×

Timothee Chalamet on His Racy Sex Scene in ‘Call Me By Your Name’

“I wouldn’t be the actor I am without New York,” says Timothée Chalamet. The 21-year-old breakout star of three upcoming movies with Oscar buzz (“Call Me by Your Name,” “Lady Bird” and “Hostiles”) grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, graduated from LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, studied at both Columbia and NYU and now resides in the East Village. On his way to work these days, to shoot the (still untitled) Woody Allen movie starring Selena Gomez, he rides the subway instead of taking a chauffeured car.

Doesn’t anybody recognize him? “Not at all,” says Chalamet, who appeared in character parts in Showtime’s “Homeland” and “Interstellar.” But his anonymity is about to end with the release of Sony Pictures Classics’ “Call Me by Your Name,” which opens on Nov. 24. In Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age drama, Chalamet plays Elio, an American teenager in Italy who falls for an older man (Armie Hammer). Critics have been raving about the art-house film, comparing it to “Brokeback Mountain.” And Chalamet could be the youngest man to be nominated for a lead-actor Oscar since Mickey Rooney for 1939’s “Babes in Arms.”

He spoke to Variety about his career so far.

The New York/New Jersey Issue
READ MORE

What was it like seeing “Call Me by Your Name” for the first time at Sundance?  

It was really overwhelming. All the advice I got was to watch it beforehand, so I wouldn’t be in my head while watching it with a group of people. That proved to be true. In the Q&A, some people were responding so positively to Michael Stuhlbarg’s monologue toward the end of the film. It was the first moment where I thought, “Oh wow, people might be affected by this.”

Armie Hammer said he almost turned the role down because of the nudity and the subject matter. Were you worried about that? 

It was never the physical intimacy that was scary, nor was it the type of sexuality that was being professed, but rather, the emotional intensity and the pressure of how well it was described in the book. As a young actor, you don’t come across roles this complex or layered.

Had you read the book? 

When I was 17. It was a window into a young person. I had a similar experience reading “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” except maybe that book isn’t as out there. Nobody has sex with a peach.

That scene is getting a lot of attention. 

I was quite nervous about being able to do that in any way believably. The fact that it has made it in and people are curious about it, I’m happy to talk about it.

The fierce inner debate that rages within me is whether to use the peach emoji or use the Kimoji that’s a little bit more graphic.”
Timothée Chalamet

I noticed you use the peach emoji when posting about the movie on Instagram.

The fierce inner debate that rages within me is whether to use the peach emoji or use the Kimoji that’s a little bit more graphic. But for now, I’ve been holding back.

Have you always wanted to act?

Not particularly. My sister was in ballet growing up. I spent almost the entirety of 7 through 12 backstage at Lincoln Center, just running around, waiting for “The Nutcracker” to end. I feel like I’ve been around performance my whole life. My mom and uncle had done plays.

How did you end up in so many big movies this year?

I did “Prodigal Son” at Manhattan Theatre Club. Scott Rudin had produced that, and he was producing a movie called “Lady Bird” that Greta Gerwig was writing and directing. I read for her and some producers. We set aside the idea of doing it. And then I went to “Call Me by Your Name” in Italy. A month after being there, I taped [an audition] for “Hostiles.” I came back to New York, then I was off to Santa Fe for four weeks of boot camp to understand what it would be like to be a cowboy in the 1800s.

Variety and the New York Film Festival will celebrate Sony Pictures Classics’ “Call Me by Your Name” and our New York/New Jersey issue on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Inside the Spider-Man Split: Finger-Pointing and Executive Endgames

    Spider-Man’s neighborhood has been decidedly unfriendly this week. A private and contentious battle over the onscreen future of the beloved Marvel superhero has spilled out into the public square over the past few days. After making nice for two wildly successful films, Sony Pictures, which holds the licensing rights to the Marvel character, will go [...]

  • Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch

    Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch for 2019

    Variety has announced its 10 Actors to Watch for 2019, an honor the publication has bestowed since 1998. Past honorees include many future Oscar winners and nominees, such as Mahershala Ali, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o and Melissa Leo. This year’s honorees will be feted in the Oct. 27 issue of [...]

  • August Maturo

    Film News Roundup: August Maturo to Star in Horror Movie 'Slapface'

    In today’s film news roundup, August Maturo gets a starring role and “Death of Me” and “Fatale” find homes. CASTING “Girl Meets World” star August Maturo has been cast as the lead character in the upcoming indie horror feature, “Slapface.” Maturo will play a boy who deals with the loss of his mother by creating [...]

  • Taron Egerton, Lucy Boynton to Star

    Taron Egerton, Lucy Boynton to Star in Virtual Reality Project 'Glimpse'

    Taron Egerton and Lucy Boynton will star in “Glimpse,” a new virtual reality experience that will be unveiled at the Venice Film Festival. Written and directed by Benjamin Cleary and VR creator Michael O’Connor, “Glimpse” will be entered in the Venice Virtual Reality Interactive showcase. It’s set in the imaginative mind of a heartbroken panda, [...]

  • Dan Trachtenberg

    Tom Holland's 'Uncharted' Movie Loses Director

    Dan Trachtenberg has exited the director’s chair for Sony’s “Uncharted” movie starring Tom Holland, with the studio taking meetings with top filmmakers and production starting early next year. The studio confirmed Trachtenberg’s departure Thursday. It also said Sony-based PlayStation Productions — headed by Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan — had come on to produce alongside [...]

  • Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel

    Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel to Head Film Department

    Participant Media has named industry veterans Anikah McLaren and Robert Kessel as co-heads of the company’s film department with the titles of executive vice president. Both executives will report together to Participant CEO David Linde, who made the announcement Thursday. McLaren joins Participant having most recently served as a production executive for Fox Searchlight Pictures. [...]

  • 'The Son' Review: Bosnian Family Drama

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'The Son'

    It is a mixed blessing to be born in the aftermath of a war. On the one hand, you never have to experience the terror and suffering your parents did; on the other, you grow up with your own personal crises forever made to feel smaller by comparison. That, at least, is the frustration driving [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content