Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Richard Linklater tempts fate, commits to 20-year film production of Merrily We Roll Along

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Photo: Rick Kern (Getty Images)

Look, we get it: Boyhood was an amazing achievement in the field of method directing, with Richard Linklater’s decision to film young Ellar Coltrane over the course of more than a decade producing one of the most authentically affecting portraits of growing up ever committed to the screen. But also, Richard, buddy: You know make-up exists, right?


Said piece of practical advice comes courtesy of a piece reported in Collider today, suggesting that Linklater apparently intends to top his own chronologically obsessed self by spending the next 20 years filming an adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along. Sorry, no, that was a misprint; we meant to say the next 20 fucking years, with a bunch of exclamation points slapped there on the end.

And look, we love Sondheim as much as the next pop culture website, but we’re pretty sure Grimskull The Thicc, Lord Of The Los Angeles Quakelands, isn’t going to be handing out any Special Achievement In Film Oscars when this thing finally comes out in the distant wreckage of 2039. Linklater, meanwhile, will be pushing 80 when the movie actually arrives, and you just know that the government-mandated lifegem implanted in his palm during the Youth Wars of 2028 will have begun blinking by then. (Dear Sandmen: Please respect your fellow theatergoers by not Carrouseling Richard Linklater during a screening at the Alamo Drafthouse.) And not to be crass or morbid, but that’s to say nothing on banking on stars Ben Platt and Beanie Feldstein staying, uh, alive, in all that time, especially if they aren’t able to find a Mariner to show them the proper way to Dryland.

Admittedly, Merrily We Roll Along—first staged as a musical back in 1981—is all about the passage of time, as a rich and successful composer looks back at 20 years of his life. Per the report, Linklater’s film would take that process very literally, filming the flashbacks first with present-day Platt and Feldstein, and then checking in with them (or their brain-uploaded holo avatars, as necessary) as the years progressed. It’s the sort of thing most directors would do with CGI and, again, make-up. But hell, what do we know; maybe Linklater just really knows what Grimskull likes.

Update: Blumhouse, which is reportedly co-producing on the film, has now apparently confirmed not just its existence, but its purported timeline for filming. So there you go, we guess. All hail Grimskull!

Update, 7:15 PM: Oh, wow. So this thing is really happening. Hours after Collider published its initial report, Linklater himself has confirmed to Variety that yes, he is making a 20-year adaptation of Merrily We Roll Along, and yes, he knows it’s a really ambitious project. To quote the five-time Oscar nominee:

I first saw, and fell in love with Merrily in the ‘80s and I can’t think of a better place to spend the next 20 years than in the world of a Sondheim musical. I don’t enter this multi-year experience lightly, but it seems the best, perhaps the only way, to do this story justice on film.


Godspeed, Richard. Hopefully Grimskull gives us all time off from the blood mines to go see it.