Steve Carell's niece died from an overdose just before his new drug drama, Beautiful Boy, was released.

The Foxcatcher star admits his life had never been touched by drugs or the devastation drug abuse causes until he signed on to play the real-life father of an addict, portrayed by Timothee Chalamet.

The film shoot was bookended by two major family drug-related events - one vital and the other fatal.

"It was an odd confluence of events," Steve told Annette Insdorf during a recent 92nd Street Y Talks event in New York City. "I remember the week before I started shooting, my 14-year-old son, who was 12 at the time, asked me something out of the blue after I picked him up from school.

"We were driving home and we had never had one of these conversations before - he said, 'Is marijuana a gateway drug?' Obviously it was something they were talking about in school.

"I froze for a second, because here is a big conversation and I have to get this right. It was interesting that just before I was going into this movie that really dealt with a very difficult subject matter."

And then Steve was hit with the news about his niece: "We were doing a screening of the film in Boston and the next day my niece passed away from an overdose," he explains. "Up until that point I didn't have as close a connection."

Beautiful Boy was released in the U.S. in October (18) and has become one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year.