Timothée Chalamet covers the November issue of GQ and presumably this was set when Dune was still supposed to be coming out at Christmas. The film has now been moved to October 2021 which means a year from now we’ll be doing it all over again and while this is not ideal for anyone, given the circumstances under which the schedule has been changed, it does give us an interesting future lookback. Because this is probably the most extensive profile of Timmy that’s been published up to this point in his career. He’s only 24 years old, it hasn’t been a long career, but it has been pretty spectacular so far which is why much of this piece is about Timmy trying to find himself and ground himself in success. As far as celebrity profiles go, this is an example of how when they work, they can serve both the subject and the reader. There is empathy here but it isn’t a puff piece. The writer, Daniel Riley, presents Timmy the way Timmy presents himself – and that’s the other part of the exchange: a good celebrity profile requires active celebrity participation. Timmy is present, he doesn’t dodge or deflect, but he also isn’t trying too hard to show you only what he wants you to see. How could he when he’s still trying to figure it out? What emerges then is a snapshot of an actor, one of the most gifted of his generation, who doesn’t have all the answers but is willing to be asked the questions. So to go back to the Dune delay, when he’ll be on promotion for it next year, and undoubtedly interviewed again, there’s now a marker for us to refer to at that point, to be able to see where Timmy is now and where he will be then.
So who is he now? Well for starters, and that’s why we’re here after all, he is very, very famous. Despite the fact that Dune, really, is his first major blockbuster. Usually when an actor is as popular and desired as Timothée Chalamet, they’re big because they’ve been in a big movie. Timmy’s movies aren’t superhero movies. They’re not action movies. They’re mostly character pieces – even his biggest film to date, The King, is more a character study about a young man coming to terms with his birthright than a true battlefield epic. But he has the celebrity footprint of someone’s whose work is commercially much louder and that’s an interesting space to navigate because there isn’t really a template for it. You go into a Marvel movie knowing that there’s a possibility you’ll become a heatscore by virtue of all the eyeballs it’s built to attract. You don’t go into Call Me By Your Name thinking you’re going to come out of it as famous as Spider-Man so when that does happen, on top of your Oscar nomination, of course it’s a mindf-ck. And for Timmy that hasn’t stopped. Which is what he’s still trying to work out in real time during this interview.
Not that he doesn’t have support. While there are so many things about Timothée that he is in the process of “making and remaking” as the title of the piece suggests, what probably won’t change is that the people who know him all observe that he’s drawn to people who are older, more experienced. Denis Villeneuve who directed him in Dune says it. Greta Gerwig says it. Wes Anderson says it. Frances McDormand says it. For Frances McDormand to show up in a GQ interview about Timmy tells you something about Timmy. We all know Frances is not spending her precious time taking a call from a journalist to talk about a young actor if she doesn’t have something valuable she wants to contribute. And this is what she had to offer about her co-star in The French Dispatch – they have a love scene!
“Maturity is not something a fellow actor is the most concerned with,” she said. “Playfulness, discipline, and rigor. I do recall, during our scene in bed, the crew responding to his work with true respect for his focus. He was bringing it and we sat up and paid attention.”
He was bringing it. We paid attention.
This is Frances McDormand, with her two Oscars, who has no f-cks to give and isn’t easy with a compliment making it known that Timothée Chalamet brought it so hard that she “sat up and paid attention”. And it’s not just her. Frances is married to Joel Coen. One night during filming, Joel was the one who invited Timmy out to dinner. It was Timmy who ended up trying to learn as much as he could from Joel, but then Joel Coen, who must know that every actor in the business would kill for face time with him, who writes and directs prestigious Hollywood films, was obviously taken by Timmy too. And it’ll be interesting to see whether or not, two or three years from now, Timmy will end up in a Coen Bros production.
So he hangs out a lot with people who are older than him – to the point where even his grandmother pointed it out, telling him that, “I wish you would hang out with people your own age more often. It must be so weird.”
Who are his contemporaries then? Well, Saoirse Ronan is an obvious one. And she too is part of this profile but the way he talks about her, it’s almost like he sees her as a mentor too:
“She is like a superhero when it comes to this sort of thing, going through it so healthy—with the asterisk being excellent work across the board and four Oscar nominations. I think her, like, DNA of self is really morally right.”
For those who’ve been shipping Timmy and Saoirse since Lady Bird, it’s a lifelong friendship – this generation’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, if you will. It’s when talking about Saoirse that Timmy gives my favourite quote in this profile:
“Saoirse's one of my best friends in the world—at least I think we're best friends. And she's never judged me for…the Coachella of it all.”
First of all, it’s pretty cute that he momentarily doubts whether or not he qualifies as one of her best friends. And it speaks to how he is in this entire article overall – someone who is constantly second-guessing himself but trying to give himself permission to believe what he believes and think what he thinks. But also… “the Coachella of it all”.
As much as he’s still finding his footing, he has some awareness of his contradictions. That out of one side of his mouth he is indeed struggling with fame but at the same time living the sh-t out of his fame. Isn’t this where the humanity is? Of course it must be difficult to be so known. But also, OF COURSE you can’t help but enjoy the benefits of being known! Who wouldn’t? Why deny it?
Anyway, while that’s my quote highlight, most of the coverage of this GQ profile has been focused on what Timmy said about Lily-Rose Depp, specifically Those Photos of them. You know the ones. But if you need a reminder…
People have memed the f-ck out of those shots and I don’t know about you but to me, those pictures were hot. Here’s what Timmy has to say about them:
“I went to bed that night thinking that was one of the best days of my life. I was on this boat all day with someone I really loved, and closing my eyes, I was like, indisputably, ‘That was great.’ And then waking up to all these pictures, and feeling embarrassed, and looking like a real nob? All pale? And then people are like: This is a P.R. stunt. A P.R. stunt?! Do you think I'd want to look like that in front of all of you?!”
First of all, that just endears him to me even more. That the way he wants to talk about those pictures wasn’t to complain about the paparazzi but to be like…ah sh-t, I don’t like how I looked.
Who are these people thinking it was a PR stunt?!
Like, I get that celebrities have f-cked around a lot with staging moments (hello Dominic West) but not everything is a fake either! If it was, why would we need to gossip?!
To read the full Timothée Chalamet GQ profile click here. My God he is beautiful.