Timothée Chalamet is the last Hollywood Heartthrob left

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Long before I became a professional writer and was forced into adulthood, I spent far too much of my adolescence on the chaotic corner of the Internet known to many as Stan Twitter. For most of that time, my Twitter was a stan account dedicated to expressing my immense love for Timothée Chalamet, a name that has become so instantly recognizable it needs no introduction. It started on a random day in 2017, when a paparazzi photo of the actor landed on my timeline; it was love at first sight. The rest is history.

That’s the power of a true heartthrob: the ability to stop a person in their tracks and capture their undivided attention (and heart). Chalamet comes across as someone who is both effortlessly cool and sexy (bonus points for being French-speaking!), but also approachable. That is the key to its breathtaking appeal.

Over the past year, I’ve had countless discussions with friends about the apparent death (or at least alarming decline) of the dashing Hollywood heartthrob. Every time we try to think of actors that fit the bill – Jacob Elordi? Miles Teller? Tom Holland? – the only name we could agree on was the one actor who makes hearts beat 365 days a year: Timothée Chalamet.

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While he had been acting for many years, with small but memorable roles in Native country and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar2017 was a groundbreaking year for Chalamet. When he was only 21 years old, he starred in the one-two punch of Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Birdin which he plays an aloof, bass-playing high school student, and Call me by your name– both of which were nominated for Best Picture.

Luca Guadagnino’s sun-soaked coming-of-age romance Call me by you Name remains the greatest showcase of Chalamet’s emotional flexibility and subtle, yet commanding physicality. As Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old American vacationing in Italy who falls in love with a graduate student played by Armie Hammer, Chalamet conveys an intense desire that seeps throughout the film. He earned an Academy Award nomination, making him the youngest actor to be nominated for Best Actor since 1939. Since then, he’s been booked and engaged in a series of A-list projects, while never compromising the rare (at least in our day and age) qualities that have defined his stardom.

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While Florence Pugh and Saoirse Ronan were rightfully praised for their performances in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of Little women, Chalamet is the film’s secret weapon. Like Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, his softboy energy, captured perfectly in the iconic proposal scene between Laurie and Ronan’s independent Jo March, has never been put to better use than here.

This month, Chalamet will be sandwiching Dune and next year’s highly anticipated double bill Dune: Part 2 and Wonka with a very welcome return to his indie roots: the new movie Bones and all. He reunites with Guadagnino, wears a red-painted mullet and plays a cannibal in a gory tale of young outsiders, alongside rising star Taylor Russell. He delivers a performance on par with his most well-known turns (he hasn’t given a bad performance yet), with critics praising his magnetic presence and dazzling chemistry with Russell.

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Of course, the heartthrob is by no means a millennial invention. In recent decades, the likes of River Phoenix, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Heath Ledger, and the ultimate dreamboat Leonardo DiCaprio have become subjects of intense worship. At their peak, they were actors who embraced their soft sides and were unafraid to portray characters who expressed their rawest emotions and vulnerabilities. While they may have initially gotten attention for their attractiveness, they were also lovable for their charming, down-to-earth personalities and self-awareness.

The traditional idea of ​​a heartthrob has waned as social media has dominated our perception of almost every aspect of life and culture. Thus, the heartthrob has been replaced by the “Internet friend,” which is typically an actor (like Austin Butler and Noah Centineo) who is popular for a period of time, fixed in stages by extremely online people. They are rarely a long-term obsession. Chalamet is indeed an internet buddy at heart, but he has a longevity that his peer doesn’t have.

Photo illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Ever since he rose to international fame, Chalamet has been compared to DiCaprio, who set the gold standard for Hollywood’s leading men who followed in his footsteps. In a way, Chalamet’s career choices mirror DiCaprio’s when he was younger. The 48-year-old has avoided large-scale franchises and tended to embrace roles that emphasized his talent and good looks. Titanic and Romeo & Juliet transformed DiCaprio into a dreamy megastar you couldn’t help but fall in love with, just like Call me by your name and Little women did with Chalamet.

With his boyish charm, luscious locks, sculpted jawline and jittery energy, Chalamet fits seamlessly into a heartthrob mold, but he has carved out his own niche by challenging the concept of traditional masculinity.

Unlike the majority of his peers, Chalamet has taken a different path to stardom, adhering to a filmmaker-driven approach when it comes to selecting his roles, regardless of their size. In less than a decade, he’s worked with everyone from Christopher Nolan to Greta Gerwig and Denis Villeneuve, and he blends seamlessly into the vibrant worlds created by Wes Anderson (as shown in The French shipping). If we lived in an alternate universe, the actor would have been cast as our beloved Spider-Man, a role he lost to Tom Holland. But he’s since stuck with DiCaprio’s controversial but wise advice to avoid superhero projects altogether, and it works in the best way possible.

Until a few years ago, box office numbers were a key factor in celebrity status. Actors like DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Pitt and Depp were able to fill seats in a movie theater based solely on the strength of their household names, and this in turn helped build their star characters. Recently, the concept of a movie star seems to be in crisis. Except for Tom Cruise, who was wearing Top gun: Maverick to the top of the box office earlier this year, the idea of ​​a box-office megastar no longer seems to exist. Sure, there are names like Channing Tatum, Ryan Reynolds, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But even of these three, Tatum is the only person who has shown he can carry studio-backed movies that aren’t formally connected to superhero universes.

Chalamet is in a gray area in Hollywood. It is true that thousands of people will flock to the cinemas to see his beautiful face on the big screen, but he has not yet proven that his popularity among wild young women on the internet can translate into ticket sales.

Photo illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Warner Bros.

Last year by Denis Villeneuve Dune served as the perfect introduction to the world of blockbusters for Chalamet, giving us a taste of how well he can carry a large-scale mainstream film. Chalamet appears in nearly every scene of the sprawling 2.5 hour film and he makes his presence felt. Released in the middle of the pandemic after a series of delays, Dune was a box office hit, earning over $400 million worldwide.

It would be impossible to talk about Chalamet’s appeal without mentioning his bold sense of style that sets him apart from the majority of his fellow A-listers. From what appeared to be a shimmering Louis Vuitton suit of armor at the 2019 Golden Globes to a red backless jumpsuit at this year’s Venice Film Festival, he consistently makes bold fashion choices. More importantly, he never manages to pull them off. It feels like he has a connection with the clothes he wears rather than dressing a certain way to spark conversation.

Photo illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

He clearly has an adoration for the people who helped him get to where he is today, giddily greeting and taking selfies with fans at movie premieres and graciously stopping to take pictures with those lucky enough to meet him along the way. Earlier this month at the Milan premiere of Bones and all, the red carpet was unexpectedly closed due to the large number of fans eagerly waiting for him. Not many actors have that power these days.

Despite his immense fame, Chalamet is still the type who clearly makes every role his own. Unlike actors like Pitt and Depp, who are so well known that their fame is indistinguishable from their screen presence, Chalamet disappears into each of his characters.

As the idea of ​​a leading man continues to evolve, Chalamet remains at the forefront of the massive cultural shift. At a time when male celebrities who gain a bit of popularity are immediately labeled “internet boyfriends,” regardless of whether they’re talented or charismatic, Chalamet triumphs as a swoon-worthy celebrity who perfectly embodies the heartthrob spirit.

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