At the tender age of 25, Timothee Chalamet has already accomplished an acting career certain industry veterans could only fantasise about (in both the artistic and commerical sense). The young thespian’s ouvre features collaborations with heavyweight directors ranging from Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, Greta Gerwig, to Denis Villeneuve; heavyweight dramatic talents ranging from Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Frances McDormand, to Oscar Isaac; and is currently the face of two potential blockbuster franchises in Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune and Paul King’s Wonka prequel.
That’s all before you consider his place in history as the third-youngest Academy Award Best Actor nominee for his breakthrough role as Elio Perlman in Luca Guadagino’s Call Me By Your Name. Where many dedicate entire lifetimes to earning an Oscar nod, it was something Chalamet managed to earn during the fourth year of his decade-long run as a professional actor. Are we indeed bearing witness to the making of an acting great in the same tradition of James Dean, River Phoenix, and Leonardo DiCaprio?
Like James Dean, River Phoneix, and Leonardo DiCaprio – the latter of whom Chalamet will share a screen with in Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up – this is something which goes beyond the devestating combination of conventional attractiveness, boyish vulnerability, as well as being insanely marketable. Sure, good looks and fashionability definitely helps getting a foot in the door, but it can only take you so far – just ask James Franco. What directors like Nolan, Anderson, Gerwig, Guadagino, Villeneuve, and by extension global audiences sees in Chalamet is a level of authenticity. A level of authenticity which oftentimes makes it seem as though he’s simply inhabiting a character, whole everyone else in the production acts (as correctly noted by Olly Richads of Empire). It’s a specific brand of performance that requires you to truly come alive emotionally + physically, as opposed to simulating a person wearing their heart on their sleeve.
Beyond the nebulous trait of “authenticiy,” what the aforementioned names and Timothee Chalamet also share is a remarkably similar career trajectory:
- Coming-of-Age Hit
TC: Call Me By Your Name (2017), Hot Summer Nights (2017), Lady Bird (2017)
JD: Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
RP: Stand By Me (1986)
LD: This Boy’s Life (1993), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
- Period Drama / Portraying Royalty
TC: The King (2019)
LD: The Man In The Iron Mask (1998)
- Addiction Film
TC: The Adderall Diaries (2015), Beautiful Boy (2018)
LD: The Basketball Diaries (1995)
- Becoming A Heartthrob
TC: Call Me By Your Name (2017), Little Women (2019)
LD: Romeo + Juliet (1996), Titanic (1997)
RP: [Non-specified, various]
JD: [Non-specified, various]
- Becoming A Queer Icon
TC: Call Me By Your Name (2017)
RP: My Own Private Idaho (1991)
JD: [Non-specified, various]
From here, it’s simply a matter of sustaining said trajectory. And it sounds like he’s found the basic blueprint for ongoing success…
“One of my heroes – I can’t say who or he’d kick my ass – he put his arm around me the first night we met and gave me some advice,” Chalamet reveals to Sam Lansky of Time.
“No hard drugs and no superhero movies.”
Sage wisdom in this day, age, and cultural landscape.
I suppose while the the evidence is compelling – and while the credentials practically speak for themselves – it might be a little premature to call it at this point. The mark of a true acting great essentially comes down to their impact on the ensuing generations of actors and actresses. Perhaps after another decade or so has elapsed, when fresh faces informed and inspired by his work emerge to take centre stage, the answer will become a little more clear. For the time being, however, one thing is for certain: Timothee Chalamet is a certifiably compelling player who represents the new guard of Hollywood – and the world is in his hands.
Now check out the thrilling final trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune here.