Dateline Hollywood

Talented Timothée

Timothée Chalamet is a study in nonchalance in spite of the fame at his door
A Staff Writer speaks with the actor who is currently enjoying stardom

As he eases back in his hotel suite sofa as stylishly as one may expect of an actor with so much French heritage, Timothée Chalamet admits that he’s still struggling to process the attention and accolades being bestowed on him since fame arrived at his door.

The 28-year-old is intelligent, engaging and supremely articulate. He gives the impression of being an intellectual artiste with his tousled hair and elegant manner. Yet, in his own mind, he has achieved very little.

“I haven’t accomplished anything yet; and I’m still finding out about myself and my career. I’m at the point now where I want to step back to darker subjects and explore small projects, as well as big ones – it’s all evolution; all necessary.”

His new movie titled Dune: Part Two is tipped to be one of the biggest hits this year.

Despite the lukewarm performance of its predecessor, it proves that the star who was born in New York has the ability to move forward without the fear of looking back… A characteristic that will surely stand him in good stead in the years to come.

What also helps him is his diversity. He is bilingual and can comfortably get by in Italian as well.

Timothée explains: “I grew up speaking both French and English since my father comes from France. Italian is much more difficult – I guess I can now speak it to a certain level.”

A keen student of people, Chalamet admits that there wasn’t anybody he could emulate at the beginning of his career.

“At the start, I always felt it was too distant; and I had my own ambition to compete with actors rather than be like them. That sounds quite strange, doesn’t it? I really began to appreciate the true talent of actors after I’d spent some time working alongside them,” he reveals.

It was whilst filming Interstellar alongside Matthew McConaughey that Chalamet began to appreciate the skills of another actor.

“I had always resisted too much outside help before then; but with Matthew McConaughey, I was happy to be led. From day one, I knew this was going to be someone I owed so much to in my career. He was brilliant; a real inspiration – and he has helped me so much,” affirms Timothée.

The multi-nominated star explains: “I’ve benefitted a lot from his advice. He was the person who really showed me the value of preparing for a role… And I don’t mean reading a script. He was the one who told me how to properly immerse myself in a character, in the history, in the era, in the architecture… the whole thing.”

Fast forward a decade, and Timothée has swayed between a film about cannibalism in Bones and All to playing the mercurial Willy Wonka and the dystopian depths of Dune. It sometimes feels as if there’s nothing the actor and model isn’t capable of.

“Just to be clear, there is a lot I can’t do,” he says with a laugh.

Chalamet continues: “I am looking to try many different things in many different ways and that’s what always inspires me. I admit it is tough on the brain to go from a project such as Wonka that was so positive in every kind of way to Dune with all its darkness, conflict and intrigue. Yet, these contrasts of emotions are true of the daily lives we lead.”

This year’s reprisal of Paul Atreides in Dune: Part Two gives the actor a chance to build on what is a solid return for the Denis Villeneuve epic.

“Hopefully, the second one gets the same level of positive feedback. It was great shooting it, and this one has more action and a romantic slant. Actually, I was more worried about the reaction I’d get to being Willy Wonka. That comes with increased pressure and scrutiny,” Timothée confesses.

He continues: “Ultimately, everyone wants Dune to succeed and believes that it has the potential too. But it’s worth pointing out that the David Lynch original from the 1980s wasn’t actually that well received at the time. It became something of a slow burner and only really gained iconic status over the decades that followed.”

With no Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho in the followup to the 2021 edition and knowing that the books prove there is far more of the story to adapt, one wonders whether there will be a third movie from director Villeneuve.

“Denis decided very early on that he wanted to split the film into two parts and I think the first movie covers about 70 percent of the book. However, he also wants to cover the second book titled Dune Messiah – so a third movie is possibly in the offing,” Chalamet surmises.

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