In Marin / CONVERSATION
we all have the sense that people connect with the story.
The filmmakers — from the director Felix van Groeningen
to the producers and the actors — they were committed to telling the truth about something that is often
portrayed in clichés and stereotypes. I think people who
haven’t been through an experience like this might not
understand that we keep addiction a secret, that there is
a stigma. People experience shame and guilt. It’s not like
other diseases in that way. People feel like they’re alone
and crazy dealing with addiction, and it seems they don’t
feel quite as alone or crazy after seeing this movie. It’s
beautiful in that way. Especially because the director
shows how complicated addiction is, and that there are no
easy answers, which is the experience of everyone who has
gone through this.
Was there anything surprising about the film for either of
you? Nic: I was surprised by how much detail of our lives
they really got right. The car I drove in the movie was just
like the car I actually drove when I was that age, and the
clothes I wore. My little brother Jasper worked on the
movie as a production assistant and the production team
saw his drawings and asked if he would not just help decorate my room in the movie, but also do the drawings for
my journal. So in the scene when Steve Carell is looking
through the journal what you see are my little brother’s
drawings. It was so moving. It was like coming full circle.
Did you have any say in choosing the actors who played
you? Nic: The team came to us and said we want to bring
this package to Steve Carell and my dad and I were both
very excited about that idea. So Steve came on very early.
Timothée didn’t come on until much later. The movie was
set and ready to go and they were just looking for that actor.
We weren’t involved in the audition process, but I will say
that once I met Timothée I immediately felt that he was
the exact right person for this role. He is so smart and was
so committed to doing it right. I felt an immediate sense of
trust, that he was doing it for the right reasons. I know my
father felt that way about Steve too.
David: Oh yeah, for sure. And we must acknowledge the
Nic: Yes, I think his is one of the most subtle and nuanced
genius of Felix van Groeningen. Now the choice is a no-
brainer, as Timothée Chalamet is the most lauded young
actor of his generation, deservedly so, and is being compared
even to James Dean. But it’s remarkable to remember that
Felix found him before he was a big star, before Call Me By
Your Name came out, before anyone knew who he was. Felix
saw it: Timothée is a genius actor.
and complex portrayals of an addict by an actor that I
How did the setting of Marin County play into your story?
David: The part that is meaningful to us is that this is our
home. My wife, Karen, and I first moved to Sausalito when
Nic was 7. We can’t separate the story from our worlds
here, throughout Marin, and especially West Marin — the
beaches that are shown in the movie, the views that we
see. We are very, very fortunate to have this around us. Nic
grew up surfing the beaches here. The part of Marin that
is nature is something that we’ve always been so appreciative of. It is part of us and part of our bond.
Nic: Marin is a specific community with unique prob-
lems, of course, but addiction is an equal opportunity
destroyer and it doesn’t matter what economic or cultural
background someone comes from; it affects everybody.
That is something that is hard for people to understand.
It feels like certain people should be immune. There is an
assumption that people are using drugs because they’re
being selfish or some sort of moral failing, but really it’s a
brain disease, like a mental illness.
David: Yes, and anybody can get it. And people do get it;
it’s a hard reality. We would like to think we can protect
our kids, so we find the best schools, the safest communities. We feel this sense that if we get everything right our
kids will be protected. What we learn is that we can try
our best but there are some things that we just cannot
protect our kids from. Our kids are growing up in a culture
where drugs are every where — every high school in Marin,
every high school in the Bay Area, and every high school in
California and every high school in the country. Parents
are struggling every where. You can’t find a place in the
country that is not affected by drugs.
Are you surfing these days, Nic? Nic: Yes! For me the
amazing thing about getting sober and staying sober is
getting my joy back — all these things that made me happy
when I was young. Going on walks with my dogs, going to
movies. Surfing is a huge part of that. My little sister and
I go surfing almost every morning together. Those little
things that make life worth living and make sobriety worth
living for. I had lost the ability to feel joy through simple
things and now to find that again has been a huge gift. m
To be reminded of what we went through and
how close we came to losing everything, and how
far we’ve come. It was an amazing gift.