By Alisha Keane
It’s the name you keep on hearing and the name that probably took you a few tries to be able to pronounce, the hype surrounding that of French-American actor Timothée Chalamet is inescapable. With a career and a reputation reminiscent of Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1990s, it’s no wonder that us Gen Z-ers have created from him our own cultural icon and heartthrob in the same way our millennial predecessors did with Hollywood’s previous young, floppy-haired offering.
The 24-year-old actor has an impressive resume, boasting many films noticed by the Academy, such as Lady Bird (2017), Beautiful Boy (2018), The King (2019) and most recently starring as Greta Gerwig’s vision of Laurie in Little Women (2019). Most notably, his role as the heartbroken Elio in Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 film Call Me By Your Name is perhaps the one that elevated him to the stardom that he basks in now. It was the role that gained him an Oscar nomination for best actor in 2018, the youngest to be nominated since 1939. That peach scene and the single ending shot of Chalamet decked out in a fancy 80s polo neck and shirt staring into a fireplace crying quiet tears most certainly securing his loyal, “Mystery of Love” listening fanbase.
If you’re one of those who doesn’t get the hype, you may feel outnumbered. After all, no offence intended, he looks rather young, isn’t exactly built in any way, and does not cater to many people’s personal tastes when it comes to looks. But for a lot of Gen Z, he checks all the boxes completely. If you have ever spent a significant amount of time on TikTok, Twitter or YouTube, as I most certainly have, you have probably seen a lot of Timothée Chalamet content as well as Harry Styles, Shawn Mendes, and other relatively thin, brown curly-haired male celebrities. It appears if you’re a fan of one of these people, you are also a fan of the others. As Timothée’s aesthetic switches from e-boy (as exemplified by his Gorillaz t-shirt and stripy trouser combo while doing press for Little Women) to feminine (pink suits, Entertainment Weekly shoot with co-star Saoirse Ronan) to car mechanic/Jess from Gilmore Girls/Parking valet (his questionable Oscars look) is very much of the moment, it is easy to box his appeal directly in his good looks and amazing fashion choices. Fans of Chalamet look forward to seeing his red carpet looks almost as much as they look forward to seeing him in a movie. With the newfound fashion trend for men being embracing the feminine, it is no surprise that Chalamet is enjoying his spot alongside Harry Styles as the two leading the charge. One big moment for those who are fans of this duo was Styles interviewing Chalamet for i-D magazine, an incredibly smart PR decision, as it’s almost as though fandom for these two come hand in hand.
While Timothée’s popularity can be attributed to his style, his charming personality and sheer talent is most likely what’s securing most of his fans. The acting range that he has shown in his, at current, rather short career is astounding, his incredible (and Oscar snubbed, I’m still angry) performance as a struggling methamphetamine addict in 2018’s Beautiful Boy has proven that he is not just limited to romantic roles, and with an appearance in the trailer for Wes Anderson’s upcoming movie The French Dispatch, and a role in Dune (out this year) he is cementing his place in Hollywood stardom. The fact that he is part French and can speak the language has everyone swooning and gives him a certain edge that other actors don’t have. One of the things that Timothée Chalamet fans love to do is to compare his professional relationship with Saoirse Ronan to that of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and there are many similarities. Young starlets with undeniable chemistry, constantly praising each other in the press, co-starring alongside each other several times. Whether you see this comparison is up to you, but there is no doubt that Chalamet and Ronan’s friendship is a very important aspect of both of their respective popularities, and directors Greta Gerwig and Wes Anderson are smart to keep their chemistry alive on-screen. I would go so far as to say that this duo is even better than Leo and Kate, have you seen the proposal scene on the field in Little Women? It’s better than the entirety of Titanic.
Acting and fashion aside, he just seems like a nice guy, and watching a few interviews it’s easy to see where the fan base is coming from. Our new generational heart-throb has taken the shape of one Timothée Chalamet. A sickly-sweet personality and almost pristine reputation, not to mention his talent, good looks and style? There’s no hope for any of us.