‘Boy Swallows Universe’ – Everything We Know About the Netflix Series


When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But when life hands you a crime-prone dysfunctional family, sometimes you’ll have to make do. Based on the best-selling Australian novel by Trent Dalton, Netflix’s upcoming series Boy Swallows Universe takes audiences Down Under in the 1980s to the life of Eli Bell (Felix Cameron), a young boy living in the suburbs with a family that’s far from picture perfect – a lost father, a mute brother, and a recovering addict mum, a heroin dealer for a stepmother, and a notorious criminal for a babysitter.

Amidst the whirlwinds surrounding him, Eli strives to heed the call of his heart and come to terms with the essence of becoming a man. However, destiny seems determined to test him with a series of challenges. Boys Swallows Universe unfolds as a coming-of-age story that skillfully traverses the complexities of both the joys and sorrows of life. With its nuanced portrayal, the series promises a tale that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, exploring the complexities of life.

Here’s everything we know so far about Boy Swallows Universe.

Boy Swallows Universe

Release Date
January 11, 2024

John Collee

Travis Fimmel , Simon Baker , Phoebe Tonkin , Felix Cameron , Zac Burgess , Lee Tiger Halley , Bryan Brown , Anthony LaPaglia , Sophie Wilde , Christopher James Baker , Deborah Mailman

Main Genre

Crime , Mystery



John Collee , Trent Dalton

Number of Episodes

Streaming Service(s)

John Collee

Does ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ Have a Release Date?

The cast of Boy Swallows Universe
Image via Netflix

Boy Swallows Universe is set to premiere exclusively on Netflix starting January 11, 2024. Audiences excited about the 8-part limited series can easily get a Netflix subscription for as low as $6.99 / month (Standard with ads plan). Additional membership plans include Standard (going for $15.49 / month) and Premium (available at $22.99 / month).

As one of the world’s leading streaming entertainment services, Netflix is home to a variety of beloved TV series, feature films, documentaries, and even mobile games spanning a wide variety of genres, languages, and nations. Recently, the streaming platform premiered the critically acclaimed biopic Maestro, starring Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan. The film is currently nominated for four Golden Globe Awards.

Is There a Trailer for ‘Boy Swallows Universe’?

The trailer for Boy Swallows Universe was released on November 27, 2023, offering a glimpse into a gritty and tumultuous world beneath Australia’s sunny exterior. Set in the suburbs of 1980s Brisbane, the clip immerses viewers in the unconventional journey of a young boy by the name of Eli Bell, revealing a childhood far from the ordinary. Surrounded by a family that’s dipped their toes in the local criminal underbelly, Eli is no stranger to the harsh realities he’s forced to encounter every day. With a missing father, a mute brother, a mother grappling with addiction, a stepfather involved in heroin dealing, and a notorious criminal as a babysitter, Eli’s life couldn’t get any more complicated.

Despite the trials swirling around him, Eli is just a kid with a simple desire – to escape his homely chaos and pursue his dream of becoming a successful journalist. However, as tragedy strikes and looms over him and his family, his life takes a serious turn. Boy Swallows Universe unfolds as a coming-of-age tale that delicately navigates between the optimism and innocence of childhood and the harsh realities of poverty and violence. The show promises to capture what it means to defy the odds, setting the stage for a journey fueled by love, destiny, and unwavering resilience.

Who Stars in ‘Boy Swallows Universe’?

Boy Swallows Universe features an ensemble cast of talented actors. The young Eli and Gus Bell are brought to life by Felix Cameron, known for his role in Penguin Bloom, as Eli Bell, and Lee Tiger Halley, with credits in The Heights and Crazy Fun Park, as Gus Bell.

Travis Fimmel, known for his roles in Vikings and Black Snow, takes on the character Lyle Orlik. Simon Baker, acclaimed for The Mentalist and High Ground, portrays Robert Bell, while Phoebe Tonkin, recognized for her work in Babylon and Westworld, embodies the role of Frances Bell.

Central figures in Eli and Gus’s lives are portrayed by Bryan Brown (Anyone But You) as Slim Halliday, Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) as Tytus Broz, and Sophie Wilde (Talk to Me) in the role of Caitlyn Spies. Additional members of the cast include Christopher James Baker (Ozark) as Ivan Kroll, HaiHa Le (Back to the Rafters) as Bich Dang, Deborah Mailman (The Sapphires) as Poppy Birkbeck, Ben O’Toole (Hacksaw Ridge) as Teddy, Zachary Wan (The Unlisted) as Darren Dang, and the roles of 17-year-old Shelley Huffman and 13-year-old Shelley Huffman played by Millie Donaldson and Eloise Rothfield, respectively.

What Is ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ About?

Image via Netflix

Below is the official synopsis for Boy Swallows Universe from Netflix:

An epic coming-of-age story set in 1980s Brisbane that blends the magic and innocence of youth with the brutal reality of the adult world. A lost father, a mute brother, a recovering addict mum, a heroin dealer for a stepfather, and a notorious criminal for a babysitter. Eli Bell is just trying to follow his heart and understand what it means to become a good man, but fate keeps throwing obstacles in his way.

Adapted from Trent Dalton’s iconic Australian novel, Boy Swallows Universe explores the crossroads where a boy becomes a man, good toys with evil, and the everyday meets the extraordinary.

Who Is Making ‘Boy Swallows Universe’?

The cast and crew in Boy Swallows Universe
Image via Netflix

Boy Swallows Universe is derived from the best-selling novel of the same name penned by acclaimed Australian author Dalton. Serving as his debut novel, not only did Boy Swallows Universe claim the top spot on the bestseller list, but also made history as the fastest-selling Australian debut novel to date. Besides his literary achievements, Dalton serves as a staff writer for the Weekend Australian Magazine and has been honored twice with the prestigious Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The screen adaptation of the series is crafted by the accomplished writer John Collee, known for his contributions to Happy Feet and Hotel Mumbai. Helming the project are directors Bharat Nalluri (The Man Who Invented Christmas), Jocelyn Moorhouse (The Dressmaker), and Kim Mordaunt (Wakefield). The team boasts a lineup of credible executive producers, including Troy Lum and Andrew Mason representing Brouhaha, Sophie Gardiner for Chapter One, Kerry Kohansky-Roberts from Anonymous Content, along with Joel Edgerton, Toby Bentley, and Bharat Nalluri.

In a press release, Que Minh Luu, Netflix Director of Content, ANZ, shared just how important it is to bring local stories like Boy Swallows Universe to the streaming platform:

“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.”


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