At only twenty-six, Timothée Chalamet (Timmy to fans) is already an Oscar-nominated actor, a fashion icon and a social-media sensation.
Timothée Chalamet’s unparalleled, and somewhat quiet, rise to stardom is due to his undeniable talent, passion, and ability to inject himself into each performance. Last year, he was being particularly lauded for his appearances in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, as well as Denis Villeneuve’s high-budget remake of the sci-fi epic, Dune. These were two of the most highly-anticipated projects of 2021, so just how did Timmy (yes, we are fans) land roles in both of them?
Growing up in the Hell’s Kitchen district of Manhattan in New York, Timmy studied at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York where he briefly dated Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes Leon. LaGuardia is the flagship performing arts school in the city, and it boasts an impressive celebrity alumnus, including Robert De Niro, Jennifer Aniston and Nicki Minaj. Despite lacking the grades, he was admitted to the school based on his acting audition. After graduating in 2013, he briefly attended Columbia University to study anthropology. However, it was in his freshman year that he made his film debut in Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children, before making an even greater impression in Interstellar. So, in order to pursue his acting career, he transferred to New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
Having already landed regular parts in shows such as Homeland and Royal Pains in 2012, it was his performance as the lead character’s son in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar that propelled his acting career in its current direction. The picture went on to make $675 million worldwide, and the cast was praised for their performances. However, Timmy admitted in an interview with fellow actor Emma Stone, “I went home with my dad and wept for an hour” after seeing the film, having realised his part was not as big as he had anticipated. Despite his small role in the film, his screen presence was enough to earn him auditions for subsequent projects. However, like many other young performers, Timmy had a string of failed auditions and turned to the New York stage scene instead, eventually playing on Broadway where he received critical acclaim. Perhaps it was on the city’s biggest and brightest stages that he honed his acting abilities to the point where he could ultimately become the household name he is now.
Chalamet eventually found work off the stage as well, most notably in 2016 with the independent film Miss Stevens, in which he appeared alongside Lily Rabe and fellow rising star, Lili Reinhart. Though, it wasn’t until the beautiful narrative of a confused first love in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name that he was thrust into the spotlight. This was a bold step for a relatively unknown actor, but Chalamet stepped up to the plate, learning not only to play the guitar and piano, but also to speak Italian. The film was released in 2017 and a box office hit, grossing around $40 million worldwide, which in comparison to its budget, was extremely profitable. Before the end of the year, he had a supporting role in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird as a nihilistic high school musician (the near polar opposite of his previous role). His nomination for a Golden Globe for this role solidified his reputation as here-to-stay. A year later, he was the third youngest nominee for Best Actor in Oscar history. So, it’s official: 2017 was the year when “Chalamania” took off.
These projects catapulted him into a variety of diverse and dynamic roles in well-respected films, and in 2018, he proved he could handle any drama with his performance in Beautiful Boy. This was an autobiographical biopic about a struggling young drug addict and his strained relationship with his father, played by Steve Carell. Chalamet gave a gritty performance, emphasising the film’s relevance in confronting the fear of discussing the addiction crisis in the United States. In 2019, he played the charming Laurie in Gerwig’s Little Women in addition to playing the bloody ruler, King Henry V in David Michod’s Shakespearean timepiece, The King. His ability to adapt to an array of genres as well as injecting a bit of himself into each performance is a testament to his depth as an actor. It is no surprise he has already been described as the “heir to Leonardo DiCaprio’s throne”.
Chalamet told Time earlier this year, “I’m figuring it out,” but it appears to us that he already has it figured out. This leading man is not going anywhere anytime soon. Fast-forward to 2021 and after biding his time with a career of carefully chosen and meaningful films, only then did he star in his first blockbuster, in a production no less massive than Dune, while also launching the festival hit, The French Dispatch. Then at Christmas, Timmy surprised as all by appearing alongside Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio in Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. In terms of 2022 projects, Timmy reunited with Luca Guadagnino to film the cannibalism-themed Bones & All, which unfortunately does not have an official release-date yet. He has also recently been filming Wonka, a prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which he will star as a young version of Willy Wonka. Fans will then have Dune: Part Two to look forward to in 2023. If he made it big in 2017, he looks to be making it even bigger now.