and it doesn't make any sense to me"
Boyhood's brand-new star Ellar Coltrane was one of the first people to walk the red carpet at this year's Gotham Independent Film Awards in New York.
Virtually unknown before the movie came out in July, Coltrane is now in the middle of a storm of awards attention lavished on Boyhood, which won the Independent Film Audience Award, one of a handful of Gotham prizes the film was nominated for, on Monday.
The young actor, who spent 12 years growing up in front of the camera as the star of Richard Linklater's coming-of-age film, told The Hollywood Reporter that the whole experience, has been "crazy" and "weird."
"I definitely didn't expect this at all from the first screening where people stood up and cheered," Coltrane said of the awards attention lavished on the low-budget indie. "It's so personal and kind of weird. It's a weird kind of movie and it's definitely a little bit surprising that people get it and enjoy it and connect with it the way they do. I never thought I would be talking about awards, but it's awesome. We put a lot of love and work into the movie so I think it's really cool that it's being recognized."
The movie's not the only thing getting noticed. Coltrane said people are recognizing him, particularly in movie theaters or Austin, Texas, where he still lives and Linklater is based.
"I'm pretty shy so it's weird, but I'm getting a lot better at it," Coltrane said, later telling THR that he still wants to act and is looking for another project. "I don't want to be rude or standoffish to people because they approach me with such beautiful things to say, so I try to reciprocate that."
Read more Gotham Awards: The Winners' Reactions
His co-stars have also been giving him advice on dealing with the madness of awards season.
"Both Ethan [Hawke] and Patricia [Arquette] have been right there for me and I think kind of the best advice I got from anyone is that it's crazy for everyone…and I'm not weird because it's weird…you learn to deal with it. Also, it's cool, even though it's overwhelming, that people like our movie. That's awesome."
Arquette added that she's been cautioning him that not all films blow up the way Boyhood has.
"We've all been saying, 'Dude, it's not usually like this. Usually you have a movie, and maybe it's a good movie, and nobody cares, and nobody wants to talk to you, and nobody wants to write about your movie, and it's a bummer'…He's been really working hard on promoting this movie but not all films are like this," she said.
Arquette too said she didn't expect the reception the film's received, even though she knew the story was special.
"When Rick first called me about it, just the concept of it about watching children grow up and adults get older and parents make mistakes and people try to find their way and grow up as they go along. Just that idea," she said. "I was amazed he was able to raise the financing to do this movie. Even though our budget was $4 million…He broke all the rules of storytelling…and I didn't know if audiences would embrace it because we're so preconditioned to stories being told a certain way."
Linklater, meanwhile, thought the real embrace happened months ago.
"Our film came out and we connected with audiences and that's great, and the fact that it's the end of the year and people are still talking about it, that's even more gravy I guess," he said.
"I guess it's welcome when you get a response that seems to warrant the effort you put in and people seem to appreciate it in the spirit that it's made," he added. "That's all you can really hope for as far as a response."
Although Boyhood went into the show with multiple nominations, Birdman won the best picture and best actor prizes while Julianne Moore won the best actress award for her work in Still Alice and Dear White People star Tessa Thompson was named breakthrough actor.
Still, some of the stars walking the red carpet knew they would be going home with awards, specifically the recipients of the previously-announced actor, director and industry tributes: Tilda Swinton, Foxcatcher director Bennett Miller and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. But Swinton and Miller confessed they weren't entirely sure what to make of being honored, or the films that led to that, in Swinton's case.
"It means that people have looked at a lot of my work over 30 years and it made some kind of sense to them," she said of the tribute. "And it doesn't make any sense to me."
"I never know what to say," Miller added. "I think my first feeling is that's so nice, that's so great and then, 'Oh dear, I have to talk words.'"
Miller was able to tell a particularly tragic story in his wrestling drama based on the real-life murder of Olympian Dave Schultz by chemical-company heir John DuPont.
Miller, who fictionalized parts of the story, joked that "84 percent" of the film is based on reality.
"It's very drawn from the truth of these characters and the essence of the events. There are things that have been tweaked but nothing that I think violates the fundamental truth of who these people are," he said.
The director added that the reaction to his film has been "more extreme than anything else I've done."
Whiplash star Miles Teller, who was nominated for best actor, said his intense movie about a driven aspiring jazz drummer and his relentless instructor may not have been extreme enough for some viewers: "People who have grown up in that environment have come up to us and say, 'You didn't go far enough, honestly, I had some teachers that were very rough.'"
Still he thinks both characters are responsible for the film's teacher-student dynamic.
"A master's not a master unless he has slaves. You can't have a sadist without a masochist. People have to be able to feed into it and to want you to do what you're doing to them. I think with Andrew that was the case. He was just a kid that was feeling he was getting better because of this guy's tutelage and even though [Fletcher] was really intense and kept breaking him down, he kept coming back for more," Teller said.