The phrase « breakout year » and the name Timothée go together like peaches and cream. All it took was one year or us all to come to know (and love) him. Released toward the end of 2017, the film « Ladybird » struck a chord with many audiences, but specifically Chalamet’s performance, short yet significant (he plays the off-beat love interest alongside Saoirse Ronan). The film quickly rose to success, garnering lots of attention for Chalamet.
Then came « Call Me By Your Name »: a movie about a long summer « somewhere in northern Italy ». The film is filled with apricot juice, balmy afternoons, and of course, an infamous peach. The whole thing is absolutely stunning, and portrays one of the purest coming-of-age plots you will ever watch. In Chalamet’s words, « The villain in « Call Me by Your Name » is the tragedy of love.. »
In spite of hearing his name constantly through award season, it wasn’t until I watched « Call Me By Your Name » that I took the time to look him up.
I can now say that I’ve successfully caught up with the rest of the world and fallen in love with the young actor’s work; he fits the whole ‘to know him is to love him’ thing pretty well.
His curly hair and boyish smile is reason enough to stare, but in « Call Me By Your Name » he proved his talents go far beyond his charm. He speaks three languages throughout its entirety and plays his complex and conflicted character with unexpected vulnerability.
There are many reasons audiences find his talents mesmerizing, but one of the biggest (I believe) is the lack of fear he involves when it comes to selecting his roles. He steps into characters that are explorative and tortuous, showing off his artistic ambition which can be a rare thing to find in someone so young.
Chalamet said that before being chosen for these two groundbreaking roles, he was up for « bigger, more commercial projects. » He goes on to explain that he’s very grateful he didn’t get them because of how gratifying it’s been « coming from more of a place of artistry and not just pure exposure. »
He explains his 2017 as extremely new, and no doubt a whirlwind of an experience. Yet we see that he has somehow managed to land exactly what he needed to. He explains, « The desire was always just to be working with great directors and good storytellers and good actors. By tremendous luck, I get to be in two films (for 2017) that I’m very proud of and get to work with Greta and Luca were transformative experiences. I’m just trying to savor it. »
He grew up in New York and refers to his years at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, a school he shared with Ansel Egort, as being an almost pivotal experience for him personally. He describes his sophomore year as difficult yet important. It was in those four years that he in some sense, artistically found his footing.
When he was young he spent his summers in France with his family, and said he has conveyed a lot of appreciation for the lifestyle there. « I became the French version of myself. » He says, « I was completely impregnated with culture and I even dreamed in French. »
Chalamet sparks a strange combination of intrigue and honest inspiration in me. My favorite way I’ve heard him described was by Ladybird director, Greta Gerwig. She calls him « a young Christian Bale crossed with a young Daniel Day-Lewis with a sprinkle of young Leonardo DiCaprio, and then raised speaking French in Manhattan and given a Mensa-level IQ and a love of hip-hop. »
When asked about his hopes for 2018, Chalamet responds, « Just that it feels more familiar. » With his slingshot year straight to the top, who can blame him!