Everything To Know About Trent Dalton’s ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ Netflix Adaptation

The homegrown Australian story is getting the screen treatment.
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It’s a story of brotherhood, love, loss and the unstoppable desire to chase your dreams. Boy Swallows Universe was the first book Trent Dalton released, and was met with global acclaim for it’s unflinching, heartbreakingly honest portrayal of life and all its many shortcomings. 

Now, the Australian author’s debut work is getting the Netflix treatment, with an eight-part series coming soon. As the streaming giant pledges to invest more time and money into local content, it makes sense that Boy Swallows Universe would find a home here, and anyone who loved the book will be patiently awaiting its arrival. 

“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!” ,author Trent Dalton wrote. 

For those who have been counting down the days to catch a glimpse at the long-awaited screen adaptation, your time has come. Netflix has officially released the first teaser, and it’s just as captivating as we’d hoped.

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So, in honour of this sneak peek, below, everything we know about the project so far. 


What is the plot of Boy Swallows Universe? 

The book follows the life of Eli Bell, a young boy living in a housing estate on the fringes of Brisbane in the 1980s. His father is nowhere to be found, his mother is in jail and his stepfather is a heroin dealer. His brother August, is somewhat of a silent genius, and the only stable figure the boy’s have in their lives is Slim, a notorious felon who watches over them both. 

Eli dreams of a career in journalism, but the reality of his life is suffocatingly bleak and trouble is always on the horizon. The book is about a boy on the cusp of adulthood, trying to learn what it means to be a good man while falling in love and fighting for his family. 

While Netflix may take some creative license here and there, it’s assumed that the series will stay true to the book, especially given that the author himself is involved in the project. 

Who will star in Boy Swallows Universe? 

Given how central Australia is to the storyline, the Netflix series has employed a homegrown cast to bring the story to life. 

Vikings star Travis Fimmel will play Lyle Orlik, Simon Baker is taking on the role of Robert Bell and H2O: Just Add Water star Phoebe Tonkin is playing Frances Bell. As for the leading child characters, Eli Bell will be played by Felix Cameron and Lee Tiger Halley will play Gus Bell. 

Bryan Brown, Anthony La Paglia and Sophie Wilde are also joining the cast as Slim Halliday, Tytus Broz and Caitlyn Spies respectively.

Executive producers on the project include: 

Troy Lum (The Water Diviner, Saving Mr Banks, Mao’s Last Dancer), Andrew Mason (The Matrix, The Water Diviner), Sophie Gardiner (Chimerica), Kerry Roberts (Boy Erased) and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby). 


When will Boy Swallows Universe be released?

The adaptation of Boy Swallows Universe comes out on Netflix on January 11, 2024. The premiere was held on January 9th, with the cast, crew and Dalton himself in attendance.

Writer Trent Dalton poses with Felix Cameron, who plays Eli Bell. Image: Getty
The cast of ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ gather at the premiere. Image: Getty
Simon Baker at the premiere. Image: Getty
Phoebe Tonkin at the premiere. Image: Getty

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