“Brutally honest” is how Maura Tierney describes her new film “Beautiful Boy,” which chronicles the real-life experiences of a father (Steve Carell) trying desperately to help his drug-addicted son Nic (Timothee Chalamet). Her role as stepmom is challenging, even frustrating, because Karen has limited authority to intervene, but she can always remain emotionally supportive. “So that’s the part of the role that I was focused on and interested in: the depth of her love for him, being a stepparent.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Tierney above.
Karen is David’s second wife. Because the two got married when Nic was still a child, “she really did a lot of parenting. She was a mother to him, and they had a very deep connection.” But at the same time she’s protective of the children she has with David. “She’s kind of stuck in the middle between this really deep fondness and love for her stepchild, who was creating chaos for her other children. So I think she had so much empathy for him, and yet so much frustration that he was causing so much pain for the family. But that’s what addiction does. You love someone, but they alienate you. They end up alienating everybody.”
In portraying Karen, Tierney wanted to explore the ties “between people that get into relationships because of marriage” because “there can be an intense bond” between in-laws, stepchildren, half-siblings, etc. While you don’t choose those people, “sometimes there can be a profound love or connection that’s almost random in a way.”
Tierney has yet to be nominated for an Oscar, but she has twice competed at the Emmys for Best Drama Supporting Actress (“ER” in 2001 and “The Affair” in 2016). Her role on “The Affair” also brought her a Golden Globe win in 2016. “Beautiful Boy” opened in theaters on October 12.
The film is based on a pair of memoirs written by David Sheff and his son, Nic Sheff, so “you really get to see exactly what happened because in David’s book, when Nic is missing, Nic fills in the details of what he was doing,” Tierney adds.
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