How Timothée Chalamet Became a Symbol of the Gender Revolution, and Created a New Kind of Hero That Doesn’t Rely on Masculinity

Recently, filmgoers of all ages can’t take their eyes off the slender young man with the expressive eyes and auburn curls. The 26-year-old Timothée Chalamet has, in the space of just a few years, become a Hollywood phenomenon, the most influential man in fashion, and a symbol of the new, free generation. Furthermore, he has shown everyone that male beauty can be based on gender ambivalence.

Here at CHEERY, we’ve decided to find out what makes Timothée so special and why so many people around the world keep declaring their love for him. And at the end, you’ll find a bonus which proves that even the Hollywood masters can’t resist the young star’s charm.

He started his career starring in auteur films, and hasn’t taken on any “incidental” roles

Facebook / East News

Timothée began his acting career at an early age. He became known to a wide audience after a small role in the TV series Homeland, he also appeared in Interstellar. But his real success came in 2017, with Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name, a love story between the teenager Elio and the charming graduate student Oliver.

The film grossed a modest £30 million worldwide at the time, but many critics and audiences were blown away by young Timothée’s performance — so accurate was his portrayal of an awkward, and confused, teenager going through the difficulties of falling in love for the first time. Chalamet’s character was vulnerable and touching, easily relating the audience to their own youth. It’s not surprising that after this role, the 22-year-old received a nomination for an Oscar, making him the youngest nominee for Best Actor, after Mickey Rooney, who received his nomination in 1940, when he was 19.

Anthony Behar / Sipa USA / East News

This, of course, made Timothée a hit in Hollywood. His success was cemented by other such strong releases that same year — Lady Bird, Hot Summer Nights and Hostiles.

Most young stars, after such success, would have been happy to promote their name by starring indiscriminately in a large number of films to appeal to a mass audience. But not Timothée Chalamet, who has always been, and continues to be, picky in his choice of projects, going only for the best scripts and top directors.

For example, in 2019, he starred in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Then he played the role of Henry V in The King. And in 2021, Chalamet appeared in as many as three major films: Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. Needless to say, all these projects received high praise from the critics.

He isn’t afraid of talking about his feelings, or being vulnerable

Shooting Star / Sipa USA / East News

Timothée sees nothing wrong with publicly admitting his failures. For example, in one of the interviews, the actor spoke frankly about how after watching the final version of Interstellar he cried for about an hour — so tiny his role seemed to him.

Despite his popularity, Timothée is inherently modest. During his many interviews, he still gets embarrassed, and it’s not just part of an elaborate image, it’s clear that he feels responsible for every word he says.

Chalamet is also a loving son. He never fails to remind the fans how much he loves his parents. The actor likes to appear on the red carpet with his mother, Nicole Flender, a former Broadway dancer.

Yes, Timothée, with his androgynous, airy beauty is not afraid to show his emotions. In one of his big interviews, he admitted that, on screen, he is “chasing a feeling”. On the set of Dune, Chalamet had a special intimacy with his older and more experienced colleagues.

For example, director Denis Villeneuve described how Timothée would always talk to him and his wife about any problems he may be having, or fears, asking for advice on how to deal with certain pressures. In doing so, the young actor was very open and honest and wasn’t afraid to look vulnerable. The director also added that he was impressed by “that beautiful, strong candour”.

He created a new kind of hero, that doesn’t rely on violence

Timothée has become a modern Hollywood hero, who rejects the outdated stereotypes about men’s inadvertent brutality. He introduced the world to a new kind of masculinity, devoid of toxicity and old-fashioned attitudes. It’s largely thanks to him that today, emotional vulnerability is gradually replacing brutal machismo.

Many of his colleagues have spent years building an image of themselves as a “real man” with pumped-up muscles. But Chalamet doesn’t need big biceps to attract the public’s attention, he does it with his intelligence, delicacy and a complex psyche.

Director Denis Villeneuve was quite specific when talking about Timothée’s appearance: “He has a deep, deep intelligence in the eyes. Something you cannot fake. The kid is brilliant. Very intellectual, very strong. And you see that in the eyes. He also has a very old soul. You feel that he has already lived through several lives. And at the same time, he looks so young on camera. [...] There’s something of a romantic beauty to him”.

Perhaps over the years, viewers have simply grown tired of the blunt brutality and now, on screen, they want to see men who are honest, open and able to cry. And Timothée is just that.

He can be masculine, and feminine at once

Cyril Pecquenard / KCS / East News

Of course, the secret to Timothée’s success and popularity lies not only in his undeniable acting talent, but in his unusual looks also.

When talking about him, Timothée’s colleague, Saoirse Ronan, once said: “There just aren’t many other young male actors out there like him, who are able to hold an audience in the way that he does. His look is so magnetic and beautiful. One of the things that we spoke about a lot when we were doing Little Women, [...] is that we both have this masculinity and femininity equally. And I think that that’s one of his strengths, is that he can be incredibly sort of feminine and sensitive and sensual, and also he’s a guy that, you know, girls fancy. So he covers so much ground in terms of popularity.”

Talking about masculinity in today’s world, Chalamet himself was very specific: “You can be whatever you want to be. There isn’t [anything] specific that you have to take part in to be masculine. It’s exciting. [...] Maybe it’s because of social media, [...] but there’s a real excitement from our generation about doing things in a new way”.

He is far from gender stereotypes when it comes to fashion, not hesitating to wear women’s clothes

Invision / Invision / East News

The theme of gender ambivalence is also evident in the young star’s fashion sense — Timothée has had no trouble sporting floral prints, rhinestones, an abundance of jewellery and the colour pink. It’s no exaggeration to say that in doing so, he has started his own mini-revolution of what a man can look like in the modern world.

He honestly admits to loving fashion and not using a stylist: “I hear about celebrities who have stylists, and that blows my mind. It’s certainly not why I act, but I can wear cool clothes from some of the nicest designers in the world. So, why am I going to pay someone to figure out what I should be wearing? That’s the fun part”.

Invision / Invision / East News, Invision / Invision / East News

Many of his red-carpet appearances are the subject of discussion. For example, many will remember Timothée’s appearance at the Met Gala when he wore a cropped satin dinner jacket with sequins, complete with baggy sports trousers tucked into white socks and Converse trainers. Fans will also remember the Swarovski crystal-embellished hoody by Louis Vuitton, which the actor wore to the premiere of The King.

Invision / Invision / East News

However, Chalamet is not about to stop experimenting — this year at the Oscars, he wore a jacket from Nicolas Ghesquière’s womenswear collection.

Jonas Gustavsson / Sipa USA / East News, ANGELA WEISS / AFP / East News

He also completed the look with lacquered booties, rings, and layered white gold necklaces from Cartier.

He is capable of powerful acts

In his interviews, the actor often raises important social topics. For instance, when asked about the film Call Me by Your Name, Chalamet said that it was important for him that “people came out because of that film”. In another interview, he shared how lucky he feels to have an older sister who always told him what it’s like to be a girl in our times.

Timothée not only supports feminism and pays tribute to the movement for equality, he demonstrates how men can help women in this cause. So, after serious charges were filed against the director Woody Allen, Chalamet turned down royalties for his role in Allen’s film A Rainy Day in New York, donating them to several charities: Timeʼs Up, the LGBT Centre of New York and RAINN.

Also, Timothée recently tried his hand at fashion design. Together with designer Haider Ackermann, he created a blue print hoodie collection. All proceeds from the sales, as the actor promises, will go to a charity foundation which fights for the rights of women and children.

Considering this, it’s not at all surprising that the young actor has won the hearts of Hollywood’s top activists — Meryl Streep, Laura Dern and Glenn Close. The latter, for example, enjoyed taking selfies with him during the BAFTA ceremony, while Meryl Streep, at the 2018 Oscar nominee breakfast, was apparently “introducing Chalamet to people like she was his mom”.

Of course, Timothée also adores his fans, so at the 2019 premiere of The King, he brought a bag of bagels for the fans who had been waiting for him on the red carpet for hours. Isn’t that charming?

Bonus story: screenwriter of the film Call Me by Your Name wore a shirt with Timothée’s portrait on it, as a thank you sign

In 2018, Call Me by Your Name screenwriter, James Ivory, appeared at the 2018 Academy Awards wearing a shirt with a portrait of the actor. The image was a still from the film. The 89-year-old screenwriter wore the shirt as a thank you to Chalamet for helping him receive the BAFTA Best Screenplay Award.

What do you think of Timothée Chalamet? Do you have a favourite film of his?

Preview photo credit Call Me by Your Name / Frenesy Film Company and co-producers, ANGELA WEISS / AFP / East News
Cheery/Facts/How Timothée Chalamet Became a Symbol of the Gender Revolution, and Created a New Kind of Hero That Doesn’t Rely on Masculinity
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