In September, the Met Gala in New York – Anna Wintour’s annual fusion of fundraising gala and superstar parade – redesigned itself for generation Z. Instagram sponsored the occasion, Justin Bieber was its headline performer, and 4 younger whippersnappers have been enlisted as co-chairs: singer Billie Eilish, tennis participant Naomi Osaka, poet Amanda Gorman and – the elder statesman of the quartet at 25 – Timothée Chalamet.
Chalamet turned up, sometimes tousle-haired and puppy-eyed, in an outfit of two halves. Up prime, a cropped, snugly tailor-made satin tuxedo jacket by avant-garde designer Haider Ackermann, full with cummerbund and blingy brooches. Beneath, a pair of saggy cream jogging bottoms, tucked into white socks and Converse trainers. Half princely movie star, half child at play: it’s a glance that encapsulates the persona of the most important, most hysterically obsessed-over teen idol to emerge from the flicks because the heyday of Twilight.
It’s 13 years since that emo vampire saga launched Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson into the stratosphere, affording them the platform to construct more and more offbeat careers in unbiased and arthouse cinema. Chalamet, nevertheless, has carried out the reverse. Few actors have been propelled to mass-market stardom by a movie as unlikely as Call Me By Your Name – Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s woozy, humid homosexual love story between Chalamet’s precocious teen Elio and Armie Hammer’s suave graduate scholar Oliver.
Launched in 2017, the movie grossed a modest £30m worldwide, but Chalamet’s portrayal of gangly, confused past love – sealed by a scene by which Elio masturbates right into a ripe summer season peach – turned the stuff of immediate, obsessive and really on-line fandom. Earlier than the yr was out, a secondary function as a high-school dreamboat in Greta Gerwig’s Woman Hen cemented his next-big-thing standing. Alongside got here an Oscar nomination for Name Me By Your Identify, making the then 22-year-old Chalamet the youngest greatest actor nominee since Mickey Rooney in 1940.
Chalamet wasn’t unprepared for the enterprise. The son of an American mom who has carried out on Broadway and a French father who works at Unicef, he grew up comfortably in New York Metropolis, summering at his grandparents’ dwelling in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon within the Auvergne, and attended the well-known LaGuardia faculty of performing arts. He briefly enrolled at Columbia College however dropped out for big-name appearing alternatives. In 2014, he made his movie debut in Jason Reitman’s best-forgotten Males, Ladies & Kids, earlier than making a stronger impression in Interstellar, directed by his professed favorite film-maker, Christopher Nolan.
Most younger stars, after the standing improve of Name Me By Your Identify, could be drafted immediately into large studio fodder. But Chalamet has bided his time, taking a picky, even curated, method to his profession. He’ll fortunately take a supporting function (he was an endearing, flustered Laurie in Gerwig’s Little Ladies) if the encircling movie displays properly on him. Even his singular red-carpet model – a lot of editorial, gender-blurring style, nary a normal go well with to be seen – performs into that elective air.
“We took to calling him ‘Prince Timmée’ in our posts as a result of there’s a type of aristocracy, cosplay factor to his model, very Le Petit Prince,” says Lorenzo Marquez, co-editor of style commentary web site Tom + Lorenzo. “He and his crew know easy methods to play with the perceptions of him: when you have got a reputation like Timothée Chalamet, American audiences particularly are more likely to see you as one way or the other extra refined and privileged than the same old film star.”
Solely now could be he taking part in his first blockbuster lead, in no less vast a project than Dune. Denis Villeneuve’s lavish adaptation of the Frank Herbert sci-fi doorstop is centred on Chalamet’s nascent interplanetary warrior Paul Atreides; a sequel has simply been greenlit, confirming him because the main man of a bona fide Hollywood franchise. He’s at present filming Wonka, a musical prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Manufacturing unit, by which he stars because the younger, eponymous confectioner. If he hit the massive time 4 years in the past, this seems to be the larger time nonetheless.
“It’s cool to consider that trajectory,” says film-maker Julia Hart of his journey from indie icon to multiplex model. She directed him in 2016’s Miss Stevens, the final movie he made earlier than Name Me By Your Identify: a mild, affectionate character drama, it options him, aptly sufficient, as a gifted, nervous drama scholar, climaxing with a killer monologue from Demise of a Salesman. “He’s somebody who is aware of what the small motion pictures really feel like, how onerous they are often to make, and that it’s important to actually love the fabric to even trouble,” Hart says. “There’s numerous hours put in. Numerous gratitude.”
Certain sufficient, Chalamet’s flip towardd blockbusters hasn’t but come on the expense of his style for various fare: opening on the identical day as Dune final week was Wes Anderson’s hyper-precious ensemble piece The French Dispatch, one strand of which is led by Chalamet as a boy revolutionary within the Might ’68 riots. (“He speaks French and appears like he would possibly even have walked proper out of an Éric Rohmer film,” Anderson has mentioned of casting him.) In December, he’ll be again in Oscar-bait territory with Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio in Adam McKay’s satire Don’t Look Up; he just lately reunited with Guadagnino to shoot the cannibalism-themed drama Bones & All. (A once-mooted sequel to Name Me By Your Identify, nevertheless, is now on ice.)
That phrase Hart used – “gratitude” – comes up rather a lot in Chalamet’s interviews, the place he performs up his youth and inexperience, and his wide-eyed surprise at being part of all of it. “I’m figuring it out,” he just lately instructed Time. “On my worst days, I really feel a stress in figuring it out. However on my greatest days, I really feel like I’m rising proper on time.” At different instances, he dabbles in earnest luvvie-speak – simpler to get away with whenever you’re younger. “I actually really feel myself coming into my very own as a neighborhood of thespians, versus actors,” he mentioned in a GQ profile final yr, including that he thrives on uncertainty in appearing: “I wish to get again to the undefined area once more. I’m chasing a sense.”
In response to Hart, that guilelessness masks extra decisive instincts: “Typically with these younger actors you are concerned. They’re so younger and so lovely and so proficient, and our business can devour that. However I watched him take management. Ask for what he wanted. And I felt he’d be OK.”
Chalamet’s public picture is equally managed, although not aloof: he has steadily stored followers comfortable whereas deftly avoiding controversy. Give or take some snaps with obvious on-off girlfriend Lily-Rose Depp, he’s no tabloid fixture, whereas his interviews and social media accounts combine commonplace self-promotion with checks of his personal privilege, plus reflections on psychological well being and social justice. He took half, incognito, in final yr’s George Floyd protests (“Individuals would possibly discover it disingenuous, however I discovered it actually grounding,” he instructed GQ), and even publicly expressed regret for taking a job in Woody Allen’s A Wet Day in New York, donating his charge to Time’s Up, amongst different charities.
That performs into Chalamet’s picture – buoyed up by his ethereal, androgynous magnificence – as a brand new sort of Hollywood main man, rejecting macho stereotypes in favour of a kinder, extra healthful delicacy. “He’s very savvy about avoiding the one factor that journeys up so many younger male stars once they hit it large: he’s not making an attempt to develop up or develop out too quick,” says Tom Fitzgerald of Tom + Lorenzo.
“Whereas selling the mainstream movie of his profession, he’s nonetheless sporting the identical type of lovely, gender-nonconforming, romanticised style that fits him greatest. So many male stars in his place would have ditched the queer-coded picture for action-movie put on as quickly as doable. He and his crew realise it’s greatest to stay with what made you well-known within the first place.”
At a young-looking 25 years of age, Chalamet nonetheless has rising to do: past Paul Atreides and Willy Wonka, it’s onerous to anticipate what decisions he’ll make as soon as his pure boyishness fades. Nonetheless, it’s onerous to see him ever taking a flip in direction of old-school masculinity, notably because the poster boy for a era outlined by open vulnerability. Hart definitely hopes not. “Once I watch an actor play a person, I don’t need robust,” she says. “I hate robust. I would like honesty, I would like transparency, I would like tears. Timmy does all of that. And it’s great.”