VANITY FAIR – A chat about high-school musical auditions, awards-season madness, and why Chalamet almost didn’t get into the prestigious LaGuardia High.
Timothée Chalamet and Ansel Elgort, 22 and 23, respectively, are both having what their generational cohort might refer to as “#blessed” starts to their careers. Both native New Yorkers, the two actors were each nominated for a best-actor Golden Globe award this year, Chalamet for his turn as a lovesick teenager in Call Me by Your Name, and Elgort for his performance as the titular “Baby” in last summer’s Baby Driver. Chalamet is also widely predicted to get an Oscar nomination for his performance when the nods are announced January 23.
The two both attended LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, located near Lincoln Center—a school known as something of an incubator for standout artists in a variety of fields. (Jennifer Aniston, Nicki Minaj, and Sarah Paulson are among the notable alums.) In December, Elgort—a passionate New York Knicks fan—posted an Instagram from Madison Square Garden featuring himself and Chalamet courtside, with this caption: “Laguardia high school pride. It’s really crazy, Timmy and I played on the same basketball team, we had the same drama teacher Mr. Shifman, we had the same science teacher Mr.Singh, and then in the same year, both of us are nominated for a f$&king Golden Globe!!! Living the dream sitting courtside at the Knicks game together. Life is crazy.” (MTV recently asked both actors which of the two was more popular in high school, and they each answered with the other’s name.)
“Mr. Shifman” (first name: Harry) has been teaching drama at LaGuardia for 26 years. He refers to himself as a “generalist,” but explains that “mostly, [he is] a director”; he oversees the school-wide musical each year, for which anywhere from 350 to 500 students audition, with about 35 to 45 getting cast. (Elgort got his first role in the musical his freshman year.) Vanity Fair gave Shifman a call to discuss what Elgort and Chalamet were like as high-school students, why Chalamet almost didn’t get into the high school in the first place, and who he remembers as the most popular.