This week, two of the year’s biggest films hit theaters on the same day. One is The French Dispatch, arthouse director Wes Anderson’s love letter to journalism, which follows a group of American journalists working for a literary magazine to a fictional French town. The other is Dune, Den is Villeneuve’s ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert’s groundbreaking science fiction novel. At the center of both films is Timothée Chalamet, the 25-year-old actor who has become, in just four years, Hollywood’s main man.
Unusually, it was not a blockbuster that catapulted Chalamet to fame, but two independent films. The first was Call me by your name, the story of a precocious teenager, Elio, played by Chalamet, who falls in love with an older student, Oliver (Armie Hammer), staying at his parents’ dream villa in the Italian countryside.
Adapted from André Aciman’s novel by dizzying-style filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, it was lush and lyrical, erotic and tragic, and presented a heartbreaking and defining turning point for the career of the then 21-year-old Chalamet. This performance would make him the youngest person nominated for an Oscar for best actor in 80 years.
His loss to Gary Oldman, who won for his role in the Winston Churchill biopic Darkest hour, is likely to sound down the ages as one of the Academy’s greatest players.
That same year saw the release of another coming-of-age movie, Lady Bird, anchored by Saoirse Ronan as a 17-year-old holder sailing his last year of high school; her tumultuous relationship with her mother and a series of less than satisfactory boyfriends.
Chalamet played one of these: Kyle, a pretentious, chain-smoking, guitar-playing bad boy who is portrayed with more nuance than the familiar high school stereotype thanks to Greta Gerwig’s well-rounded script and the perfectly placed performance by Chalamet.
Released just weeks apart, the films made 2017 a pivotal year for Chalamet, who became a global sensation almost overnight. With her expertly tousled curls and fine, delicate features, here’s a smoother, more sensitive heartbeat than the Marvel heroes who dominated the screen for much of the previous decade. Chalamet fever set in, and the actor suddenly found himself bathed in a hot spotlight.
Chalamet – Timmy for his legion of adoring fans – comes from a creative family and a long line of artists, including his mother Nicole Flender, a Broadway dancer turned real estate agent; his late grandfather, the writer Harold Flender; and his uncle, television director Rodman Flender.
His father is French Marc Chalamet, journalist and editor-in-chief at Unicef, and although Timothée was born in Manhattan, he is also fluent in French, having spent his summers with his grandparents in the village of Chambon-sur -Lignon.
Chalamet followed her mother, uncle and sister Pauline, also an actress, to the famous LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York. He had previously grabbed small parts on television, including an episode of Law & Order, but while studying at LaGuardia, he landed his first recurring roles on Country and royal pains. In 2014, he got his first major role in a feature film, playing the younger version of the character of Casey Affleck in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic. Interstellar.
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Chalamet has been hailed as the Leonardo DiCaprio of this generation, but unlike DiCaprio, he grew up in the internet age, where many difficult moments of his youth were captured on film and shared on social media – d ‘ a 12 year old dancer Chalamet to Soulja Boy, to pictures of him dating Lourdes Leon, Madonna’s daughter, in high school, to a 17 year old “Lil Timmy Tim” wearing a pink wig rapping for Romain’s revenge by Nicki Minaj.
Still, Chalamet apparently remained grounded, maintaining a healthy sense of humor and coping remarkably well with his sudden fame. And while he keeps his privacy (mostly) private, he doesn’t shy away from the limelight either. Before the pandemic, he was front row at Paris Fashion Week and he also took the stage to recite lyrics for his friend, rapper Kid Cudi, at a concert in California. But where he shone the most is on the red carpet, where Chalamet, with the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman ushered in a new golden age for menswear.
Avoid the standard uniform of a black tuxedo, Chalamet is rarely seen in conventional attire: his Louis Vuitton embroidered bib at the Golden Globes in 2019 earned him a place in the Red Carpet Hall of Fame, while other premieres have seen him wearing glitter hoodies, beaded shirts and tie-dye overalls with a touch of lip gloss.
When he wears a suit, it’s anything but basic, rendered in bright fuchsia, a dramatic pink print, or silvery silk with a cinched waist. French designer Haider Ackermann has proven to be one of his most frequent collaborators and, like Ackermann’s other muse, Tilda Swinton, Chalamet is not afraid to take risks. At last month’s Met Gala, he paired a crisp white double-breasted suit jacket from Ackermann with sweatpants adorned with crystal brooches and Converse sneakers in matching white. The look was divisive, but it was uniquely Chalamet: elegant, unexpected and non-traditional.
Although rarely missing on the red carpet, Chalamet hasn’t had the best luck with his choice of projects since his record breaking year in 2017. It was always going to be hard to match the wonderful novelty of her groundbreaking roles, but her decision to star in a Woody Allen film marked her first and only notable controversy. In 2018, it was scheduled to be in A rainy day in New York alongside Elle Fanning and Jude Law, only for distributor Amazon Studios to postpone the release indefinitely following renewed attention to allegations of Allen sexually abusing his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow as a child . Allen denies the allegations.
In a statement posted on Instagram, Chalamet became the most prominent man to publicly disown Allen, saying, “I’m learning that a good role isn’t the only criteria for taking a job.”
“I don’t want to profit from my work on the film,” he continued, announcing that he would donate his salary from the film to three charities: Time’s Up, the LGBT Center in New York and RAINN, an anti- sexual -organization of violence. The film was finally released in Europe in 2019 and the United States the following year, with little fanfare or promotion to accompany it.
Chalamet’s next big project was Handsome boy, a slow one, dark drama based on the memoir of journalist David Sheff (played by Steve Carrell in the film) and his son Nic Sheff (played by Chalamet). It follows David’s struggles to support his son as he struggled with a methamphetamine addiction.
After that there was The king, billed as “Shakespeare for Millennials” and adapted from Bard story pieces. It was Chalamet’s first round of fronting, and in a big budget epic to boot, but the response was equally sweet, with most viewers more interested in the actual relationship between Chalamet and his co-star, Lily. -Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis.
The two were photographed by paparazzi kissing on a boat in Capri, in what has been their most important relationship to date. He spoke candidly about the photos with GQ: “I went to bed that night thinking it was one of the happiest days of my life. I was on this boat all day with someone I really loved, and closing my eyes, I was like, without a doubt, “That was awesome”. And then wake up to all these images, feeling embarrassed and looking like a real nob? All pale? And then people say, “This is a publicity stunt. A publicity stunt?! Do you think I wanna look like this in front of everyone you?! “
While the couple are apparently no longer together, this was a typically unvarnished and self-deprecating reaction from Chalamet, who has cultivated friendships with many great cinema ladies. Following some career stumbles, he found himself at the top with another Greta Gerwig film, Little woman, in which he plays Laurie opposite the Jo of Saoirse Ronan.
It was a reunion for the young co-stars, who formed a close bond on Lady Bird, firmly establishing them as one of Hollywood’s most iconic couples – if he’s the DiCaprio, Ronan is his Winslet.
Chalamet’s friendships with his female colleagues spanned generations – from Gerwig to Frances McDormand, with whom he acts alongside the next. The French expedition, to Zendaya, his Dune co-star and Gen-Z icon. This is a far cry from DiCaprio’s so-called “pussy posse” of the late 1990s, and a testament to Chalamet’s popularity within the industry as well as outside.
The next step for the young actor is Do not seek, a star-studded Netflix film that also has DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep among its cast, and another feature film by Guadagnino, Bones and all, a love-horror story with Taylor Russell. And after that it will be Chalamet’s biggest career bet yet: a flashy musical exploring the youth of Roald Dahl’s inventor and chocolatier, Willy Wonka. Can he get out of it? For now, at least, he has the golden ticket.