Getting Into Acting – Timothée Chalamet
2021 should be renamed the year of Timothée Chalamet. The 25-year-old actor has not one, not two, but three films releasing which are all up for Oscar contention, with the actor starring alongside some of the biggest names in the business (Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Frances McDormand to name a few). But first let’s take a look back on the young actor’s meteoritic rise to fame and critical acclaim.
Born in Manhattan in 1995, Chalamet grew up in an artistic family. His mother was a Broadway dancer, his grandfather a writer, uncle a director, and sister an actor. With influences like these it’s no surprise that a young Chalamet took to acting from a young age in commercials and theatre. He attended LaGuardia High School of Music, Art & Performance Art, and it was there where he trained in Meisner; the technique which would carve his astonishing path through the acting world. ‘My favourite kind of acting scenes, or at least where I think people shine the brightest, are odes to Meisner technique scenes where people are face-to-face, and it’s almost like a repetition exercise.’
Chalamet’s most notable early roles in television came while he was still in High School, with parts in ‘Royal Pains’ and ‘Homeland’. His first film role was in 2014’s ‘Men, Women & Children’ closely followed by the science-fiction epic ‘Interstellar’ (2014), in which Chalamet played the role of Matthew McConaughey’s son. Chalamet’s true breakthrough year came soon after in 2017. His performance as Elio in ‘Call Me By Your Name’ netted Chalamet his first Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor. It also made him the first (and only) actor born in the 1990s to be nominated by the academy for best actor, and the youngest in 80 years. When asked about the process of certain scenes in ‘Call Me By Your Name’, Chalamet says ‘there are not a lot of cuts in those scenes…so there was the gift of getting to play them out and seeing where they would come naturally and what would really happen in the given physical circumstances’ (SBS). As Sanford Meisner himself says, ‘Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.’
Chalamet continued his hot streak with parts in Greta Gerwig’s Oscar nominated ‘Lady Bird’, and ‘Hostiles’, before receiving his second golden globe nomination for his role as Nic Sheff in ‘Beautiful Boy’. Working alongside his idols made Chalamet respect the work even more, ‘I saw that it (acting) could and should be treated as a craft’ (PeopleHop).
The last few years have been full of acclaimed and ambitious projects starring Chalamet, from Woody Allen’s ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ (2019), and Netflix’s ‘The King’ (2019), to Oscar-nominated ‘Little Women’ (2019). Now let’s cut to October 22nd, 2021. Chalamet starred in two films released on the same day, Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Dispatch’ and Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune: Part One’, both of which have garnered widespread praise. Also slated for release in 2021 is Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ starring Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and Leonardo DiCaprio alongside Chalamet. Timothée Chalamet is the name of the moment, a bona fide movie star.
Chalamet can’t stop, won’t stop working. He currently has three films in various stages of production for us to look forward to. The recently announced ‘Dune: Part Two’, ‘Bones & All’, and the hotly anticipated ‘Wonka’, following the early life of the eccentric chocolatier. On his role in ‘Wonka’ Chalamet quotes ‘It’s a celebration of being off-centre and of being OK with the weirder parts of you that don’t quite fit in’ (TIME Magazine), a call-back to Sanford Meisner’s teaching ‘the truth of ourselves is the root of our acting.’ As 2022 begins we reflect on the year that has been, one thing is for certain: Timothée Chalamet is the name on everyone’s lips, and he’s proven that he’s here to stay.
Billy Milionis is one of the few Australians to have ever studied under the legendary master teacher, the late Sanford Meisner. Billy has also studied story structure and scene analysis techniques with John Truby and later at UCLA. He has also spent several years doing improvisation in Hollywood with the L.A. Connection. In addition, he trained in the technique of Stella Adler, Practical Aesthetics and Lee Strasberg’s method.