Actual politicsare one thing, but Linklater is much less keen to discuss the politics of Hollywood. He has been Academy Award-nominated five times, with Boyhood a favorite to win Best Picture in 2015. (It lost, controversially, to Birdman.) Yet, despite Last Flag Flying's premiere at the prestigious New York Film Festival and a plum release date in peak consideration season, Linklater feels no yearning to return to that stage. "In fact, it was kind of great to be doing Everybody Wants Some!! after Boyhood," he reflects. "Saying, 'The best thing about this movie is it has absolutely zero chance of being taken seriously on that level.'"
And now, when this movie is being taken seriously on that level?
"Eh, there's not much to add. You know, what can you say? There's not much to..." he sighs, good-naturedly. "It's-- It feels like... Yeah. I dunno, there's nothing-- It's not why you do it, you know?"
He absentmindedly twists a water bottle cap off as he thinks. "It's not like sports, you know?" he arrives at. "The whole point of sports is to win your game, your match, for the team to win. But art is very different. It's to express yourself and to maximize your gifts and to tell the story. And then that's just kind of luck -- happenstance -- if any of that stuff happens."
Linklater has moved on to his next story, anyway, helming an adaptation of Maria Semple's comedic mystery, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, and his next characters, including Cate Blanchett's portrayal of the titular agoraphobic architect, Bernadette. (On casting, Linklater has three qualities he looks for: intelligence, humor and work ethic. With Blanchett, he says, "Add on genius.")
"It's a bigger movie. More of an epic structure [with] a lot going on," he teases of the project, which filmed last summer. "It's fun for me: two middle age movies, one very masculine, one very feminine. So, different sides of myself. Again, just telling a story."