Boy Swallows Universe
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Interview: Trent Dalton reveals how much of Netflix’s Boy Swallows Universe is actually real

"It’s a story about a kid who wants to bust into a women’s prison on Christmas Day to save his mum’s life.”

Netflix’s Boy Swallows Universe is the coming-of-age story that loosely follows Trent Dalton’s upbringing and experiences in the 1980s.

As some may already know, Dalton is the author behind the book of the same name that the series was based on.

As it goes with many based-on-a-true-story series, fans are wondering just how much of the story is about his real life.

So, Chattr sat down with Dalton to find exactly that out. Turns out the story is “50/50” fact and fiction.

Boy Swallows Universe. Netflix.

“It’s from my real life,” he said before adding that the main character, Eli (Felix Cameron) “does a lot of what I would have [done if I could]. It was all wishful thinking. All the fiction was wishful thinking.”

Trent Dalton’s mum did go to jail

One of the main storylines in Boy Swallows Universe centres around Eli’s mum Frances Bell (Phoebe Tonkin) being locked up.

“My mum did time for two years in the late 80s,” he said, adding that a lot of that time was spent “just missing her.”

Dalton stressed that there were many parallels between the series and his real-life in regard to his mum’s time in jail.

“It’s a story about a kid who wants to bust into a women’s prison on Christmas Day to save his mum’s life,” he said. “You know, my mum loved Christmas and she shouldn’t have been spending Christmas inside a prison.”

Boy Swallows Universe
Boy Swallows Universe. Netflix.

His struggles with his father were portrayed in the series

When Dalton’s mother was in jail, he desperately wanted to see her but was somewhat stopped by his father.

“There were times when our old man wasn’t taking us up [to see our mum],” he said. “And for good reason. It was just a s–tty time.”

“But It was a good move from dad,” he added: “He had all sorts of other anxieties and stuff that didn’t get him out of the house much…We saw her a couple of times. But you don’t want to see your mum like that.”

The acclaimed author said that this was accurately portrayed in the series.

Simon Baker [who played his father Robert Bell], who made my 16-year-old daughter weep for her dead grandfather and made her understand who that guy really was.”

Stream Boy Swallows Universe on Netflix from January 11.

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