5 Things Learned Acting in 'Boyhood'

Jamie Howard, far right, starred in "Boyhood" as the stepsister of the film's main character, Mason (Ellar Coltrane, in glasses).
Jamie Howard, far right, starred in "Boyhood" as the stepsister of the film's main character, Mason (Ellar Coltrane, in glasses).

Growing up with Richard Linklater’s daughter certainly has its perks.

Jamie Howard, now a senior Drexel engineering student, grew up in Austin, Texas, and happened to be friends with Lorelai Linklater. That friendship translated into a role as the stepsister of the main character (played by Ellar Coltrane) in the film “Boyhood.” Since the movie tracks the process of one boys growth from six to 18 years old, Howard’s role spanned several years.

Here, the fifth-year student shares with DrexelNow some of what she learned being on the set of one of the most ambitious film projects ever.

1.     Patricia Arquette is just as nice as you hoped her to be.

“Working with Patricia Arquette was so inspiring. She is an extremely genuine, caring and fun person. Her ability to enter and exit character so smoothly is really remarkable. She's a great collaborator. I'll always remember how impressed I was that she could cry on cue. Also, she went out of her way to establish rapport with us kids, took us shopping, and was very approachable, warm and sweet with us.”

2.     Whatever you do, don’t move your hair tie.

“I didn't have any prior experience on a movie set, so it was all new. There are so many tiny details that need to be just right. For example, the continuity director was watching every, single detail between takes to make sure it was seamless. For example, she noticed that I inadvertently moved a hair tie from one wrist to another between takes.”

Jamie Howard today

3.     It can be weird acting a part younger than yourself, but a movie family can seem like the real thing.

“One thing that felt a little bit awkward for me when I started the movie at 12-years-old was acting a part that was a year or two younger than I actually was, especially the clothes and hair style in that first year. It felt a little bit strange but, on the other hand, [Linklater] was so easy and laid back that he quickly made us all comfortable. What was easiest? Feeling a genuinely close, personal bond with the others in my movie family. The mood that [Linklater] created made it all seem very realistic, so there was no pressure to ‘act.’”

4.     Sometimes watching a feature film you are part of can be like watching a home movie.

“Seeing myself on the screen for the first few times was surreal, but I think a big factor was also the time that had passed from when we filmed to the time I saw the first screening. Ten very formative years had passed in my life, so it was definitely like reminiscing about this fun movie project we had worked on during my youth.” 

5.     Even if a movie is shot years ago, it doesn’t exactly fade into your past.

“Having grown up in Austin, Texas, during that time, the story is very real for my peer group and, consequently, the film is still very much alive for me. Also, rooting for the film all during the awards season has been another whole experience, too. It doesn't quite feel like it's in the past for me yet.