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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

The rise of Dune star Timothee Chalamet: ‘I am here to show that wearing your heart on your sleeve is OK’

As Hollywood actor Timothee Chalamet looks forward to the big release of his sci-fi movie Dune, we take a quick detour to his beautifully evolving filmography.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
October 22, 2021 10:14:12 am
duneTimothee Chalamet in a still from Dune. (Photo: Warner Bros)

It seems like every day a new face comes along the horizon and makes a splashing debut that is talked about for a while. There is so much talent, so many names that sometimes it becomes difficult to keep count of various artistes. But the 25-year-old Dune star Timothee Chalamet is different. From the way he conducts himself on and off-screen, it seems evident the kind of effort he is putting in to have a long and healthy career in the big, bad world of Hollywood.

Timothee made his big screen debut in 2014 and became the cynosure of all eyes three years later with the coming-of-age film Call Me By Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino. So far, he has been embroiled in no controversies, is regular with his social media updates, which sometimes makes him very relatable and at other times, he gives the impression of an ethereal being (please head to his Instagram page for a clearer picture and you will know what I mean). In his interviews, he is simultaneously awkward and infectious. His one-on-one interview with Emma Stone courtesy Variety is a treat to watch. He comes across as someone who is genuinely interested in arts and movies, which basically translates to — ‘His passion for his job shows.’ It is rare for a person to have that, and let alone for an actor to pass that sense of curiosity to his audience.

Plus, Timothee Chalamet is a fine actor, someone who is becoming better with every passing feature. That is growth, and that is the only way for an artiste to keep his career in a highly competitive field with a million distractions. Remember Timothee in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Interstellar? He played the younger version of Matthew McConaughey’s son. The actor had admitted in an interview with colleague Emma Stone that he wept for an hour after discovering his part was smaller than he had ‘figured.’ Apparently, Chalamet’s long monologue was a part of the movie, but it largely featured lead star Matthew’s face.

Post Interstellar, he had work (Worst Friends, Love the Coopers and Miss Stevens), but it was not until the wonderfully told love story of a young man in Call Me By Your Name that Chalamet was drawn to the spotlight. And he has kept at it since then. The vulnerable, confused, artistic side of Elio Perlman, who falls for his older guest (portrayed by the now-controversial Armie Hammer) was lauded by critics and loved by the viewers. That final sequence which has Chalamet silently sobbing over his new heartbreak is touching, and almost painful to watch. It is as if you can see Elio remembering, reliving and grieving what was a bittersweet summer. After a while he lets out a soft breath and credits begin to roll on the side as we watch the young boy transform into a young man.

Holding your own in such a still, long close-up is no easy task. But Timothee made it look au naturel. And then came another Oscar nominated movie knocking on his door. Yes, I am talking about Lady Bird. The film was more Saoirse Ronan’s character’s story than this young, wayward flirt she had a fling with (played by Chalamet). But even in those few moments, their chemistry was palpable, almost begging to be recast in another movie as leads. And that happened with another Gerwig movie, Little Women. But before that, Chalamet dazzled as a drug addict in Amazon movie Beautiful Boy alongside Steve Carell. While the movie was a bit of a mess and long-winded, it was the performances that made the ride worthwhile. Here too, it was the on-screen bond of Carell and Chalamet, their scenes that was the USP. There is one where the father-son duo confront their feelings and each other in a diner. A heart wrenching but brilliant example of how a performer is supposed to make you feel. For his performance in the film, Chalamet was nominated for a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and a BAFTA.

Then came Little Women and Netflix’s The King. Both flawed but well-attempted movies with a starry cast. Chalamet did what was asked of him, he engaged us. In a recent interview with the Time magazine, the Dune actor was asked what does he feel he stands for. The answer was simple — “I feel like I’m here to show that to wear your heart on your sleeve is O.K.” Something that Timothee Chalamet does and represents with great skill.

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