It boy

Why drug ad­dic­tion drama Beau­ti­ful Boy could be the best show­case yet for Ti­mothée Cha­la­met’s tal­ents

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - JOHN NU­GENT

DI­REC­TOR FELIX VAN Groenin­gen saw count­less ac­tors dur­ing the cast­ing for Beau­ti­ful Boy, an adap­ta­tion of two mem­oirs about metham­phetamine ad­dic­tion by fa­ther and son David and Nic Sh­eff. He had al­ready cast Steve Carell as the con­cerned fa­ther David, but was strug­gling to cast the trou­bled son. Then an un­known ac­tor named Ti­mothée Cha­la­met walked into the room. “We were like, ‘Whoa,’” re­calls Van Groenin­gen. “This is oth­er­worldly.” In his au­di­tion, Cha­la­met did a ‘chem­istry read­ing’ with Carell, per­form­ing the emo­tional scene which opens the first trailer for the film, in which Nic has clearly re­lapsed. “It was so ob­vi­ous. He was right on so many lev­els.”

When film­ing be­gan in early 2017, Cha­la­met’s break­through, Call Me By Your Name, had only just de­buted at Sun­dance. But Van Groenin­gen al­ready knew he had found some­thing spe­cial. Af­ter win­ning the role, Cha­la­met threw him­self into the process, los­ing 20lb in weight to por­tray the rav­ages of drug ad­dic­tion, with the film­ing sched­ule based around him slowly gain­ing it back. “We started with one of the most hor­rific scenes [in the hos­pi­tal],” says Van Groenin­gen grimly. “It was a lot for him. From day one, there were peo­ple in the crew cry­ing be­hind the mon­i­tors.” A bleak tale of re­lapse and re­cov­ery prom­ises wa­ter­works on both sides of the cam­era — but Van Groenin­gen asserts this is as much a film about fam­ily as it is about tragedy. He in­cluded two weeks of re­hearsal prior to film­ing, in­clud­ing room for the cast to “get to know each other”, en­sur­ing the fa­mil­ial chem­istry was as au­then­tic as pos­si­ble. “Even in the harder mo­ments, we show the love that re­mains in that fam­ily,” says Van Groenin­gen. With awards buzz al­ready around Cha­la­met and Carell, ex­pect an emo­tional, oth­er­worldly ex­pe­ri­ence. BEAU­TI­FUL BOY IS IN CINE­MAS FROM 19 JAN­UARY

Above: Fa­ther David Sh­eff (Steve Carell) com­forts his drug-ad­dicted son Nic (Ti­mothée Cha­la­met). Left: Di­rec­tor Felix Van Groenin­gen.

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