At the end of 2017, few doubted that the 21-year-old actor was the face of a new generation of actors. His leading role in “Call me by your name”, his appearances in “Lady Bird” and “Hostiles” proved that this unexpected year cemented the career of the young New Yorker with a French name.
What more could an actor ask for to get started? Apparently a lot more. Four years later that year, Timothée Chalamet returns to compete in a kind of Hollywood bingo. The epic “Dune” and Wes Anderson’s new work “The French Dispatch” are two of the most anticipated productions of the year. Chalamet is a star in both.
The turning point was his entry into LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where he graduated with another well-known actor, Ansel Elgort. An enrollment that should never have happened after the rejection in conversation with the person in charge of the school.
It was the drama teacher he auditioned with for a performance that saved him. “His sister was my student and told me he was rejected. I thought, ‘How can this happen?’ “
“I remember his audition because I gave him the highest grade I’ve ever given a child in exams,” Harry Shifman remembers to Vanity Fair. “He was really good. I think he was 13 years old. It was fascinating (…) We immediately noticed that this child has a gift. “
Shifman confronted the headmistress and convinced her that Chalamet should be admitted to the class. “Thank god he listened to me because now he would probably be studying medicine.”
In fact, Chalamet used his school days to devote himself to another passion: rap. He created an artistic figure, called her Lil ‘Timmy Tim, and performed a series of videos that would come back years later to embarrass him.
One of Lil ‘Timmy Tim’s first subjects was inspired by the statistics teacher and a failed test. While his classmates studied diligently, Chalamet considered making a song on the subject. “I took the video with the help of a friend against a green background at school,” he recalls on Graham Norton’s Show.
Between rhyming about stats and wearing a plain gray t-shirt and red cap, he thought he could make a creative music video. “The idea was to stick the teacher’s face in the video, but we got lazy … and now I look ridiculous pointing at blank spaces in the air.” The result was a negative grade.
His short and hectic career as a rapper didn’t end there. Every year he appeared at the school show with a new topic – and a performance with a lot of dance. Eventually Chalamet realized that his greatest talent wasn’t there.
In addition to brief appearances in short films, the first major role appeared, curiously, in “Segurança Nacional”, in which he appeared in eight episodes. It was in the role of Finn Walden, son of the Vice President of the United States, who showed the first gifts that resulted in an unexpected phone call.
Just two years later, Christopher Nolan, one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, cast Chalamet for a role in his “Interstellar” as Zac, son of the protagonist Matthew McConaughey. Although he only had a few minutes on screen – his adult character is played by Casey Affleck – it was enough to get noticed. Still, Chalamet felt he didn’t deserve all the attention.
Chalamet promoted the film alongside protagonists such as Jessica Chastain, John Lithgow and Anne Hathaway. On the day it opened, I was thrilled. “Basically, I didn’t have a career at the time. I felt like a cheat [no meio daqueles atores]“, He confessed in an interview. When he saw the film, he found that his character had a lot fewer minutes on screen than he expected. “As soon as I got home to my dad, I cried for an hour because I thought my role was bigger,” he confessed.
At the center of all the frustration was what he thought was the best scene: an emotional performance in which he recorded a video that was broadcast to his father, Cooper. Nolan ended up cutting her out of the film precisely because he was focusing on McConaughey’s dramatic response to one of the film’s most iconic scenes. All at the expense of Chalamet, who he claims has no grudge.
Chalamet in the discreet role in “National Security”
Two years later, the 20-year-old actor traveled to Italy for a unique project. He reached his goal six weeks ahead of the rest of the cast with the aim of slipping into the role of Elio, an intelligent young man, polyglot, and accomplished pianist.
Chalamet had two tasks: to learn to play the piano; and adding Italian to its many fluent languages, English and French. Chalamet, in fact, has dual American and French citizenship. As the son of a Frenchman, he spent his summers in France.
His obsessive engagement with the film earned him the first major success of his career – and that led to him becoming the youngest actor to be nominated for an Oscar for best actor in the past 80 years. In addition, that same year he played the lead role with Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird”, nominated for five statuettes.
The journey into an unforgettable 2021 was filled with less recognized but no less important roles. She starred with Steve Carrell in “Beautiful Boy”, controversially in “A Rainy Day in New York” by Woody Allen, starred in “The King” and returned to Greta Gerwig in her version of “Little Women”.
After Nolan and Luca Guadagnino saw in him a unique talent, Denis Villeneuve believed that Chalamet could be the protagonist of his life project: to broadcast Frank Herbert’s epic “Dune” to the cinema.
“I chose this for a number of reasons. First of all, he’s a phenomenal actor, he’s got immense depth, he’s someone very mature for his age. Paul Atreides is an old soul in a young body and Timothée has that, ”explains the director. “He has things that remind me of old school Hollywood stars. You put Timothée in front of the camera and it’s great fun. “
The worship is endless and includes some of the greatest filmmakers today. Wes Anderson, who selected him as part of his restricted group of repeat cast members, is another director who fell in love with the actor.
In the role in Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch”
“I had seen him on ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Call Me By Your Name’ and it never crossed my mind to offer the role to anyone other than Chalamet,” he says. “I knew he was the right one. He also speaks French and looks like he has just come out of an Eric Rohmer film, around 1985. Comes from Paris on a slow train, with his backpack, to spend 10 days on a beach in bad weather. It doesn’t suit a particular type [de ator] – but New Wave would have saved him a happy place. “
It’s not just a talented actor. The last few years on the Hollywood red carpets have revealed another talent: fashion. When Greta Gerwig revealed that it was the actor who selected all the outfits for her scenes in “Lady Bird”, her confirmation as host of the Met Gala – alongside Tom Ford and young talents like Amanda Gorman, Billie Eilish and Naomi Osaka – and The bold style cemented her fame as a fashionista.
After an incredible 2017 and an even more exciting 2021, can Chalamet master the feat of taking multiple hits at once? This year he has another great success: The 25-year-old actor is cast in Adam McKay’s new film, in a super cast with DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and Mark Rylance. The future is even more promising: it will be the brand new Willy Wonka, in a production that is currently being recorded; and confirmation has just surfaced from Hollywood that the second part of “Dune” will actually be completed.
He still has a valuable piece of paper in his pocket. Chalamet will play a young Bob Dylan in Going Electric, a role he has discussed with Joel Coen, the filmmaker and alleged fan of the musician. They crossed over on the set of The French Dispatch – the director and screenwriter is husband of film co-star Frances McDormand – and had dinner together to discuss Chalamet’s new role. “He seemed afraid to speak about the subject [do Dylan] for being so big and powerful, ”Chalamet told GQ.
Coen explained why he found Dylan so fascinating. It was not just his quality as a musician, but also the skill with which he brought one subject after another, success after success, one masterpiece to the next. And that’s exactly what Chalamet wants: more masterpieces, one after the other. If you do, you may be able to repeat or surpass the fabulous crazy year of 2021, or as it is called, the year of Timothée Chalamet.