Timothée Chalamet Discusses The Message Of "Beautiful Boy"

By Maggie Ethridge 12/14/18

"The movie shows how devastating it can be to everyone around the addict,” Timothée Chalamet explained during a recent panel on Beautiful Boy.

Timothée Chalamet spoke about Beautiful Boy for an audience of teenagers.

Timothée Chalamet knows that Beautiful Boy, based on the memoir Tweak written by Nic Sheff (played by Chalamet) and Beautiful Boy written by Nic’s father David Sheff (played by Steve Carell), is obviously about drug addiction.

However, he says the real message lies in the relationships at the heart of the movie.

“The ‘don’t do drugs because they will ruin your life’ narrative, which is very true and very important to know, is out there as effectively as it should be, so this movie tried to address things around it and not that direct message,” People reported Chalamet saying to a crowd of teens at a New York screening of the movie.

In a separate interview, Nic Scheff agreed with Chalamet’s interpretation, saying, “You have to realize that there have been so many movies about addiction that show the downward spiral of a person as the drugs overtake their life. Many of these films show these people hitting bottom, then end with them dying or getting into rehab and ending on a hopeful note. Although there have been some great movies like that, our idea was to do something different. We wanted to show the effect the addiction has on the family because my dad had written about it so amazingly in Beautiful Boy. We wanted to combine the family narrative with the addiction narrative.”

Chalamet had recently joined Sheff in a screening of the film for New York City high school students. On a panel Sheff and Chalamet answered questions, and one student asked if there was any lesson Chalamet thought the movie got across outside of not to “get too mixed up in drugs.”

Chalamet responded thoughtfully. “It’s supposed to portray David and Nic’s story as a firsthand warning of how addiction can ruin one’s life in the personal context, but perhaps more eye-opening, the movie shows how devastating it can be to everyone around the addict.”

The parents of those addicted to a substance often undergo extreme and ongoing trauma. Many times the parents of those with addiction end up struggling with PTSD from the effects of the path of addiction and their child’s numerous close calls with death and prison. 

After the Q&A session Chalamet told People, “Our hope is that it’s not a glorification of drugs or a warning against the glorification of drugs because that’s not what the movie’s about.” 

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.