It’s reached a stage at the festival where there’s buzz generating around certain films and once such production is Beautiful Boy by Felix Van Groeningen, which tells the moving true story of a young boy (Timothée Chalamet) struggling with drug addiction, and how that affects his relationship with his mother (Amy Ryan) and father (Steve Carell). We were fortunate enough to grab a spot on the film’s red carpet for the premiere – and spoke to Amy Ryan, as well as screenwriter Luke Davies.
On working with Steve Carell: It was very different circumstances, but always great to be in a room with that man.
On Timothée Chalamet: Timothée is an exceptional actor, he really is. I hadn’t seen Call Me By Your Name when we were filming this, but I remember just watching him in certain scenes and being stunned by him. So I had the reverse, I saw Call Me By Your Name second. He’s amazing.
On drug addiction: The message I hope people come away with is that addiction is not some moral lapse, it’s a disease and there shouldn’t be shame around it, we should talk about it out in the open the way we do other diseases and get treatment and help, it’s quite overdue. The detailed telling of this story will give you a bit more sympathy to see really what they’ve gone through day in and day out, as opposed to just hearing some gossip from a friend of a friend of someone suffering, but this story is quite thorough in the detail which can hard, but it’s true.
On the genesis of the production: Interestingly enough what appealed to me was the team of Jeremy Kleiner the producer and Felix Van Groeningen the director. I had written a film 10 years earlier called Candy which starred Heath Ledger that was about drug addiction so I was actually thinking that I didn’t want to go down the path of another film that involves drugs, but then I met Felix and I realised these were great people and I should do this – so I did.
On adapting two sets of memoirs: The main challenge was a logistical one which is that when one character is on screen, the other is often off-screen so you have to really balance it so you don’t feel in your emotional experience of the film that you’re losing touch with the father character or the son character. It’s an interweave and it’s tricky.
On the casting of Chalamet and Carell: You write things and you hope that you write things that are emotionally true, and then you get an actor like Timothée Chalamet cast and what he does is beyond the best things I could’ve written because he’s such a great actor, it feels like the stars lined up a little bit. The story is real and it’s true and parts of it are emotionally devastating, but Timothée plays this kid who is somewhat broken but also very loveable. It was one of those moments where I thanked the heavens, they’re so great in it, I’ve seen the movie twice so far and tonight will be my third time and it’s a very powerful experience, each time. Even though I know what’s happening with every scene.