I gather Timothee Chalamet did, in fact, spend part of quarantine in an Airbnb in the Woodstock area — supposedly to help him commune with Bob Dylan’s essence, as he’s playing Dylan in a biopic. Someday. Eventually. But even though this is technically accurate, this cover made me laugh. He looks fine, don’t get me wrong. But he also — in this shot, not in life — comes across like a guy who took his phone with him and set up a tripod, because if a fashion influencer wears brand new boots for five minutes with a $4550 coat, and does not selfie it while claiming to be taking a moment with nature, did it even happen? The inside photo feels less forced:
THIS has the vibe of, “Young Man Visits Family Cabin Upstate, Sleeps Outside Once To Prove He Can.” But I like the photo better of him. He seems a touch less bored, a touch more connected, even defiant: “You’ve got me all wrong. I slept outside twice.”
The profile is overwritten, and at times feels like the third Lord of the Rings movie, in that I kept thinking we’d reached the end and then, no, there was another scene, and another, and another. The core nugget that’s interesting is the notion of a young actor’s struggle with sudden and adoring notoriety, and the sharp jolt of being carried off by an awards tsunami, only to wash up back where you started with pocket change and nowhere to stay. It touches on the in-between space, when you might assume an actor has got it made, but in fact they’re still scraping by between projects. The author refers to this as Chapter 2, because he interviewed Chalamet two years ago when he was on the cusp, and it’s narratively satisfying to have that continuity.
The starry-eyed writing, though, reminded me of that infamous Vanity Fair piece about the True Detective creator, Nic Pizzolatto, where the author just went absolutely nuts for him in a way that was both over the top, and tinted by a personal relationship of sorts. I mean:
He is so young and he is so old. It is his gift. He is so patient when he can suppress being so restless. So careful with the long arc of a career when he can resist obsessing over the instant. He is so confident when he centers on the work and so searching when he gets sucked down into questions about the rest of his life. Will he always be this way? This pliable and open? This self-reflective and intentional? He trusted so little of his new life, but he trusted his talent. That was the key. He knew he was as good as anyone at playing other people, even if he was still figuring out how to play himself.
I’ll be honest: While Timothee the Fashion Plate has routinely delighted me even if I don’t love the outfits, because he is willing and playful and will deliver surprises, I haven’t responded to Timothee Chalamet the Actor in anything I’ve seen of his. So it was a little much for me to read such a looooong elegy to his genius, especially because artists discussing each others’ craft often veers into this type of tongue-bath, from Denis Villeneuve: “It’s just that sometimes you are in front of somebody and you have the feeling you are in contact with a strong artist and that artist, his identity is still growing, building itself, learning its boundaries, learning how to protect some part of it. I think that we are witnessing something beautiful right now.”
And yet: I still read most of the piece. It was too long for me, about someone whose work leaves me lukewarm at best, and yet I stuck with it. Saoirse Ronan makes an appearance, and every time I’d start to space out, a detail would bring me back in — like when he discussed shooting The King:
The role was like none of the films he’d just received notice for. “Here I am on set with all these Hungarian men with scars on their faces, and they’re like, ‘You’re the center of the shot, you’re the badass! And we know you tried to put on all this weight, but like: You’re wearing all the chain mail.’ If they took the chain mail off, my throat is still this big…” There he was trying to keep in perspective this new fame, this new validation, this new temptation toward ego, all while being thrust into the center of “something called The motherfucking King.”
If you’re looking for a Friday longread, though, definitely click over — especially if you ARE a Chalamaniac, because brooding in the country. GQ knows what (most of) the people want.