Chalamet was 17 — the same age as his character in “Call Me by Your Name” — when he met with director Luca Guadagnino about playing a bi-cultural, bi-curious teenager on the brink of experiencing an idyllic summer tryst. But it was another three years before they got the greenlight, which gave the young actor time to learn to speak Italian and play the piano well enough to appear natural at each for the part.
During that interval, Chalamet also had the opportunity to play smaller supporting roles opposite Matthew McConaughey (as his son in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”) and Christian Bale (as a French immigrant enlisted in the U.S. Cavalry in “Hostiles”).
“What impresses me most with these guys is endurance. It’s about a certain explicit commitment to every scene, and to every part of the script,” says Chalamet, whose American mother was an actress and dancer. He was inspired to act by his older sister, whom he followed to New York’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. The young actor is especially grateful for McConaughey’s mentorship, the two still keep in touch. “Watching him, I gained some unlearnable experience about how to pace yourself, how not to burn out, how to let go of a scene if you don’t feel you did it justice.”
Chalamet has significant roles in two other 2017 festival breakouts, playing a high school heartbreaker in Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” and the lead in SXSW-launched “Hot Summer Nights,” both upcoming A24 releases. But his biggest challenge has been playing Steve Carell’s meth-addicted son in “Beautiful Boy,” which required the already slight star to slim down even further. “I started out as a skinny guy, but it seemed like a no-brainer to lose a little bit more weight if that’s what the truth of the story was,” he says.
Influences: Joaquin Phoenix, Louis de Funes, Denzel Washington
Representation: Agency: United Talent Agency; Lawyer: Ginsburg Daniels Kallis