Richard Linklater’s ‘Everybody Wants Some’ Draws From His College Days and Is His ‘Best Experience’

The year “1980 was a really fun time to be in college,” director Richard Linklater said with a wink while introducing his new film, “Everybody Wants Some” — about college baseball players in the ’80s — at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in New York on Tuesday evening.

The theater was an intimate setting for the director’s latest work, which is billed as the spiritual sequel to his cult classic “Dazed and Confused.” Tuesday’s screening came ahead of the official premiere, at SXSW’s opening night this Friday, March 11.

Linklater spoke auspiciously about the latest addition to his film repertoire. “It was my best experience ever,” he said optimistically. “I’m better now than I was, and more confident. What can I say?”

Most seats in the theater were reserved for celebrity guests, including members of the Linklater cinema universe, like Parker Posey and Ethan Hawke, who gave the preamble to Linklater’s introduction. “I feel like I’ve made nine movies with Richard Linklater trying to get in this movie,” the actor joked, “and I didn’t make it.”

Before the screening, Hawke chatted up Posey and Willem Dafoe about a recent photo shoot. Apparently the photographer told Hawke to be more like Dafoe. Hawke jokingly recalled the event to his fellow actor: “I’m not going to be like Willem; I’m going to be like me.” A few rows closer to the screen, Mike Birbiglia muched on popcorn, seated next to Ira Glass.

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After the credits rolled, the party moved a short walk away from the theater to a Tex-Mex spot called Avenida Cantina. Danny DeVito and Neil deGrasse Tyson shared in a brief but rowdy conversation by a buffet of chips and salsa, quesadillas and chicken wings. One of the restaurant’s walls featured a “Dazed and Confused” mural of Matthew McConaughey’s Wooderson character and the quote “Party at the Moontower,” which gave way to photo op tomfoolery between Posey and the director.

In a manner similar to how “Dazed” featured an ensemble cast of — at the time — budding actors, this film gave Linklater the forum to showcase young talent like Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch and Tyler Hoechlin. “I’ve done that a few times,” the director said, about giving young actors a shot. “It’s just thrilling to give someone who’s ready their opportunity. They’ve done their work,” he said. “It’s up to our industry to have something for them.”

But that opportunity doesn’t come without time and effort. “It was hard to get a movie like this made,” the director said while introducing the film. “It doesn’t have a lot of stars in it. I tried for over a decade to get it financed, and then finally it did.”

Linklater was still making “Everybody Wants Some” while doing the awards circuit for his 2014 film “Boyhood.” Although the latter was a serious best-picture contender, the director explained that its July release (as opposed to the fall release that most Oscar-primed movies receive) gave him enough time to start a new project before the trophies started rolling in. “All during awards stuff I was editing this,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’ve already moved on.’ It was healthy, psychologically.”

And as for how much of Linklater’s own 1980 “fun time” in college served as inspiration for the film, he confessed: “I cop to all of it. I was there. Yup, it all happened.”

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