Beautiful Boy was snubbed by the Oscars, and Timothée Chalamet along with it. However, the actor, who starred as the protagonist in the film based on a true story about how drug addiction fractured the relationship between a son and his father, isn’t letting that stop him from campaigning for the film’s importance. Chalamet was joined by Beautiful Boy author David Sheff (the real-life father of Chalamet’s character, Nic), as well as the movie's producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, for a Q&A hosted by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime.
To bring the complex role to life, Chalamet said his main concern was never to glamorize addiction.
"I had a notebook for this movie that said, 'look for the light.' I felt like that was more where the movie found itself," he told the audience, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "You have movies like Christiane F., Heaven Knows What, and Trainspotting that function as raw portrayals of addiction but that's not what the goal here was. And when I met Nic, I felt like all of the keys presented themselves because I didn't have to cross some huge bridge and be in pain or romanticize how I'm going to play a drug addict. Because meeting him, he's exactly how David describes him in his book. He's just a light, kind-hearted, funny human being. And it made it easier because I felt like I wasn't playing a drug addict, I was playing a human who was addicted to drugs."
Scheff, who is personified by Steve Carrell in the film, also commended Chalamet’s performance, saying, “There's not a moment in the film where you can't tell that Nic is in pain."
But this wasn't just a Q&A about the film — it was also an opportunity to shed light on the growing epidemic of addiction.
"Our treatment system — if you can even call it a system — is a disaster. It's in complete disarray. We know that addiction is a disease, and yet when someone is sick, we don't even know where to start," Sheff continued, later adding, "It's easy to forget that they are in enormous pain, so the last thing they need to be is shamed and to be punished more than they are already punishing themselves."
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.