Film & TV

Beautiful Boy Director Felix van Groeningen on the Nature of Addiction

See how being a father impacted 'Beautiful Boy' director Felix van Groeningen's grappling with the narrative.
Reading time 2 minutes

Photography by Christopher Sherman

Styling by Corey Ng

"Families go through ordeals,” notes Felix van Groeningen, director of Beautiful Boy, an emotional tale of a young man’s battle with sobriety and his father’s earnest attempt to support him. Starring Timothée Chalamet as a struggling methamphetamine addict and Steve Carell as his father, the film is based on two real-life memoirs by David Sheff and his son Nic Sheff.

When it came time to write the screenplay for Beautiful Boy, van Groeningen and his co-writer, Luke Davies, were confronted with how to reconcile one event told from two differing perspectives. “Nic’s story,” van Groeningen points out, “had to be boiled down to experiencing the relapses with him.” Indeed, one of the keynarrative elements to Beautiful Boy is the cyclical nature of drug addiction itself, the dialectic of using and then cleaning up, then using again. “The thing we really needed to embrace,” van Groeningen says, “is the repetitive nature of addiction,” but also how, with each relapse, “the characters evolve and learn about each other.”

Having himself just recently become a father, van Groeningen admits to identifying with David Sheff ’s memoir and the intense physical and emotional attachments parents have with their children. When pressed as to how being a parent has changed him, van Groeningen confesses, “One of the fascinating things about becoming a father is the incredible physical connection you have with your kid.” What could be more beautiful than that?

Casting: Ian Monroe

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