Timothee Chalamet has said his research for playing the role of a drug addict in Beautiful Boy made him realise addiction “does not discriminate”.
Chalamet plays Nic Sheff, a young man who became addicted to drugs including cocaine, ecstasy and crystal meth.
In preparing for the role, Chalamet spent time with Sheff himself, as well as in rehab and outpatient meetings.
He said immersing himself in the condition had led him to conclude that the problem “affects anyone”.
The Call Me By Your Name star told the Press Association he believes people in America still feel uncomfortable addressing the problem because it is seen as a sign of moral weakness.
He said: “I feel like I realised, in spending time with Nic Sheff, who I played, and spending time in rehab and outpatients and inpatients and meetings, ‘oh wait a second, a) this is everywhere and b) this has no recognisable face because this disease does not discriminate across race or class or gender.
“It affects anyone.
“Maybe not as much in the UK, but in America we have a real trepidation in talking about it, because it’s seen as a moral failing or taboo or something.
“It’s one of the beautiful things about this movie, I feel it doesn’t really get into the ‘why?’ It gets into the ‘how to get over’ or ‘struggles of getting over’.”
The 23-year-old stars alongside Steve Carell, who is best known for his portrayal of Michael Scott in the American version of The Office.
Chalamet also suggested the film holds a potent message for parents – that addiction, especially to prescription opioids, can begin in the family.
He added: “I’ve had friends go through a similar thing – not to the extremity of this movie, but again there’s a comfort, especially, that parents take in thinking: ‘Well this couldn’t happen to my family or my loved ones because that has a face. Addiction has a face.’
“And tragically, especially in America, because the numbers are going up and up and up and this is the most devastating disease or killer for people under 50, there is no face. Particularly the opiates… that’s a whole other tangent.
“I was just reading a thing that said that most people who have opiate addiction are started from prescriptions or getting it from family members, so it’s not like they’re going to some street corner.”
Beautiful Boy is due for release on January 18.