Entertainment03 March 2022
That sound you hear is my heart exploding. Internal fireworks popping and flashing in pinks and purples and golds. Let me scrape my jaw from the floor and whisper those words again and make sure this dream is true: BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE IS BEING ADAPTED FOR THE SCREEN FOR NETFLIX! An epic multi-part limited television series traversing the darkness of the Australian suburbs and the fabric of the human heart and stretching to the edges of the universe and our wildest dreams. My boyhood potty mouth always comes out in times like these. I start dropping random whispered F-bombs around the house. Talking to myself before mirrors in the bathroom and such: “How the flippin’ heck did it all come to this?”
The incredible Australian producer Troy Lum from Brouhaha Entertainment and the one and only Joel Edgerton (from the Blue-Tongue Films Collective) – yep, that glorious and gifted Australian actor-screenwriter-director-producer bloke – are teaming up to bring a truly hyper-Australian story of crime, love and wonder into living rooms on Netflix.
Australian yarn. Australian cast and crew together with Australian Netflix partners. A lucky Australian boy, and a massive audience.
When I was a boy, my three older brothers and I found a secret underground room beneath the outer-western Brisbane house of a dangerously successful Queensland heroin dealer whom my mother loved with all her heart. Inside that secret room was nothing but four brick walls and a rotary dial red telephone. I never understood as a boy why that phone was in that room or who could possibly be on the other end of that line. In 2018, I wrote a book called Boy Swallows Universe that suggested that phone existed for magic. I wrote about all the very real things I saw as a kid growing up in the outer suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, in the 1980s: drug addiction, drug dealing, ex-cons and ex-killers, imprisonment, poverty, violence and love. So much love. And so much hope. So much discovery of hope through the power of love.
When I was a boy, television was escape. You can’t see the holes in the fibro walls when all you see is Winnie Cooper’s face on The Wonder Years. I always dreamed about what it would be like to see stories on my television screen from the world that I knew. Stories about the 70 per cent or so of Australians who seemed to live like me on the outer fringes of our major cities but who seemed to occupy about 10 per cent of our national storytelling. I never saw the world I knew in books, in movies, in television. That often brutal suburban Australian world that was just outside my window and the magical world secretly growing inside my head.
Boy Swallows Universe is every aspect of that world. And people across this wild earth are about to step inside that world with their ears and eyes and hearts wide open. That notion leaves me breathless. Boy Swallows Universe is about a boy who receives a message on a red rotary dial telephone in a secret underground room that tells him he must bust into Brisbane’s notorious Boggo Road Prison to save his mum’s life on Christmas Day. And the book is about a brutal and magical world that I believe is true. I wish I had a magical red rotary dial phone right now. I would call up my 12-year-old self: “Hey kid, you’re right. It does get good. It gets so good that – around late February 2022 - you’re gonna have to come up with new dreams to dream.”
I truly can’t wait for you all to step inside Boy Swallows Universe, coming soon to Netflix!
About Boy Swallows Universe
Production Company: Brouhaha Entertainment Australia
Episodes: 8 x 1 hour
Executive Producers: Troy Lum (The Water Diviner, Saving Mr Banks, Mao’s Last
Dancer), Andrew Mason (The Matrix, The Water Diviner), Sophie Gardiner (Howard’s End, Chimerica) , Kerry Roberts (Foe, Boy Erased) and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Bright, The King)
Writers: John Collee (Master and Commander, Happy Feet, Hotel Mumbai)
Quote from Que Minh Luu, Netflix Director of Content, ANZ
“Boy Swallows Universe is truly something special, and it's an enormous privilege to partner with Trent Dalton, Joel Edgerton and Brouhaha Entertainment in bringing this genuinely iconic Australian story to Netflix.
“As Australians we know how much investing in local content matters. Boy Swallows Universe is a major milestone in our mission to unearth uniquely local stories that bring joy and connection in unexpected ways to our audiences here at home, and throughout the world.”
About Trent Dalton
Trent Dalton is one of Australia’s best-loved and bestselling authors, whose books have sold over 750,000 copies in Australia alone. Trent is a staff writer for the Weekend Australian Magazine and a former assistant editor of The Courier Mail. He’s a two-time winner of a Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism, a four-time winner of a Kennedy Award for Excellence in NSW Journalism and a four-time winner of the national News Awards Features Journalist of the Year. His number 1 bestselling debut novel, Boy Swallows Universe, broke records to become the fastest selling Australian debut novel ever, according to Nielsen Bookscan. Boy Swallows Universe has been published globally across 34 English language and translation territories and has won many major Australian literary prizes including the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writer and People’s Choice, the Indie Book of the Year and a record-breaking four ABIA Awards.