The Belgian director also tells TooFab about the challenges of creating his first American film.
"Beautiful Boy" director Felix Van Groeningen told TooFab his main goal in portraying addiction onscreen was simply to make it as authentic as possible.
"I mean this film is based not on one book, but two books, the father and the son, and they both talk about their experiences," Van Groeningen said while at the Hollywood Film Awards Sunday. "And when I read it, it was really an eye opener. I understood something that I had never understood in that way, that addiction really is a disease [and] that it's also treatable."
"I didn't want to shock people with this film," he continued. "I wanted to tell the truth. David and Nic in their books have been super honest. Honest in a raw way, but also in a very beautiful way, so I wanted to get that right."
"Beautiful Boy," which is based on both memoirs by David and Nic Sheff, follows the true story of a father's struggle through his son's methamphetamine addiction. In the heartbreaking drama, Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet play David and Nic, respectively, in powerful performances that have both actors buzzed to receive Oscar nominations this year. The film exemplifies the frustrating and gut-wrenching experience of addiction, relapse, and recovery.
Chalamet, who lost a whopping 18 pounds for the role, received the Supporting Actor award at HFA, where Van Groeningen received the Breakthrough Director's Award from Brad Pitt. (Pitt owns Plan B Entertainment, which produced "Beautiful Boy.")
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Van Groeningen explained that working with Carell and Chalamet was an "incredibly profound experience."
"I connected with them on a very different level, but they also connected with each other on a very beautiful level," he said. "I mean it just clicked and they were father and son sort of. So when you see it happen as a director, you can only be grateful and enjoy it."
"Beautiful Boy" is the first American film for Van Groeningen. The director told TooFab that the greatest challenge about creating a movie here wasn't the language barrier, but the funding process.
"It took time. It's a different way of funding," he said. "The pieces really have to come together. In Belgium, we're more used to like a year upfront note that you're going to shoot here. All of a sudden it comes together, then you have to go really quick, which is exciting when it happens, but we had a moment where we had to wait and that's was a little anxiety-provoking."