Chalamet told W Magazine that the film had a profound impact on his understanding of addiction.
In the film Beautiful Boy, actor Timothee Chalamet takes on the role of a young person struggling with substance use disorder. The film takes a hard look at the real impact of addiction on families and is described by Chalamet as “an anti-glorification of drugs” in his recent interview with W Magazine.
Beautiful Boy was adapted from two books: Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, by father David Scheff and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, co-written by David and his son Nic Scheff. Chalamet told W Magazine that the film had a profound impact on his understanding of addiction.
The actor, 23, said, “It is a really serious subject and a lot of people in the world, in America, and a lot of people my age are going through this with opiates. [But] there’s still a taboo.”
Working closely with Nic and David Scheff helped Chalamet get into character as Nic Scheff, who struggles with methamphetamine use. The actor also met people in recovery and said he was moved by the gratitude and sense of community he found there. He said, “I spent a lot of time in inpatients and outpatients. This felt less like a drug movie and more of an addiction movie or recovery movie. I could see the temptation to talk about it like, ‘Well, how did the drug stuff prep go?’ The reality of that is there’s a lot of sometimes disturbing videos online that are clear about what the active stages of use would be. To spend time in these rehabs or in meetings, it was fascinating to me, the humanity of it. You go into those meetings, and I think there’s a misconception that they’re—I don’t know. In reality, people are really grateful and thankful to be saving their lives, basically.”
Encountering substance use disorder and recovery up close and personal changed Chalamet’s perception. He talks openly about the impact of addiction and the importance of finding recovery support. In the interview, he said, “That was the learning grace of this movie for me: addiction doesn’t have a face, it has no preferred class, or gender, or race. I think it’s almost easier or something to be like, ‘Oh, well, that doesn’t affect me or my family or my friends. That’s another thing.’ When the reality is, it’s everywhere.”
Chalamet also commented on issues of access and fairness for people seeking help, saying, “And how do you get by it? You know there’s no rehabilitation center regulation in America. Anyone can open a rehab, basically. And for these really intense substances, you don’t want to be swinging your shot … And I think the reality is, it’s a day at a time. You never really beat it. You know, Philip Seymour Hoffman was sober 22 years or something.”
Beautiful Boy has garnered Chalamet six nominations for his role as Nic, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. As the film continues to seize media and critical attention, Chalamet has consistently centered the message that people with substance use disorder are people first and that recovery is possible, even when it appears hopeless. He’s using his platform and his role in the film to talk about addiction honestly.
He said, “David [Scheff] really got lucky with Nic. And Nic says it, as well, that it’s a bit of a miracle that on two occasions he survived really close calls. Again, I don’t want to be too dramatic or statistic-y … because if David and Nic were here, they’re really hopeful about it and they feel there’s a lot of redemption in this story.”Beautiful Boy is playing in theaters nationwide.