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