Australia’s own Phoebe Tonkin is returning to her roots with Netflix’s new TV series, Boy Swallows Universe.
Set in the working-class suburban life of 1980s Brisbane, Boy Swallows Universe is the adaptation of Trent Dalton’s coming-of-age novel which combines magic and innocence of youth with the brutal reality of the adult world.
Eli Bell, played by Felix Cameron, is an articulate 12-year-old boy trying to follow his heart and what it means to be a good man. The film toys with the themes of good versus evil and everyday versus the extraordinary.
The synopsis for the novel reads: “Eli Bell’s life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail and his stepdad is a heroin dealer.”
“The most steadfast adult in Eli’s life is Slim — a notorious felon and national record-holder for successful prison escapes — who watches over Eli and August, Eli’s silent genius of an older brother… A story of brotherhood, true love, family, and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be.”
The author, who is also a consultant on the series, revealed seeing the pages of his book come to life was confronting.
“When I turned up on set, this beautiful young actor [Felix] was in a sky-blue school uniform, which was exactly the uniform I wore as a kid,” Trent, 44, told Marie Claire magazine.
“So when I walked in, everyone’s going, ‘Trent, this must be the most amazing moment of your life.’ And it was actually the most deeply confronting, jarring, bone-shaking moment. I went straight up to this kid and went, ‘Are you alright?'”
Phoebe, most known for her roles in H20 and The Vampire Diaries, has swapped her timeless sheik look as she takes on the role of Eli’s mother, Frances Bell who is recovering from a drug addiction.
Meanwhile, Vikings star Travis Fimmel – who is also returning home to Australia – stars as Eli’s father Lyle Orlik, a drug dealing father who gets caught up with some questionable people. In turn, his son Eli gets caught in the mix.
Among the main characters includes Simon Baker as Robert Bell, Zac Burgess as older Eli Bell and Lee Tiger Halley as Gus Bell.
The Netflix film is directed by Bharat Nalluri and Jocelyn Moorhouse, written by John Collee and executive produced by Joel Edgerton, Troy Lum, Andrew Mason, Kerry Kohansky-Roberts and Sophie Gardiner.
Boy Swallows Universe releases on Netflix on January 11, 2024.