CALL HIM BY HIS NAME
This young, prominent actor has been compared to the likes of James Dean, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Daniel Day-Lewis. At only 24-years-old, he has managed to climb to the top of cinema’s ladder, and has since been nominated for an Oscar and two Golden Globes.
It’s 2014. Interstellar, the movie featuring Matthew McConaughey as an astronaut fighting to prevent the end of humanity, has just premiered in theaters. It’s budding actor Timothée Chalamet’s first big film and he’s ecstatic about it. He landed the role of character Tom, but his 15-year-old version. The adult character of Tom is played by Casey Affleck. Although his role is small, he has hope that this is the break he’s been waiting for.
Although Interstellar received phenomenal reviews and even won an Oscar, it unfortunately wasn’t the debut Chalamet had enthusiastically hoped for. He attended numerous auditions after the film but to no avail; he was turned down by movies like White Boy Rick (2018) and The Theory of Everything (2014). He was so disappointed by this that he could hardly bear to watch movies at the theater. “I wasn’t one of these graceful people who could just go see movies with contemporaries, or movies in general, and love it—I want to be in them,” he said.
This admirable determination actually helped Chalamet to bounce back after Interstellar. The stubbornness stems from his childhood, as he has been a long-time lover of acting. He simply cannot see himself doing anything else.
Timothée was born on December 27, 1995 in New York City to Nicole Flender, a real estate broker, and Marc Chalamet, a UNICEF editor. His mother was also a dancer and this is likely where his artistry descends from. His family encouraged pursuing the arts, helping him to land commercials and plays at an early age. He even starred in short films, getting his start in 2008’s Sweet Tooth and Clown.
Despite his acting pursuits in America though, Chalamet grew up sort of living two identities. His background is French and he holds dual citizenship in both the U.S. and France. He also can speak fluent French thanks to the many summers he spent in the country with his paternal grandparents. He has often said that when he is in France, he is the French version of himself.
Chalamet went on to attend the esteemed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. The school claims alumni such as Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Aniston, Al Pacino, Wesley Snipes, and more. While he was attending the school, he was able to sharpen his acting skills and receive opportunities he wouldn’t have been able to before.
But he also made some friendships—and relationships— with current and future stars, thanks to the school’s A-list status. Fellow rising actor Ansel Elgort (who graced our cover in August of 2019) was his classmate and they constantly ran into each other on campus. They played on the same high school basketball team, and had the same science and drama teacher. “No one disliked Timmy,” Elgort said about his former classmate during an interview with MTV. “Some people disliked me. Everyone loves Timmy.” Chalamet also briefly dated a student at the school, Lourdes Leon, who just so happens to be Madonna’s daughter.
He starred in school productions Cabaret and Sweet Charity, and also landed a part on the TV show Homeland in 2012. He graduated in 2013. After graduation, he thought about pursuing acting full-time but his mother pressured him to attend college instead. He enrolled in Columbia University, pursuing a degree in cultural anthropology. It was around this time that he had landed the role of Tom in Interstellar. When it premiered, he couldn’t understand why he would waste time going to college when all he could dream about was being on the big screen. Against his mother’s wishes, he dropped out of college after one year to focus on his passion.
At first it was difficult—as stated before, he struggled to land auditions. But he was able to star in some more low-key, indie films, such as the younger version of writer Stephen Elliott in The Adderall Diaries (2015), the male lead, Zac, in the drama One and Two (2015), and Billy in the road trip drama Miss Stevens (2016).
His actual catapult into the mainstream came a year later in 2017 when his role as Elio became a success in the romance film Call Me by Your Name. He starred alongside Armie Hammer as the two played young men who fall in love during one summer in 1980s Italy. The film was an instant hit; it won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for two others. Chalamet himself received his first ever Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role, making him the youngest actor to be nominated for the award in 80 years. He was 22-years-old at the time of his nomination! The previous honor had been given to Mickey Rooney, who was 19-years-old when he was nominated for the category in 1944.
“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME WITH [DIRECTOR] LUCA WAS SUCH AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE, AND IT WAS TOUGH. NO STONE WAS LEFT UNTURNED. EVERY RANDOM PROP WAS THOUGHT-OUT…” CHALAMET SAID ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE WORKING ON THE FILM.
This certainly opened the floodgates toward exceptional roles as he also starred in 2017’s Lady Bird, which was nominated for five Oscars. Soon after, in 2018 he landed another pivotal role in Beautiful Boy alongside Steve Carell, where he played Nic Sheff, a young boy who is experiencing a relapse in drug addiction. Carell plays his father. It’s a touching film based on a true story that went on to receive rave reviews. Chalamet picked up Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.
“IT’S REALLY AN ANTI-GLORIFICATION OF DRUG USE,” CHALAMET EXPLAINS ABOUT THE FILM. “THIS IS, HOPEFULLY, WHAT THE REALITY OF IT IS. THE SUBJECT MATTER IS ALREADY TOUGH, AND WE WANT THE REDEMPTION OF IT TO BE IN PLAIN SIGHT, BUT THE HONESTY IS IN HOW F*CKING TERRIFYING IT IS TO BE USING, AND ALSO HOW TERRIFYING IT FEELS TO BE SOBER.”
He also starred in Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day in New York adjacent Selena Gomez in 2019. It’s a rom-com about a young couple that arrives in New York for a weekend. It had a limited release in theaters after it was dropped by Amazon Studios. Amazon intended to release it on its streaming service, but after the anti-sexual assault #MeToo Movement raised awareness about Woody Allen, they dropped the project. Allen has been accused of sexual abuse by his adoptive daughter. When Chalamet caught wind of this, he immediately vouched to donate his salary from the film to the #MeToo Movement, as well as to other similar charities and movements.
However, 2019 wasn’t all lost on Chalamet. He also had his film The King premiere in theaters on November 1. It’s a dramatic biopic about his character, Hal, who is a wayward prince and heir to the English throne. After he is crowned King Henry V when his tyrannical father dies, he must navigate palace politics, the war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life. The film did well with critics, spawning terrific reviews.
His most recent project was Little Women, which came out in theaters on December 25 of 2019. The movie is directed by Greta Gerwig and features Saoirse Ronan, the same two stars Chalamet worked with on Lady Bird. It’s a coming-of-age period drama film inspired by the 1868 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. It chronicles the lives of the March sisters—Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth—in Concord, Massachusetts, during the 19th century. This film too was a winner; it garnered an Oscar for costume design and two Golden Globe nods.
This month Chalamet will make his return to the silver screen with The French Dispatch, a Wes Anderson film about an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth century French city. It again features his frequent costar, Saoirse Ronan, as well as other esteemed actors Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Elisabeth Moss, and more. “I had seen Timmy in Lady Bird and Call Me by Your Name and I never had the inconvenience of ever thinking of anybody else for this role even for a second,” director Anderson said. It will debut in theaters on January 28.
A second 2021 movie of his will premiere on October 1. The much-anticipated Dune is a sci-fi thriller that also stars Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Rebecca Ferguson. Its plot revolves around the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy. It was supposed to premiere in 2020 but was delayed numerous times due to COVID-19. If all goes as planned, it will light up theaters and produce another rewarding film for the brilliant Timothée Chalamet.
By Selene Rivera