Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What You Probably Never Knew About Timothée Chalamet

In recent years, Timothée Chalamet has become a well-known name, beginning with his breakout role in Luca Guadagnino's 2017 coming-of-age drama "Call Me By Your Name," which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination (via IMDb). In that same year, he also played a smaller — but still memorable — role in Greta Gerwig's award-winning directorial debut "Lady Bird." Since then, he has starred in films such as 2018's "Beautiful Boy," and 2019's "The King," and "Little Women." Meanwhile, he had three films out in 2021 alone: Wes Anderson's "The French Dispatch," Adam McKay's star-studded "Don't Look Up," and Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of the sci-fi epic "Dune."

Clearly, the young actor already has an impressive resume to his name — and Chalamet seems to have no plans of slowing down any time soon. Chalamet is teaming up with Guadagnino once again for a coming-of-age romantic horror film titled "Bones & All," based on the novel of the same name by Camille DeAngelis. After that, he has two films slated for 2023: "Dune: Part Two" and "Wonka," and in the latter, he will be playing the young version of the titular character.

If you're already fan of Chalamet, then you likely know all of this already. So, let's dive into some things that even his biggest fans may not know.

Chalamet says acting feels different in each language (he speaks multiple)

Chalamet is fluent in both English and French, since his father is French and he grew up spending summers in France. Additionally, he speaks some Italian, as seen in "Call Me By Your Name." After explaining that he spent six extra weeks in Italy ahead of filming to learn the language, Chalamet elaborated to Newsweek, "Learning the Italian was tough ... I'm proud of the job I do with the Italian in the movie, but I would maybe just do it phonetically if I had to go back and do it again."

As a result, Chalamet now has the privilege of being able to act in three different languages — something that he says feels different, depending on which language he's speaking. While in conversation with musician Frank Ocean for VMan, the topic of languages came up. Ocean asked Chalamet if "things [can] be expressed or even felt differently, because of the language."

Chalamet responded, "When I act in French, it's really shocking to me how it feels more grounding than acting in English. I grew up speaking French with my dad, but it's not a language I have as much command over, so when I speak or act in French, the words mean so much to me; I'm so focused." He then noted that much of his character's feelings in "Call Me By Your Name" are conveyed through movement rather than language, but that speaking in Italian still had its own uniqueness. He added, "Acting in Italian, I'm really winging it: memorizing how lines sound phonetically, just trying to get the intonations and mannerisms right, so the lines ring true to Italian audiences."

The Dark Knight made him want to become an actor

All actors have their reasons for wanting to work in Hollywood, whether it be a childhood dream or watching a parent work as an actor and so on. For Chalamet, it was watching Christopher Nolan's second installment in his Batman trilogy, "The Dark Knight" — specifically, seeing Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker — that convinced him to go into acting.

While giving a speech at New York Film Critics Circle Awards, where he won the best actor award, Chalament told the story of seeing "The Dark Knight" in theaters when he was 12-years-old (via IndieWire). He said, "I left that theater a changed man, and I'm serious about that. Heath Ledger's performance in that film was visceral and viral to me, and I now had the acting bug. I didn't know that around that time, Mr. Ledger was accepting the award for Best Actor at the New York Film Critics Circle for 'Brokeback Mountain.'"

Chalamet has since had a couple of full-circle moments in relation to "The Dark Knight." Firstly, he worked with Nolan on "Interstellar" and, secondly, he starred in "Dune," which, like "The Dark Knight," has a score by Hans Zimmer. Chalamet told Deadline that having Hans Zimmer work on "Dune" felt like a "pinch-me moment all over" due to the legendary composer's work on "The Dark Knight."

He auditioned to play Spider-Man but lost to Tom Holland

Back in April of 2015, it was reported that Sony Pictures and Marvel had compiled a short list of actors that they were considering to play the next Peter Parker — and Chalamet was one of them (via The Wrap). Alongside Chalamet, the list included Nat Wolff, Asa Butterfield, Liam James and the actor who eventually landed the role, Tom Holland.

While accepting an award at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards in 2018, Chalamet told an anecdote about the time he auditioned for "Spider-Man" (via The Hollywood Reporter). Chalamet told the crowd, "I read twice and I left sweating in a total panic. I called my agent, [UTA's] Brian Swardstrom, and I said, 'Brian, I thought about this a lot and I have to go back and knock on that door and read again,' and he told me the story of Sean Young and how in an attempt to become Catwoman had scared everyone away when she showed up at the studio gates in costume."

Despite Chalamet not landing the role, Holland would still love to see Chalamet show up in the MCU — specifically, Holland thinks that Chalamet could make a great villain opposite Spider-Man. In an interview with Associated Press Entertainment, Holland and his "Spider-Man: No Way Home" costars (including Zendaya, who has acted opposite Chalamet in "Dune") were asked who they could see Chalamet playing within Marvel. Holland answered, "I think it would be good to bring him in as a [friend to Peter Parker] and then he kind of becomes bad, and then he can be a villain. He'd be a good villain."

Chalamet is grateful to have started with small films

Nowadays, Chalamet is no stranger to big budget films, thanks to starring roles in blockbusters like "Dune" and the upcoming "Wonka." But his first few films — from "Call Me By Your Name" to 2014's "Men, Women & Children," and 2016's "Miss Stevens" — had budgets nowhere close to that of something like "Dune," or even "Don't Look Up."

Chalamet has spoken publicly about his gratitude for having begun his career this way. He told Empire Magazine, "I was fortunate enough to work on small-budget, independent films around the world, whether it was 'Call Me By Your Name' or 'Miss Stevens' or 'Lady Bird,' or 'Beautiful Boy' ... I wouldn't do it any differently because coming from a drama high school too was the perfect notch-up. It made sense. To be brave enough to learn from one's own experience. There was a step up that felt healthy about that."

The topic also came up in the VMan conversation with Frank Ocean, during which Chalamet admitted that, while he auditioned for bigger budget roles, he ultimately hadn't gotten them and now feels appreciative of how things worked out. He said, "They just didn't choose me, and it's been gratifying, coming from more of a place of artistry and not just pure exposure."

Chalamet had a deep desire to play Paul in Dune before he was cast

Many see Chalamet as being perfectly cast for the role of Paul in "Dune" but for the actor, his dream was primarily to work with Denis Villeneuve, more than take part in Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic. Chalamet revealed to Empire that he was keeping up with Legendary's process of adapting "Dune" and he was itching to become involved, once Denis Villeneuve signed on to direct. In an interview with Deadline, Chalamet explained that although he just had a surface level understanding of the story of "Dune," he set up Google alerts on his phone for the project when he found out that Villeneuve would be helming "Dune." 

Chalamet then bought the book and was halfway through reading it when Villeneuve got in contact, asking to meet. Chalamet continued, "I quickly busted through the second half of the book as best I could. So, like, the first half of my copy is properly annotated and full of my thoughts, and then the second half I just raced through. And then I had that meeting with him, and it was such a joy."

Luckily, Villeneuve had just as much of a desire to work with Chalamet and cast him as Paul. In fact, Villeneuve told GQ that he had no backup plan — Chalamet was his "first and only choice." The director said, "I felt that there was one being on this planet right now that would be able to portray Paul Atreides ... He has a deep, deep intelligence in the eyes. Something you cannot fake. The kid is brilliant."

Chalamet is happy to take on smaller roles with big directors

In a profile for GQ, Chalamet revealed that he has been more than happy to take on smaller, supporting roles in films, if it means getting to work with directors he really admires. This is the reason he can be seen in Wes Anderson's "The French Dispatch" and Adam McKay's "Don't Look Up" (both from 2021). "The French Dispatch" is made up of a series of vignettes, and Chalamet appears in just one section for 20 minutes, according to Vogue. He plays Zeffirelli, a young student and leader of the "Chessboard Revolution," who has a brief affair with the journalist reporting on the revolt, played by Frances McDormand. 

Speaking to GQ, Anderson discussed casting Chalamet, stating, "I knew he was exactly right, and plus: He speaks French and looks like he might actually have walked right out of an Éric Rohmer movie. Some time around 1985. A slow train from Paris, a backpack, a beach for 10 days in bad weather. He's not any kind of type — but the New Wave would have had a happy place for him."

According to Screen Time Data, Chalamet is in only 17 minutes of "Don't Look Up." In McKay's most recent endeavor, Chalamet plays Yule, a shoplifter who meets and befriends doctoral candidate Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) about halfway through the film. As it turns out, in the case of "Don't Look Up," Chalamet almost didn't take on the role due to its smaller nature, despite wanting to work with McKay. McKay told Variety that once he figured out that Yule would turn to faith in the face of the nearing of the end of the world, Chalamet agreed to take the supporting part, which felt like it had more depth than its original inception. 

Chalamet was excited to match Frances McDormand

In "The French Dispatch," Chalamet acts opposite four-time Oscar-winner Frances McDormand. McDormand's journalist Lucinda and Chalamet's young student Zeffirelli have a brief affair, despite the fact that Lucinda is writing a story on Zeffirelli's "Chessboard Revolution." However, it wasn't too long ago that Chalamet was too intimidated to even speak with McDormand face to face. Chalamet told GQ, "We'd shared an agent. And it was no disrespect to me, but I hadn't been in any movies yet. What business do I have talking to Frances McDormand?"

Chalamet elaborated that, as he has taken on more and more roles, he has found himself more ingrained in the community of actors dedicated to artistry and craft — or, "thespians," as he told GQ. He continued, "To be able to have conversations [about life and careers and so on] like that and then a storyline in the movie where they're kind of on an equal field? Even if [Lucinda is] an experienced, wise woman and [Zeffirelli is] an idealistic, naive boy? That's the exact relationship of exchange I want with my intergenerational peers." Additionally, Chalamet told Coup de Main Magazine that it was "an invaluable experience" getting to work with and learn from McDormand.

Chalamet helped style Laurie in Little Women

In 2019, Chalamet starred as Theodore "Laurie" Laurence in Greta Gerwig's adaptation of "Little Women," based on the 1868 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. And, as it turns out, Chalamet did more than just act for the film — he also helped style his character.

While speaking with Variety's The Big Ticket podcast, Gerwig revealed that once costume designer Jaqueline Durran (who won an Oscar for best costume design for "Little Women") realized that Chalamet has a keen fashion sense, she let him contribute to his character's outfits. Gerwig said, "The truth is Jacqueline [Durran], the costume designer, said Timothée has such a fabulous sense of style that she basically would just let him do what he wanted. She did hang a bunch of different costumes in his trailer and say, 'Whatever you want to put together.'"

Durran herself also commented on this while speaking with Vulture about Laurie's costume design, which she said incorporated modern pieces to make his look more palatable for younger audiences. Durran pulled from different time periods to keep viewers interested in Chalamet's look, and to also help channel his identity and sensibility into his character's style. She discussed how she and Chalamet — whom she calls "one of the most stylish people" she's ever met — enjoyed collaborating with one another on Laurie's looks. Durran said, "He contributed so strongly to how he wore the clothes. When we were fitting for them, I'd tell him, 'Look at these things, this is what you got, how would you wear it?' That's how we went on and got the flavor of Timothée into the style of the clothes."

He called making The King a humbling experience

"Little Women" wasn't the only period piece of Chalamet's to come out in 2019: He also starred in Netflix's "The King," an epic war film based on three of Shakespeare's plays that focus on "Hal" a.k.a. King Henry V of England. Chalamet received praise for his performance as Hal, with David Ehrlich of IndieWire writing, "The strength of [Chalamet's] performance is in how he lets the uncertainty bubble through him like indigestion, headstrong and shaking from the neck down — he's never looked younger than he does in this movie." This successful performance, as it turns out, was no easy feat from Chalamet's perspective. 

While speaking with Entertainment Inquirer, Chalamet reflected on the challenges of starring in "The King." He noted that he was attracted to the role because of its challenging nature and because it seemed like an unexpected move. He continued, "But also it meant literally and metaphorically being in the mud and being bad a lot again. It was good to work immediately on something so challenging in that regard."

All in all, Chalamet says he is grateful for the experience and noted that "The King" reminded him of much of what he learned in drama high school. The actor concluded, "I love acting and there is something glorious about it and certainly when a movie works, it's great. Yet the process of doing nine takes and you got that wrong, it's very humbling. So it was really good for me to do that."

Chalamet is grateful for his arts high school education

Before Chalamet was the major star he is today, he learned his acting skills from a performing arts high school: LaGuardia in New York City. Chalamet has brought up his high school background on several occasions, and has noted that he appreciates the time he spent at LaGuardia. 

In an interview with BAFTA Guru, Chalamet reflected on what he learned during his time at LaGuardia, including some of the most important tools he still uses as an actor. He explained, "I think honesty and being as open a book as possible, I think that was the biggest takeaway from the drama high school I went to. For me [it was] keep your heart on your sleeve, as an actor. That's your instrument, your ability to make yourself an open wound is what will communicate to the audience and what will hopefully serve as a therapeutic device for people experiencing something similar to the story."

Chalamet also noted that adaptability is just as important, citing malleability as a necessary ability when working with different directors because it's going to be a different experience every time. He added, "You try to make yourself as clay-like, as malleable as possible, a blip in the radar." Clearly, Chalamet's time at this performing arts school made a deep impression on him. In fact, his relationship with the school precedes the years he spent there, as his mother also attended LaGuardia as a dance major (via The Guardian).