About a Boy


1h 41m 2002

Brief Synopsis

Will is a rich, child-free, irresponsible Londoner who, in search of available women, invents an imaginary son and starts attending single parent meetings. As a result of his liaisons, he meets Marcus, an odd 12-year-old with problems at school and a depressed mother at home. Gradually Will and Marc

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG-13
Genre
Adaptation
Comedy
Drama
Romance
Romantic Comedy
Release Date
May 17, 2002
Premiere Information
UK opening: 26 Apr 2002
Production Company
KALIMA Productions GmbH & Co. KG.; Le Studio Canal; Tribeca Productions; Universal Pictures; Working Title Films
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
London, England, United Kingdom; Clerkenwell Green, London, England; Finsbury, London, England; Kentish Town, London, England; London Zoo, London, England; Notting Hill, London, England; Regent's Park, London, England; St. James Walk, London, England; St. James's Walk, London, England
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel About a Boy by Nick Hornby (London, 1998).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Film Length
9,101ft

Synopsis

Will, an immature, self-absorbed, thirty-eight-year-old bachelor, lives in a well-appointed London flat, surrounded by all the latest gadgetry. Will has never worked and lives off the royalties of a popular Christmas song, "Santa's Super Sleigh," the only hit of his late, songwriter father. Although he enjoys seducing many women, Will is incapable of forming any meaningful relationships and fears commitment and parenthood. After his married friend Christine sets him up with one of her co-workers, Angie, the mother of a three-year- old boy, Will begins another temporary relationship. He is surprised, however, when, in a reversal of his normal routine, Angie thinks that Will is sensitive and supportive. After announcing that he is too good for her, she breaks up with him to attempt a reconciliation with her husband. Will then gleefully realizes that there must be many other single mothers who are not looking for a long-term commitment, and after locating a self-help group called SPAT, Single Parents Alone Together, attends one of their meetings, posing as the single father of a two-year-old son. Suzie, one of the mothers, shows an interest in Will, and they arrange to go on a picnic in Regent's Park. Faced with having to create evidence of his caring for a child, Will quickly buys an infant's car seat for his imaginary boy. On the day of the picnic, Will explains to Suzie that his ex-wife has suddenly picked up his son for a visit. Suzie brings along the son of her best friend Fiona, twelve-year-old Marcus, who is not impressed by Will. However, when Marcus accidentally kills one of the park's ducks with Fiona's stone-hard loaf of homemade bread, Will comes to his defense against the park keeper, and Marcus begins to look at him differently. When Will and Suzie drive Marcus home they discover that Fiona, a vegetarian hippie suffering from chronic bouts of depression, has attempted suicide. Later, after Fiona recovers and returns home, she resumes her tentative relationship with her son, who suffers at school due to his unconventional upbringing and nerdy appearance. Marcus, feeling that he cannot cope with his mother's problems by himself, decides he needs a back-up person in his family and phones Will to arrange for the three of them to meet in a restaurant. Will is not remotely interested in Fiona, nor is she interested in him, and the meeting goes badly. Over several days, Marcus follows Will during his aimless, self-indulgent excursions, then goes to his flat, accuses him of not having a son and offers not to tell anyone if Will agrees to date his mother. Will declines but Marcus does not give up and begins, without telling his mother, to visit Will every afternoon after school to watch Countdown , Will's favorite television quiz show. Will begins to soften toward the boy when he learns that he is bullied at school because of his hair and out-of-fashion clothes, and takes him shopping for a pair of stylish sneakers. After paying for the shoes, Will realizes that he feels good about making Marcus happy. When the sneakers are stolen at school and Marcus arrives home shoeless on a stormy day, he is forced to tell Fiona about his visits with Will and that Will is not a father. Fearing the worst about Will's interest in her son, Fiona confronts Will in a restaurant, but he responds by criticizing her for not being aware of the torment Marcus is enduring in school. Fiona suddenly realizes that she has been misguided and asks Will to continue to see Marcus, but he is reluctant. Will, however, does accept Marcus' invitation to join them for a Christmas dinner at their house, where he meets Marcus' father and his current girl friend. Unfortunately for Will, Suzie is also invited and is angry with Will for lying about being a parent. To Will's surprise, Marcus defends him, telling his mother that Will understands what kids need. At a New Year's Eve party, Will meets Rachel, another single mother with a boy about Marcus' age, and Will finds himself allowing her to believe that the boy he is speaking about is his son. Because Will is very attracted to Rachel, he is forced to enlist Marcus' help in sustaining the deception when he visits Rachel at her home. Ali, Rachel's maladjusted son, is in the same year at school as Marcus and, when they are alone, menacingly warns Marcus that he does not want his "father" becoming involved with his mother. Marcus suggests to Will that he should tell Rachel the truth about their relationship, and some time later, over dinner, Will begins by telling her that he is not Marcus' natural father, then digs himself into a deeper hole until he is forced to confess the whole scheme and admit to being a "nothing." One day, after Marcus finds his mother crying again, he assumes it is a prelude to another suicide attempt and decides to try to cheer and please her by signing up to perform her favorite song, "Killing Me Softly with His Song," at a school rock concert. Marcus also asks Will to aid his mother, forcing Will, who is depressed over losing Rachel, the only woman he has ever cared about, to admit to him that he is unable to help in any meaningful way. Will begins to realize that his life is shallow and that knowing Marcus is the only thing that means something to him. Will then goes to another SPAT meeting and admits to all the mothers that he attended simply to meet women, whom he thought he could easily seduce. When Fiona tells Will that Marcus is singing in the school concert, Will realizes that the boy, who has no singing talent, will be further humiliated by performing the 1970s ballad in front of his rock- and rap-loving peers, and they both rush to the school to stop him. Even though the naïve Fiona feels that Marcus is simply expressing himself, Will convinces Fiona that Marcus is not expressing himself, but her. Meanwhile, the boy who was to accompany Marcus on a recorder decides not to subject himself to the embarrassment and drops out. When Will and Fiona reach the school, Will hurries backstage and tries to persuade Marcus not to perform, but he insists. Marcus is booed and heckled by his schoolmates, except Ellie, a popular girl on whom Marcus has a crush. Then Will suddenly appears from the wings with a guitar and plays and sings along with Marcus, eliciting a good response from the audience and saving the boy from social suicide. He also impresses Rachel, who is in the audience to watch Ali's performance. After the concert, Fiona thanks Marcus for the song and promises him that she will always be around. A few months later, Will hosts a Christmas dinner at his flat, with Fiona, Marcus, Rachel, Ali, Ellie and Tom, an Amnesty International worker who Will thinks would be perfect for Fiona. They have become a mutually supportive group of parents and children, and Will is considering asking Rachel to marry him. Thanks to Marcus, his twelve-year-old friend, Will has finally matured and come to realize, late in life, the value of friendship and commitment.

Cast

Hugh Grant

Will

Nicholas Hoult

Marcus

Sharon Small

Christine

Madison Cook

Imogen

Jordan Cook

Imogen

Nicholas Hutchison

John

Ryan Speechley

Barney

Joseph Speechley

Barney

Toni Collette

Fiona

Nat Gastiain Tena

Ellie

Laura Kennington

Tanika Swaby

Peter Mcnicholl

Christopher Webster

Ben Ridgeway

Lee, the bully

Jack Warren

Lee's sidekick

Russell Barr

Maitre d'

Isabel Brook

Angie

Orlando Thor Newman

Angie's kid

Paulette Williams

Fritha Goodey

Susannah Doyle

Delma Walsh

Jonathan Franklin

Mark

John Kamal

Nicky

Tessa Vale

Class teacher

Lorna Dallison

Woman in supermarket

Bethany Muir

Child in supermarket

Bruce Alexander

Husband in supermarket

Joyce Henderson

Moira/SPAT

Jenny Galloway

Frances/SPAT

Janine Duvitski

Caroline/SPAT

Sue Hyams

Maggie Kahal

Lynn Askew

Beverly Millward

Danielle Harvey

Anna Maria Credenzone Philip

Sarah King

Susan Ghamsary

Edna Johnson

Victoria Smurfit

Suzie

Frog Stone

Mothercare shop assistant

Buddy Hunter

Kristine Perrin

Nathan Perrin-hunter

Rachael Perrin-hunter

Amy Craven

Suzie`s baby Megan

Rebecca Craven

Suzie`s baby Megan

Sidney Livingstone

Park keeper

Cathy Murphy

Nurse

Joanne Petitt

Hairdresser

Jason Salkey

Tom/Amnesty International worker

Annabelle Apsion

Amnesty International worker

Matt Wilkinson

Amnesty International worker

Peter Roy

Will's dad

Matthew Thomas

Aaron Keeling

Scott Charles

Claire Harman

Skechers shopgirl

Sian Martin

Cute waitress

Mark Drewry

Clive

Denise Stephenson

Lindsey

Rosalind Knight

Lindsey's mum

Rachel Weisz

Rachel

Murray Lachlan Young

New Year's Eve party guest

Augustus Prew

Ali

Alex Kew

Simon Cosgrove

Mark Heap

Math teacher

Sunanda Biswas

James Marshall-gunn

Jamie Mayer

Korede Obashju

Roger Brierley

Mr. Chalmers, the MC

Steffan Pejic

Apple thrower

Crew

John Adefarasin

Loader, addl crew

Remi Adefarasin

Director of Photography

Rene Adefarasin

Loader

Vicki Allen

Floor runner, addl crew

Harry Alley

Painter

Joseph Alley

Carpenter

Julian Andraus

2d Assistant Editor

Nick Angel

Music Supervisor

Barry Arnold

Stand-by props

John Arnold

Key grip

Devina Artley

Costume Department runner

Badly Drawn Boy

Mus/Songs prod

Vanessa Baker

ADR voice casting

Guy Barker

Composer

Nicky Kentish Barnes

Co-producer

Sam Barnes

Loader, addl crew

Jimmy Batchelor

Minibus driver

Kellie Belle

Product placement Manager

Bernard Bellew

Production Manager

Tim Bevan

Producer

Roy Biggs

Stagehand

John Bohan

Const Manager

John Botton

Dressing props

Christian Bourne

Sound Assistant

Steve Boyd

Facilities driver

Pete Brewis

Composer

Andy Brown

Orchestra contracted by

Stuart Bunting

Grip, addl crew

Alan Burrows

Props stand-by driver

John Bush

Set Decoration

Paul Cafferty

U.S. post prod accounting

Richard Cain

UK liaison to the Weitz Brothers

Chris Carpenter

Re-rec mixer

Daryl Carter

Carpenter

Neil Chaplin

Prod accountant

Roy Chapman

Dressing props, chargehand

James Chasey

Stand-in for Mr. Grant

Liza Chasin

Co-producer

Martin Chitty

Costume Assistant

Nikki Clapp

Script Supervisor

Jo Mclaren Clark

Craft service

Phil Clark

Loc scout, addl crew

Tania Clarke

UK Avid Assistant Editor

Jim Clay

Production Design

Adam Clayton

Composer

Paul Clegg

2d Assistant Editor

John Cloke

Stand-by painter

Andre Cooper

Camera truck driver

Colin Cooper

ADR rec

David Cozens

Focus puller

Simon Cozens

1st Assistant Editor

Manuela Cripps

Assistant Coordinator

Graham Crowther

Stunt Coordinator

Norval Crutcher Iii

ADR Editor

Sara Curran

Head of legal & business affairs for Working Title

Tony Dawe

Sound Mixer

Robert De Niro

Producer

Peter Devlin

Unit driver

Laura Dickens

Casting Assistant

Wayne Docksey

Fish animal handler

Brendan Donnison

ADR voice casting

Ian Drinkwater

Minibus driver

Paul Duff

Stand-by carpenter

Peter Duffy

Carpenter

Kevin Early

Loc Assistant

Matt Eddy

Weitz Brothers prod Executive

Andy Edridge

Grip, addl crew

Louise Egan

Costume Assistant

Paul Englishby

Guitar teacher/On set Music adv

Brad Epstein

Producer

Dave Evans

Composer

Jules Faiers

Art Department graphics

José Feliciano

Composer

Eric Fellner

Producer

Louise Fernandez

Loc Assistant, addl crew

Claire Finlay

Costume Supervisor

Michael Finlay

Scenic painter

Steve Fletcher

Tutor

Charles Fox

Composer

Eric Francks

Unit driver

Ian Franklin

Best Boy

Mike Frasers

Dailies telecine

Gary Freeman

Art Director

Maestro Garofalo

Composer

Michael Gaster

Set intern

Peter Gathard

Facilities driver

Gary Gerlich

Sound Editing

Shefali Ghosh

Chief financial officer for Working Title

Heidi Gibb

Draughts person

Barry Gibbs

Props Master

Pauline Gill

Stand-in for Toni Collette

Lee Gilmore

Apprentice Sound Editor

Norman Gimbel

Composer

Tom Glaisyer

Floor runner, addl crew

Nicholas Goodall

Carpenter

Damon Gough

Composer

Marilyn Graf

Foley Editor

Charlie Grainger

Camera trainee

David Haberfield

Scenic painter

Ruth Halliday

Script clearance

Gordon Hampton

Facilities driver

Imran Hanif

Composer

Rosie Hardwick

Assistant art Director

Bill Hargreaves

Chargehand stand-by props

Robert Harper

Painter

Tarn Harper

Post prod accountant

Lynn Harris

Executive Producer

Deborah Harry

Composer

Steve Hart

Loc Manager

Peter Hawkins

HOD rigger

Debra Hayward

Co-producer

Peter Hedges

Screenwriter

Paul Hewson

Composer

Dennis Holiday

Rigging Electrician

William Hooper

Sound Editing

Nick Hornsby

Executive Producer

Glenis Hoult

Chaperone

Ben Howarth

2d Assistant Director

Nigel Hughes

Scenic artist, addl crew

Charles E. Hugo

Composer

James Hunt

Scenic artist, addl crew

Charles Martin Inouye

Supervisor Music Editor

Carmel Jackson

Makeup Artist

Jake Jackson

Orch eng

Paul Jackson

Health & Safety

Aliza James

Assistant to Eric Fellner for Working Title

Priscilla John

Casting

Ian Johnson

Const run around driver

Graham Johnston

Makeup and hair Designer

Joanna Johnston

Costume Design

Michael Johnstone

Craft service

David Jones

Supervisor stagehand

Hardy Justice

Co-producer

Townley Knott

Facilities HOD

Andy Koyama

Re-rec mixer

Lays Transport

Art Department transport

Richard Legrand Jr.

Supervisor Sound Editor

Sara Lineberger

Post prod Coordinator

Jaime Lunn

Mix Assistant eng

Ann Lynch

Prod Coordinator

Meghan Lyvers

Assistant to Jane Rosenthal

Joti Mangat

Composer

Steve Manger

Facilities driver

Stacy Mann

Unit Publicist

Helen Mattocks

Key set Costume

Jill Mccullough

Voice and dial coach

Lorna Mcgowan

Makeup Artist

Laura Mcintosh

Makeup artist, addl crew

Steve Mclaughlin

Original score prod

Steve Mclaughlin At North Pole Studio

Score mixed by

Rod Mclean

Supervisor art Director

Eamon Mcloughlin

HOD carpenter

Robert Mcnabb

ADR Supervisor

Bill Meadows

Recording

Callum Metcalfe

Assistant to Tim Bevan for Working Title

Jamie Mills

Electrician

Steve Mitchel

Supervisor scenic artist, addl crew

Theresa Repola Mohammed

Negative cutting

Paul Monaghan

Prod runner

Nick Moore

Editing

Barrie More

Rigging gaffer

Angela Morrison

Chief operating officer for Working Title

David Moss

Electrician

Larry Mullen

Composer

Ronald Narduzzo

Unit driver

Rob Nash

Piano teacher

Kathy Nelson

Executive in charge of film Music for Universal Studios

Chris Newman

1st Assistant Director

Roger Nichols

Composer

Patrick O'sullivan

Sound Editing

Jay Jay Odedra

Focus puller, addl crew

Harriet Orman

Prod buyer

Catherine Oxley-mcleod

Nurse

Graham Pamment

Makeup truck driver

Jim Passon

Col timer

Darryl Patterson

Storeman

Bryan Pennington

Dolby Sound consultant

David Pinnington

Loc Supervisor

Joy Pollard

Tutor

Sam Pollit

Floor runner, addl crew

Jason Potter

Accounts Assistant

Terry Reece

Unit driver

Ron Rinaldi

Composer

Nora Robertson

Makeup artist, addl crew

Peter Robertson

"A" Camera op/Steadicam

Jane Rosenthal

Producer

Tom Rothrock

Songs prod

Renee Ryel

U.S. post prod accounting

Victor Santiago

Composer

Chris Seddon

Drapes

Len Serpent

Stand-by stagehand

Patrick Seymour

Score Arrangements and Conductor

Sheeraz Shah

Vice President, legal & business affairs for Working Title

Emma Short

Assistant accountant

Tony Smith

Facilities driver

Laurie Sparham

Stills Photographer

Walter Spencer

Dial Editor

Guy Speranza

Assistant Costume Designer

Mike Standish

Prod buyer

Jack Steed

Stand-in for Nicholas Hoult

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG-13
Genre
Adaptation
Comedy
Drama
Romance
Romantic Comedy
Release Date
May 17, 2002
Premiere Information
UK opening: 26 Apr 2002
Production Company
KALIMA Productions GmbH & Co. KG.; Le Studio Canal; Tribeca Productions; Universal Pictures; Working Title Films
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
London, England, United Kingdom; Clerkenwell Green, London, England; Finsbury, London, England; Kentish Town, London, England; London Zoo, London, England; Notting Hill, London, England; Regent's Park, London, England; St. James Walk, London, England; St. James's Walk, London, England
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel About a Boy by Nick Hornby (London, 1998).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Film Length
9,101ft

Award Nominations

Best Adapted Screenplay

2002

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A 20 October 1997 Daily Variety article stated that Tribeca Productions, headed by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, and New Line Cinema had bought the rights to Nick Hornby's about-to-be published novel Father Figure (earlier known as Odd Numbers) for $2.75 million, outbidding Miramax and Warner Bros. According to the film's pressbook, Hornby's subsequently published novel sold more than one million copies in the UK alone, and rights were sold in more than twenty countries. Two other novels by Hornby, Fever Pitch and High Fidelity were made into feature films by Working Title Films, in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Tribeca entered into a partnership with Working Title, which had earlier produced three highly successful films with Hugh Grant, whose own company had considered buying Hornby's novel, and he committed to the project.
       On December 7, 1998, Variety reported that Peter Hedges had written a screenplay for the project, now titled About a Boy, and that Iain Softley had been signed to direct. Hedges's screenplay retained the London setting but portrayed the principal character, "Will," as an American. A Daily Variety article of November 28, 2000 stated that Softley had left the project over casting disagreements and that the writing-directing team of Chris and Paul Weitz, who had previously tried to acquire film rights to the novel, had been signed to direct. On January 24, 2001, Daily Variety reported that due to corporate restructuring at New Line, About a Boy had been "put into turnaround," although the Weitz brothers had just completed a rewrite of the screenplay and Grant was still attached to the project. Two days later, on January 26, 2001, a Daily Variety article indicated that Universal Pictures, which had a new pact with Tribeca, was about to conclude negotiations to acquire the property budgeted at $30 million. Other contenders included Fox 2000, Miramax and DreamWorks.
       Shooting began in mid-April 2001 with London exteriors in St. James's Walk, Clerkenwell Green ("Will's" flat), in Kentish Town ("Fiona's" house), Notting Hill ("Rachel's" home) and Finsbury ("Marcus's" school). Other locations included Regent's Park and London Zoo. After seven weeks on location, the production moved to Shepperton Studios, where the interior of Will's flat and Fiona's house were built.
       Throughout the film Will and Marcus, in inner monologue voice-overs, comment upon the developments. The film's musical score was created by Badly Drawn Boy, the stage name of Damon Gough. The film's opening credits list Hugh Grant, Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz above the main title and include the following supporting actors: Isabel Brook, Sharon Small, Victoria Smurfit "and introducing Nicholas Hoult as Marcus." Although he had never appeared in a motion picture before, Hoult had previously worked on various British television productions.
       The film's closing credits include the following acknowledgments: "Scene from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, courtesy of Celador Productions; Scenes from Countdown, courtesy of Yorkshire TV; Scene from Xena: Warrior Princess, courtesy of Studios USA Television Distribution LLC; Scene from Pet Rescue, courtesy of Endemol Entertainment UK Pic and Channel 4 Television; Scene from Bride of Frankenstein, courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing, Inc.; Scene from Billy Elliot, courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing, Inc." The credits also include a number of acknowledgments of thanks to various individuals and organizations, and to companies that provided products for the film.
       In addition to being selected by AFI as one of the top ten films of 2002, About a Boy received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy and for Hugh Grant as Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also selected as one of Newsweeks' Top 15 films of 2002 and was nominated by the London Film Critics Circle Awards for British Film of the Year and Best British Actor (Grant). Collette received the Best Supporting Actress Award from the Boston Society of Film Critics and Hoult was nominated as Best Young Actor by the Critics Choice Awards.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted one of the 10 best films of 2002 by the American Film Institute (AFI).

Nominated for the 2002 award for Best British Actor (Hugh Grant) by the London Film Critics Circle.

Nominated for the 2002 award for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Writer's Guild of America (WGA).

Released in United States Spring May 17, 2002

Expanded Release in United States May 24, 2002

Released in United States on Video December 10, 2002

Released in United States on Video January 14, 2003

Released in United States May 2002

Shown at Tribeca Film Festival in New York City May 8-12, 2002.

Catherine Zeta-Jones was previously mentioned to star.

Iain Softley was previously attached to direct.

George Clooney was previously mentioned to star.

Project was previously in development at New Line.

Nick Hornby reportedly received $2.75 million for the motion picture rights to this novel.

Nick Hornby reportedly received $2.75 million for the motion picture rights to this novel.

Released in United States Spring May 17, 2002

Expanded Release in United States May 24, 2002

Released in United States on Video December 10, 2002

Released in United States on Video January 14, 2003

Released in United States May 2002 (Shown at Tribeca Film Festival in New York City May 8-12, 2002.)