Richard Linklater is no stranger to ambitious shoots. With the Before trilogy, he captured romance between Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine across three films. With Boyhood, he filmed Ellar Coltrane as Mason over 12 years, documenting his journey from boy to man on screen. But Linklater has taken on his biggest challenge yet with latest project Merrily We Roll Along, which will see him shooting his cast every couple of years for two whole decades.
It’s an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s 1981 musical, which tracks three friends’ lives going backwards in time over 20 years. Rather than rely on cast changes, CGI or makeup, Linklater plans to pull it off with one set of actors, one of which is The Humans and Lady Bird star Beanie Feldstein. “It is a real lesson in delayed gratification!” Feldstein tells Empire of the filming process. The first part of the film has already been shot, with a plan to return every year or two to continue the story. “To return to it throughout the next two decades of my whole life – which is insane because I’ve only lived about two-and-a-half, three – feels surreal,” she admits. Feldstein will play Mary Flynn, alongside Blake Jenner as Broadway composer Franklin Shepard and her real-life pal Ben Platt as Charley Kringas.
For Feldstein, it’s a project that brings together a set of creative voices that couldn’t be more in tune with her own sensibilities. “My soul and my blood are made of Sondheim,” she says. “I am a walking fanatic. And then Rich’s movies – if you love movies, you can’t not love his movies.” Roll on 2040.
Read Empire’s full story on Merrily We Roll Along in The Godfather 50th anniversary issue – on sale Thursday 20 January, and available to pre-order online here.