beautiful boy trailer

If I read correctly, you cast Timothée Chalamet before he blew up last year.

Felix: Correct, before there was Chalamania!

Exactly. So did he just audition for you? What was it about him that stood out from the rest?

Felix: He auditioned, yeah. From the first tape that I saw, he captured something very truthful. It was scary, in a way because he was really going at it in some of the tougher scenes. Again, he’s fearless to have done that, and then he’s switch to something much more vulnerable. His range is incredible. He wanted us to fall in love with Nic, also; that was important. He has that charm. He came back a couple of times, each time growing the performance, and then the last time was the chemistry reading with Steve, and they were hugging like father and son halfway into the scene. It just clicked.

There are two sets I want to ask you about. The diner set that we come back to a couple of times, each time they end up there, it feels like more and more of a battlefield, this place that was their special place for so long. Talk about the use of that space—was that a set or a real place?

Felix: It’s a real place but we redecorated it, and it was inspired by a real place in San Francisco, Caffe Trieste, which is a famous place where Francis Ford Coppola wrote most of The Godfather. Adapting a book to a film is about translating a feeling into a recurring themes or elements that start to make sense in the story. What was really inspiring to me was that this was a place that they went when David was taking care of five-year-old Nic, and they would spend a lot of time together, when they had this pure, beautiful bond. And it is the place where David asked Nic to come back—it’s a scene where he wants to get through to him and try to help him. He tries to get him into treatment or come home, and he asks himself “Why did I choose this place?” This was in the book. That was a great concept. Going to this place where they have shared memories, and David brings Nic there to try and make him feel something about past. It’s not that innocent of him; it’s desperate. And you’re writing scenes, and there’s this really important one scene that could happen anywhere, but it makes sense in the movie to happen there. Everything becomes connected, like taking two books into one movie; it’s about boiling it down to its essence.

The other location we visit quite often is the family home. I feel like I know the geography of that house. Again, it’s a place that’s supposed to be sacred ground, and Nic ruins that by breaking in with his girlfriend at one point. But the house is a member of the family, in a way.

Felix: It’s a safe space until it’s not anymore, right? A lot of what you’re talking about was intentional, and it took a long time to make that work. David has created this place for his family to be safe, to grow up outside the city, far away from drugs, from the dangers of life. You wouldn’t expect somebody doing drugs there, which is really what it was in reality. But the mythical element of that was really beautiful. And in the film, the look and feel of it, the fact that there are huge windows all the way around, it allows nature to come into the house. Then at night, it changes. When David can’t sleep and he’s up waiting for Nic, it’s dark—the bright windows looking outside are these pitch black holes. The way the bedrooms are designed is meant to give each person their specific space, their position in the family. David’s office has all the glass and is looking out over his family. And then there are all these scenes that are all related to coming home, going back, Nic not wanting to stay home, David asking Nic to come home, all of which climaxes with Nic breaking in.

I’m assuming David and Nic have seen the film. What do they think of it?

Felix: They were really moved. I can’t even imagine what it is to see that. But they had time to adapt to the idea, and we became good friends over the years. They were really open and allowed us into their lives, so the look and the feel of the movie became authentic because they were open into letting us into their lives and picking up elements that made it into the movie. I guess they loved it; the thought we really got it right and are supporting it and happy that it’s out there. The whole point of them sharing their stories is that they can be honest about it and have conversations about it, and the movie is doing that, hopefully, in an even bigger way.

You put up statistics at the end of the film, which takes this very personal story and makes it a cautionary tale for all addiction. Why did you choose to include those statistics?

Felix: It felt important to bring the story to today, since this crisis is still going on. Nic wrote that, actually. The movie is period, and we wanted to bring it into the now. But part of that title card says that Nic got through it, and people who recognize themselves in him, there is help out there.

Thank you for talking, Felix. Best of luck with this.

Felix: Thank you so much.

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