When Peter Hedges was developing the film he had no intention of casting his son Lucas Hedges in the titular role, and had already created a shortlist of other actors he was considering. It was Julia Roberts, who after seeing the younger Hedges in Manchester by the Sea (2016), insisted he be cast.
Lucas Hedges and Kathryn Newton co-starred the year before in Lady Bird (2017) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), marking this movie their third collaboration.
Prior to commencing this shoot, Lucas Hedges and Kathryn Newton spent the Thanksgiving holiday as guests at Julia Roberts' home where Julia entertained 22 guests around the dinner table.
The choice of Christmas Eve was a metaphorical setting of great strength for BEN IS BACK, but due to the winter atmosphere, the team had to face harsh weather conditions. --Teddy Schwarzman remembers having to deal with a cyclonic snowstorm that paralyzed all roads in New York and Yonkers, where the team planned to shoot a scene.-- Julia Roberts, who has lived in New York for eighteen years, says she has never experienced a winter on the East Coast equivalent to the one that hit the set for BEN IS BACK.
Most daytime footage was filmed before the team broke up for the holidays. In January 2018, the production turned the night scenes, while the story darkens, literally as well as figuratively. Director Peter Hedges remarks that his actors showed great sensitivity in the way they played the growing tension between mother and son.
Lucas Hedges is one of two actors in 2018 playing drug addicted children. The other is Timothée Chalamet in Beautiful Boy (2018). Hedges and Chalamet appeared together in Lady Bird (2017) the previous year.
The filmmaker called on stage designer Ford Wheeler to develop sets ranging from the Burns family's suburban lodge to a dealer den located in a warehouse.-- Ford Wheeler, known for his work on the series THE AFFAIR and the movie RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, takes pleasure in accentuating the contrast between Ben's healthy family background and the much less protected environment where most of the film takes place in the third part of the film.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2018.
Filming took place in Yonkers, New City, Sloatsburg,Larchmont,Garnerville, and Haverstraw, New York.
The choice of shooting locations was crucial to compose the suburb that serves as a backdrop for BEN IS BACK. Among the scenic spots spotted by outdoor setter Rob Streim in Westchester and Rockland counties in upstate New York are small towns such as Haverstraw, Larchmont, Sloatsburg, Garnerville and Mamaroneck, where production has unearthed Burns house.
Despite the cold polar, Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts have maintained a warm relationship on the set.-- Julia Roberts looks forward to the professional and personal relationships she has developed with her partner.