Carell and Cha­la­met bond on the set

Penticton Herald - - ARTS -

TORONTO (CP) — Steve Carell and Ti­mothee Cha­la­met both knew the ad­dic­tion drama “Beau­ti­ful Boy” hinged on the fa­ther-son re­la­tion­ship.

The movie is based on the twin me­moirs of David Sh­eff and his son, Nic, about each’s per­spec­tive on Nic’s decade-long, nearly fa­tal plunge into meth ad­dic­tion. Tog­gling be­tween night­mare and mem­ory, “Beau­ti­ful Boy,” fluc­tu­ates be­tween ad­dic­tion and re­cov­ery, be­tween the love and an­guish of a fa­ther and son.

So when the two first met at Cha­la­met’s fi­nal au­di­tion to read as Nic, it was a preg­nant mo­ment.

“I think it was an open-armed hug,” re­called Cha­la­met of his even­tual co-star’s greet­ing. “I was very ap­pre­cia­tive of that be­cause I was re­ally quite ner­vous go­ing in there.”

The meet­ing is vivid to Carell, too. For him and every­one else in the room, it was in­stantly clear Cha­la­met (whose break­through Os­car-nom­i­nated role in “Call Me By Your Name” hadn’t yet come out) was the right choice.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bet­ter au­di­tion,” said Carell.

A year af­ter Cha­la­met im­pressed au­di­ences in his chem­istry with Ar­mie Ham­mer in “Call Me By Your Name,” “Beau­ti­ful Boy” teams him with an­other vet­eran ac­tor who has like­wise been some­thing of a men­tor to the 22-year-old Cha­la­met. The two found they had a nat­u­ral affin­ity for each other de­spite be­ing gen­er­a­tions apart. Cha­la­met grew up an “Of­fice” fan and in an in­ter­view last month over cof­fee, was most eager to hear the 56-year-old Carell’s “Daily Show” sto­ries.

“It was nat­u­ral,” said Cha­la­met. “I felt like we had a phys­i­cal di­a­logue that was akin to what a fa­ther and son’s phys­i­cal di­a­logue would be.”

“I feel ab­so­lutely the op­po­site,” Car­rell dead­panned, crack­ing up his co-star. “He’s some­body you want to be around. He’s some­body you want to talk to. He’s such a com­mit­ted ac­tor and takes it se­ri­ously but at the same time is en­tirely open.”

Ad­dic­tion has rarely been seen on­screen as it is in Felix Van Groenin­gen’s “Beau­ti­ful Boy,” which opens in the­atres Fri­day. Whereas Hol­ly­wood has of­ten con­cen­trated on the tail­spin of ad­dic­tion or swift re­cov­ery, “Beau­ti­ful Boy” stays true to the cy­cles of re­lapse. As Nic’s ad­dic­tion threat­ens to de­stroy him, David is racked by des­per­a­tion, guilt and hope­less­ness.

Be­fore shoot­ing be­gan, Cha­la­met had lunch with Nic, and Carell met David, who also vis­ited the set sev­eral times.

For the role, Cha­la­met dropped 18 pounds. But both he and Carell are cau­tious about play­ing up any of their ef­forts to au­then­ti­cally por­tray ad­dic­tion and its toll.

“In ad­di­tion to get­ting all the speci­fici­ties of us­ing right, it was first and fore­most about the fam­ily and the re­la­tion­ships within that,” said Carell.


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