W MAGAZINE – “I first met with Luca when I was 17,” Chalamet, who is now 21, told me at the photo shoot for W. He was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. “We had lunch, and Call Me by Your Name seemed far away from being real. It seemed unlikely that I would be the lead of the movie, or that the movie would happen at all. What I did know is that if the movie did manage to happen, Luca would have his fingerprints on every shot of the film. His superpower is his sensuality—his ability to make everything feel romantic.”
Guadagnino, who also directed I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton as a rich Milanese wife who has a life-changing affair with a chef, as well as A Bigger Splash, in which Swinton plays a sort of Bowie-esque rock star whose bohemian idyll on a Mediterranean island is interrupted by the arrival of her producer (and former lover) and his daughter, was very involved in the casting for Call Me by Your Name.
INTERVIEW – While filming his big-screen debut, Christopher Nolan’s astrophysical drama Interstellar, Timothée Chalamet knew very little of Hollywood, let alone the world. The native New Yorker had completed two short films and a role on Homeland, but at 17 did not yet know how to drive a car (though one of his scenes did require him to take over steering a pickup truck barreling through a cornfield). Thankfully for him, his onscreen father, Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, was there to give Chalamet some guidance, through the stalks of corn and beyond.
In the time since Interstellar’s 2013 release, the 21-year-old actor has gotten his license, spent a year studying at Columbia University, and worked on upcoming films with everyone from Christian Bale (as a soldier in Hostiles, a Western directed by Scott Cooper), Steve Carell (as a young man struggling with addiction in the film Beautiful Boy), and Greta Gerwig (in the actress’s directorial debut, Lady Bird). He also learned to play a couple of musical instruments and picked up Italian, all in preparation to star in this year’s Sundance sensation Call Me By Your Name. In the romantic drama adapted from the novel by André Aciman, written for the screen by James Ivory and directed by Luca Guadagnino, Chalamet plays a teenager who falls in love with Armie Hammer’s character, an older American grad student working with his father for the summer.
To hear Chalamet tell it, though, there is still much to learn. And there is no better mentor to have than McConaughey, which the rising star was reminded of when he called the screen-veteran last month to discuss finding balance in their business.
W MAGAZINE – When Timothée Chalamet talks about his challenging upbringing in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, or the behavioral issues that plagued him as a teenager, or his struggles with how to approach this whole acting thing, he would like you to understand that he is not doing so from inside a bubble. He knows that there are people out there with far worse problems, so please don’t judge him, okay?
“These are first-world problems to the max. Seriously, I don’t want anyone reading this to think, ‘Woe is me,’” says the excitable 20-year old actor. Over 45 minutes in a booth at the Cozy Soup ‘N’ Burg, in Soho, he repeated multiple variations on this phrase. “In these kind of interviews—and this isn’t a woe-is-me kind of thing, these are just observations—for whatever reason that I’m supposed to be wide-eyed, very thankful, excited. You hear that word a lot, excited—exciting, fresh-faced kid. And that part of me really exists… but, well, there are other shades of me.”
Okay, perhaps we start over. So Timothée Chalamet, an attractive 20 year-old actor who would never want to be pigeonholed as wide-eyed, is seated in the corner booth of a Soho diner, stealthily decimating a bowl of matzo ball soup. He is here to talk about his role in Prodigal Son, a new play written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, which opens in a Manhattan Theatre Club production at City Center—Stage 1 on Tuesday, February 9th.