Inside Film

The new DiCaprio? How Timothée Chalamet became the biggest star on the planet

He’s being courted by Scorsese, is a crooning Willy Wonka and is (allegedly) dating Kylie Jenner. It’s official: the ‘Call Me by Your Name’ and ‘Dune’ star has fully taken over pop culture, writes Geoffrey Macnab. But how did this 27-year-old supernova come to dominate both the arthouse and the multiplex?

Friday 17 November 2023 07:44
<p>In (Gene) Wilder days: Timothée Chalamet in Paul King’s ‘Wonka’ </p>

In (Gene) Wilder days: Timothée Chalamet in Paul King’s ‘Wonka’

How did the adolescent squirt humiliated by Ansel Elgort in his first film turn into the most feted young screen actor of his generation? Timothée Chalamet was just 16 when he worked on Men, Women & Children (2014), Jason Reitman’s movie about American families so obsessed with their online lives that they’ve forgotten how to communicate properly. This was Chalamet’s first foray onto the big screen. Many of his scenes ended on the cutting room floor. Elgort was clearly the name the producers were banking on to appeal to the teen audience.

Yet despite that inauspicious beginning, Chalamet today is among the most highly sought-after stars in Hollywood. Last weekend, the 27-year-old hosted the US sketch comedy institution Saturday Night Live for the second time. He was recently on the cover of GQ magazine for the third time in six years. His new movie, the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory origin story Wonka, directed by Paddington’s Paul King, is tracking to be a major box office hit over Christmas. Dune: Part Two, out in March, is expected to be a huge money spinner as well. He’ll even be seen shortly as folk troubadour Bob Dylan in a new biopic.

Everyone seems to love him, from his teen fans – Chalamaniacs, as they call themselves – to the broadsheet critics who’ve rhapsodised over his performances in offbeat films like Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name (2017) and the romantic cannibal road movie Bones and All (2022). It’s all left him in an unlikely position: an arthouse darling, and an emerging action star (according to GQ, his stunt trainers for Dune: Part Two previously worked with Tom Cruise).

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