What You Don't Know About Timothée Chalamet

Actors like Timothée Chalamet happen once in a generation. At only 26, the young star has the makings of a future Hollywood legend. With critically-acclaimed films like "Dune," "Beautiful Boy," and "Call Me By Your Name" under his belt — not to forget, a historic Oscar nomination as well (via Vox) — Chalamet is ushering in a new wave of youth-driven cinema rooted in monumental talent. Greta Gerwig, Chalamet's director on "Lady Bird" and "Little Women," put it aptly when she called him "a young Christian Bale crossed with a young Daniel Day-Lewis with a sprinkle of young Leonardo DiCaprio" (per GQ). This kind of high praise isn't uncommon for Chalamet, who is ever-so-casually acknowledged as "Hollywood's golden boy." 

And yet, Chalamet humbly says, "I want to attack and to lead my life with vigor, but I'm in the watching stage at the moment" (per Interview Magazine). As much as he is lauded for his acting genius, Chalamet has also attained status as a millennial icon epitomizing values like sensitivity, while challenging traditional norms of masculinity in the industry. "It's almost a high to be vulnerable. I really get that," he once said (via Vice). It is, therefore, not without reason that the actor has an army of Chalamaniacs swooning over and rooting for him (per The Guardian). Read on to know more about Timothée Chalamet and what makes him such a sensation. 

He comes from rather varied heritage

There are many layers to Timothée Chalamet — literally! The 26-year-old actor traces his heritage back to multiple cultures. There's a rich mix of Russian and Austrian ancestry on his mother Nicole Flender's side (via The Huguenot Society of America). Chalamet, a Jewish American, also maintains a profound connection to France from the side of his father, Marc Chalamet, a journalist for French media platforms who has worked extensively with the United Nations. Though he was born in New York, Chalamet spent many summers in France as a young boy and speaks fluent French. His older sister Pauline — who is also an actor and has worked on films like "The King of Staten Island" (via The Guardian) — has remained tethered to her French roots, and has lived in Paris over the last decade (per W Magazine). 

"Call Me By Your Name," meanwhile, was noted for foregrounding themes of identity with Chalamet's character (also Jewish) simultaneously navigating his religion and sexuality. According to Chalamet, the Jewish representation was "a driving force in the film" (via Film School Rejects). 

Performing arts is something that runs through the Chalamet siblings' veins. Their grandparents (on Flender's side) had stints in screenwriting and Broadway, while their mother also trained as a ballet dancer, appearing in musicals and even a short film titled "Birdwatcher" (via The Guardian). They got it from their mama, literally! 

His first acting job was on Law and Order

Timothée Chalamet has been hitting it out of the ballpark in Hollywood in recent years. Before he made it big on the big screen, though, the actor kickstarted his career with television. Among his first credited screen roles was on the legal drama series "Law & Order," on which he appeared in a 2009 episode (via IMDb). He was only 13 then, according to Vogue, and played a young murder victim named Eric Foley. Chalamet was brought face to face with his old self on Ellen DeGeneres' show in 2019, when she pulled out a clip from the series. "That was my first acting job ever," Chalamet said, calling the show the "mothership" where many actors find their footing (via Insider). 

He went on to play recurring roles on shows like "Homeland" and "Royal Pains," before landing a break in 2014 with Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar," in which he plays lead actor Matthew McConaughey's son. As big a star as he may be now, Chalamet was actually in tears over his part in "Interstellar," which he thought would be bigger: "They didn't even cut anything. I just figured — I don't know what I figured," he ruminated (via People). Despite the blues, Chalamet confessed to watching the award-winning sci-fi film a total of 12 times in the theaters! After coming to wide notice with the film, Chalamet briefly attended Columbia University before he began clinching more prominent roles (via Interview Magazine). 

He is actually quite an old, wise soul in a young body

Don't let Timothée Chalamet's youthful appearance fool you, because inside the actor actually lives a wise old intellectual. His interviews reflect maturity that is deep and rare for his age. "There's such depth to his person. There's wisdom, well beyond his years," Nic Sheff, the author Chalamet played in "Beautiful Boy," said about him (via Deadline). He further reflected how Chalamet can switch between being a regular kid and a "contemplative and articulate spokesperson." There was a time when Chalamet was characterized as an "exciting, fresh-faced kid" — "And that part of me really exists ... but, well, there are other shades of me," he told W Magazine in 2016.

Chalamet's remarks reveal a man who is intensely self-aware: "On my worst days, I feel a tension in figuring it out. But on my best days, I feel like I'm growing right on time," he told Time. And for someone who spends a huge chunk of his life in the public eye, Chalamet's ideas about using his reach to weigh in on issues that matter are rather thoughtful. 

Mental health, for instance, is a subject he believes deserves more meaning than just Instagram dialogue. On issues like drug addiction, he has kept his speech carefully guarded: "I don't want to be cavalier about it," he told The Guardian. Dennis Villeneuve, Chalamet's director on "Dune," attested to his profoundness, calling him "a thoughtful, poetic spirit" (via Time). 

He counts Saoirse Ronan among his best friends

If the on-screen chemistry between actors Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan in the three films that they have appeared in together appears astoundingly organic, it's probably because they are also the best of friends off-screen. "Saoirse's one of my best friends in the world — at least I think we're best friends," Chalamet told GQ in 2020, gushing about his "Lady Bird" co-star and calling her nothing less than a superhero when it came to work. Ronan, meanwhile, also had only great things to say about her friend whose career has run parallel to hers the last few years. "He has good people around him, and I'm one of them," she declared. They first shared the screen in 2017 in Greta Gerwig's highly-acclaimed "Lady Bird," followed by "Little Women" and "The French Dispatch." 

It seems from the time that she began working with Chalamet, Ronan was convinced of his extraordinariness. "I always knew he was very special. And he was very magnetic as an actor. We've always just felt very comfortable with one another," she said (per Dazed). Sure enough, the two have emerged as one of their generation's most popular film pairings — and their respective Oscar nominations speak much about the powerhouse combo they are! Their friendship is as full of banter as one would imagine it to be: "He keeps me on my toes," Ronan told Entertainment Weekly, with the publication calling attention to their sibling dynamic.

Despite the fame, he likes to keep his head

Timothée Chalamet's career may have had one of the earliest peaks ever seen in Hollywood — but you won't find the 26-year-old bragging about it. The "Dune" actor doesn't let all that resounding fame get to his head, so much so that he even dislikes being called a movie star; it's "like death" to him. "It's a combination of luck and getting good advice early in my career not to pigeonhole myself," he said (per Time). 

Timmy (as he is affectionately called by all who adore him, and really, who doesn't?) has the particularly striking quality of being humble, per The Things. His humility was on glorious display at the 79th Venice International Film Festival in 2022, when he stepped out of the premiere of his film "Bones and All" to spend time with fans waiting outside. 

"I want to get back to the undefined space again. I'm chasing a feeling," he pensively reflected to GQ in 2020, even as he scraped the great heights of celebrity. He is apparently also not a spendthrift, despite having a reported net worth of $10 million (via The Richest). Chalamet's mother, whose upbringing undeniably gives his personality foundation, told The Guardian that she would have been happy for him no matter the profession he chose and loves spending time with him — especially on red carpets: "It's as if we're going to a party and he's introducing me to some of his friends, his colleagues. Timmy is very personable."

He is an Oscars history maker

The genius of Timothée Chalamet is an indisputable certitude, one validated even by the Academy. For "Call Me By Your Name," the 2018 coming-of-age that established him as an actor worth his salt, Chalamet was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. He was only 22 then, making him the youngest nominee in the category in about eight decades. The momentous recognition did not obviate Chalamet's trademark proclivity for humility though, since he admitted having been quite starstruck at an Academy luncheon. "I'm the new guy!" he declared (per ABC7). Though he didn't clinch the award — which went to Gary Oldman for "Darkest Hour" — Chalamet has enamored masses. It shines through via a phenomenon called Chalamania, dedicated to the frenzy he inspires (via The Guardian). 

In a solid endorsement of his talents, Chalamet is famously called the Leonardo DiCaprio of his generation — though we hope he gets an Oscar sooner than it took for DiCaprio to get one! He has already given the world some memorable Oscar moments though, turning up shirtless at the 2022 ceremony in a daring and delightful subversion of the formal dress code (via W Magazine). Obviously, it left Chalamaniacs raving. Scott Cooper, Chalamet's director on "Hostiles," has admired Chalamet as a "once-in-a-generation talent," even drawing parallels between him and the formidable Christian Bale (per Deadline). 

He went to school with Ansel Elgort

Timothée Chalamet and Ansel Elgort, two of the most popular actors of their generation, have a connection that goes far back into their schooling years. According to E! News, the pair attended New York City's performing arts-focused Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School as classmates, and shared several classes on their timetables. They also notably shared a drama teacher, Harry Shifman, who is widely credited with giving an initial bolster to Chalamet and Elgort's aptitudes for acting. "I literally would not be an actor without that man," Chalamet gushed about Shifman, who delivered a special recorded message for his former student for the Oscars red carpet in 2018 (via ABC News). 

"He was extraordinarily gifted. ... Timothée was destined to be an actor," Shifman told the New York Post. Shifman had high praise for Elgort too, whom he began mentoring at 14 and quickly admitted to his acting studio: "I was totally blown away by him," he told Vanity Fair

The gentlemen that they are, Elgort and Chalamet both check in with their teacher once in a while. As for who was the more popular of the two in school, they pass the buck to each other. While Chalamet claimed he never got cast in school musicals because Elgort made his mark as a lead, Elgort maintained that though some people disliked him, nobody disliked Chalamet in school (via MTV). The two have been spotted hanging together at basketball games and, of course, film events. 

His film Beautiful Boy left him drained

"Beautiful Boy," which traces the difficult story of a drug-addled relationship between a father and son, brought out the very best of Timothée Chalamet's acting talents. But his sublime performance didn't come without consequences to his personality. Though the story wasn't his own, he "still felt really affected, drained, and a little devastated" by the end of it. "The movie isn't a downer, because it is really redemptive and hopeful, but it did feel like a punch to the stomach," he said (per Vice). Directed by Felix van Groeningen, "Beautiful Boy" (released in 2018) is adapted from books written by the father-son duo represented in the film, journalist David Sheff and his son Nic Sheff. 

Chalamet, who plays the role of a teen Nic in the throes of meth addiction, did so with sensitive reflection. "I realized I should lean away from playing a drug addict and rather play a human who's in a very difficult set of circumstances," he said (via The Guardian). Since it drew from real life, Chalamet revealed he was terrified to see the finished product and that it "wasn't the most comfortable experience" (via Vice). 

Nic Sheff, whose shoes Chalamet stepped into, hadn't heard about the young actor when they first met — "Call Me By Your Name" hadn't been released yet. But their first meeting convinced him that "the only thing [Chalamet] cared about was making sure that he did this in the right way" (via Deadline). 

He panicked while auditioning for Spider-Man

If his nerves hadn't been in a knot while auditioning for the role, we could well have seen Timothée Chalamet as Spider-Man. The Marvel Cinematic Universe role, which ultimately went to Tom Holland and is impossible to imagine as someone else's now, was tested for by a spate of young actors — from Asa Butterfield to Charlie Plummer, per The Hollywood Reporter. Chalamet was also among this club of hopefuls trying to land the lead in "Spider-Man: Homecoming," though he didn't manage to get too far. "I read twice and I left sweating in a total panic," he told the outlet. He deliberated over auditioning again, but it appears he didn't return. 

Although, not many know that Chalamet has in fact slipped into the Spidey suit in the past: "I did Spiderman on Broadway [as a Halloween costume] one year, which is good because all of the Spiderman guys were getting injured on Broadway, so I got a Spiderman costume and crutches, too," he told W Magazine. A famous picture of the getup even exists on the internet! The prospect of Chalamet being part of the "Spider-Man" world is so popular that even the real cast — Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon — has chewed over it. While Chalamet's "Dune" co-star Zendaya seemed to think he would do well as either a friend or foe of the superhero, Holland was of the opinion that he would make a good villain (via the Associated Press).

He is credited with redefining masculinity on screen

Timothée Chalamet is not your average heartthrob. Compare him to the universally acknowledged dreamboats of cinema — the likes of Brad Pitt or George Clooney, who have been recognized by People as some of the sexiest men alive — and an instant contrast shines through. Of course, they are men much older than Chalamet but they also belong to an era that defined masculinity differently. Chalamet, alongside contemporaries like Harry Styles, is widely credited with redefining the concept: "sensitive, thoughtful, creative, and unafraid to be who they are" is how Vice described them. Vogue, while noting how his character in "Call Me By Your Name" broke the mold of a typically Hollywood physique sans muscles, credits Chalamet for embodying "masculine sensitivity."

Being vulnerable, to Chalamet, doesn't manifest as a weakness. "It doesn't mean you're crazy or hyper emotional, you're just human ... Humans are complex; we need to feel a lot of things," he said in a conversation with Styles (via Vice). True to his sensitive characterization, Chalamet hasn't been shy about speaking his mind on matters of importance. At 22, he vocally lent support to the Time's Up movement and gender equality. Following sexual assault allegations against director Woody Allen, Chalamet announced he would donate his salary from "A Rainy Day in New York," the film they worked on together (via E! News).