AGED just 21, Timothée Chalamet is tipped to be the youngest best actor Oscar nominee since Mickey Rooney in 1939 for coming-of-age gay romance Call Me By Your Name.
‘Oh wow, I haven’t seen anything like that,’ he says self-deprecatingly — the American exudes gangly charm. ‘What the journey’s been thus far, how well the film’s been received, has been a dream come true.’
As well as carrying the film, Call Me By Your Name also required Chalamet to speak Italian, play the guitar and piano, and repeatedly get sexually intimate with Lone Ranger star Armie Hammer.
‘I had already watched A Bigger Splash [by the same director, Luca Guadagnino] and the characters in that are so physically vibrant, particularly Ralph Fiennes [who memorably goes full-frontal skinny dipping], so I had no anxiety about the intimate close-ups,’ he says.
Born and raised in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, Timothée (who generally goes by ‘Timothy’, though it’s correctly pronounced ‘tim-oh-tay’ à la the former shampoo) is the son of a French Unicef editor (hence his name and fluent French) and an American dancer turned estate agent.
Following his big sister, he attended the LaGuardia ‘Fame’ school, where he was the year below his ‘great friend’, Ansel ‘Baby Driver’ Elgort. (‘Truthfully I went because I thought there’d be less academic work!’ he says.)
But it was Heath Ledger’s widely praised (and terrifying) turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight that made Chalamet desperately want to be an actor, so being cast as Matthew McConaughey’s son in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was a personal career high. You may also know him for TV’s Homeland, in which he played the boyfriend of Brody’s daughter, and even for dating Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes — ask Chalamet about that and he just smiles and makes a zipping motion across his lips. He’s also currently shooting the new Woody Allen movie — cue more lip-zipping.
Despite this reticence, Chalamet insists he’s yet to feel his privacy has been much intruded upon.
‘I really don’t get bothered that often — if ever,’ he says.
With all the Oscars buzz surrounding Call Me By My Name, that’s surely set to change.This time next year Timothée Chalamet’s name will be on everyone’s lips. Feel smug you’ll know how to pronounce it.
Call Me By Your Name is in cinemas now