How Timothée Chalamet became the world’s leading man

Everybody wish Timothée Chalamet a happy birthday and make sure to give the poster of him on your wall an extra big kiss this week — second part optional — because the Wonka and Dune 2 actor has just turned 28!

The eternally boyish leading man has been described as the “sexiest man alive”, the “best male actor of the decade”, and “Leonardo DiCaprio for the TikTok generation” (by me, just now).

But how did this incredibly good looking young American-French boy, born to creative parents in the federally subsidised artists building of Manhattan Plaza and educated at the same school as Robert De Niro, Jennifer Anniston and Al Pacino make it big — other than the obvious? To celebrate Timothée Hal Chalamet’s 28th year of life, here’s a look back on his trip to stardom in 28 steps.

Anyone familiar with the film A Star Is Born will know that in order to become a star, you first need to be born. Timothée Chalamet was born on 27 December, 1995, in New York City to a former Broadway dancer and real estate agent mother and editor father. When Chalamet took his first breath of air, it is said that all of Hollywood’s leading men simultaneously shivered. 

You can’t talk about Timothée Chalamet without acknowledging his alter ego, Timmy Tim, who he embodied to do high school rap performances about statistics and such. The fact these videos still exist online is the one true benefit of the internet.

3. He wowed his drama school teachers

Despite initially being denied entrance to the music and performing arts school LaGuardia due to his sub-par middle school record (naughty Timmy), Chalamet was eventually let in due to his extremely impressive audition tape. “I gave him the highest score I’ve ever given a kid auditioning,” one of his teachers later recalled.

4. He dated Madonna’s daughter

(Yui Mok/PA)

PA Wire

Destined to be a name, Chalamet dated Madonna’s daughter Lourdes ‘Lola’ Leon for a year before he was even famous. Really puts the Kylie Jenner relationship into perspective, doesn’t it?

5. He hopped onto the cast of Homeland

Chalamet played the rebellious son of Vice President William Walden. Unfortunately, due to his being 16 and the average age of Homeland viewers being around 40, he didn’t quite hit his target audience with this role. But then…

6. He starred in Interstellar

(Doug Peters/PA)

PA Wire

The stratospheric theme continues. Our shooting star Timothée Chalamet made his mini-breakthrough as the son of Matthew McConaughey’s character in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Interstellar, kicking off a steady incline to fame.

7. He was compared to James Dean in The New York Times

Slow down, Timmy, your smoke too tough, your swag too different: Chalamet earned this major accolade at the tender age of 19 for playing a “combustible and manically energetic” teen, who comes close to seducing his teacher in the 2016 film Miss Stevens. It signalled his strength as a future leading man to the world. Nay, better, to the readers of The New York Times.

8. He had the biggest 2017 anyone’s ever had

Timothée Chalamet as Elio Perlman in Call Me By Your Name


Do you remember what happened to you in 2017? Probably not. But you definitely remember what happened to Timothée Chalamet: the success of Ladybird and Call Me By Your Name led to his being heralded the biggest breakthrough actor in recent history.

9. He was nominated for an Oscar

Chalamet’s lead role of Elio Perlman, the precocious, gay teenager in Call Me By Your Name, earned him huge critical acclaim, including an Oscar nomination, making him the youngest Best Actor nominee since Mickey Rooney in 1940. He didn’t get that Oscar, but he did secure a Gotham and Independent Spirit Award for the role. 

10. He taught every actor in the world how to do a press circuit

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Forget the hot wings, do away with chicken shop dates — turns out all you need for a successful press circuit is Timothée Chalamet and a hefty dose of sexual tension (the only other actor capable of this level of carrying-on is Zendaya). This was the reality of the Call Me By Your Name press tour, where Chalamet and (now-disgraced) Armie Hammer really pushed the limits of the straight male co-star friendship. Google it.

11. He finally played the role he was made to play

In Beautiful Boy, Chalamet plays the role of Beautiful Boy — what an easy casting decision, I could have told you that in my sleep. But as it turns out, said Beautiful Boy was also supposed to portray the life of struggling drug addict, Nic Sheff, and Chalamet was pretty damn good at it. He was nominated for a BAFTA, a Critics Choice Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance, among others.

12. He brought back the bowl cut


Who among us can say, with complete conviction, that they are hot enough to bring back the ugliest haircut of all time? None, I imagine. Well, Timothée did just that when he starred in The King alonside Lily-Rose Depp. Screenshots of said bowl cut routinely make a resurgence online, to collective shock and awe.

13. He was photographed furiously making out with Lily-Rose Depp

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The French-American prophecy has been fulfilled: in his first public relationship since the fame explosion, Chalamet is papped sloppily French kissing the actress and daughter of Johnny Depp, Lily-Rose Depp, on a boat. Internet dwellers observe that it looks like both of the parties’ first ever kiss. Burn.

14. He reunited with Greta Gerwig for Little Women

Louis Garrel, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh and Timothee Chalamet attend the Little Women premiere

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Timothée Chalamet is one of those people who can have a meaningful connection with anyone — but perhaps the purest of all is his bond with Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan, whom he first worked with on Ladybird. Their success as a trio was reignited in 2019, when Chalamet starred as Theodore ‘Laurie’ Lawrence in Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women, alongside Ronan’s Jo March. If there were any undersides of rocks hitherto untouched by Chalamet’s charm, this role got into them. 

15. He hosted Saturday Night Live

Chalamet has hosted SNL not once but twice, making his debut in 2020 when he hosted alongside musical guest Bruce Springsteen.

16. He was named GQ’s Best Dressed Man of the Year

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In 2020, Chalamet topped GQ’s list for best-dressed men, after he had made waves with numerous fashionable red carpet appearances. He’s a red carpet reliable who doesn’t rely on the boring embrace of a black tux, and we love him for it. 

17. He had a role written for him by Wes Anderson

In 2021, Chalamet was on everyone’s mind — including Wes Anderson’s. The acclaimed indie-kitsch director wrote the role of student revolutionary Zeffirelli with Chalamet in mind, and the film went on to garner positive reviews, though Chalamet’s bad haircuit likely led to it’s relative downfall compared to Anderson’s bigger hits. Just let him be hot!

18. He was co-chair of the Met Gala

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A prestigious position appointed by Anna Wintour herself, Chalamet co-chaired the 2021 Met Gala, which carried the theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” That same year, he was made a Cartier ambassador and co-designed a hoodie with designer Haider Ackermann. Chalamet had ascended to fashion girlie status. 

19. He became the leading man for Dune

Award winning indies, check, family box office hits, check, leading man of a cult franchise? Chalamet ticked this box in late 2021, when he appeared as the boy king Paul Atreides in the first installment of fantasy franchise Dune. 

20. Then he had a rat tail


If we learned anything from the bowl cut, we know to be worried when Chalamet exhibits another awful lid — it may just catch on. Luckily, the rat tail and general grubbiness of his drifter character in Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, did not. However, the ensemble cast was nominated for a SAG award, which is a bonus. 

21. And then he had a mullet!


When every door (rat tail) closes, a window (mullet) opens. Chalamet successfully portrayed the sexiest mulleted cannibal, since, well, ever, in his 2022 alternative romance Bones and All, opposite rising star Taylor Russell. Mullets were big before then, but perhaps their unwillingness to die is partially due to his impact. His performance in Bones and All also led IndieWire to commend his “near-peerless ability to gently weep”, which is quite the compliment if you think about it. The Oscar for weepiest boy goes to Timmy.

Chalamet found himself bored of the breezy freedom of three dimensional films in 2022, turning later in the year to an animated project spearheaded by his close friend Kid Cudi. In cartoon romcom Entergalactic, Chalamet plays committed stoner and dreamy layabout Jimmy with worrying accuracy. Also on the billing: Cudi himself, Jaden Smith, Macaulay Culkin and rapper 070 Shake, who is currently dating none other than… Lily-Rose Depp. What a tangled web these stars weave.

23. He’s the first male British Vogue cover star

When Edward Enninful announced Timothée would be gracing the cover of British Vogue in September 2022, he broke a record as the first man to ever appear alone on the cover of British Vogue.

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After Dune, Chalamet looked all set for world domination. And what role more prestigious and coveted than that of a mad genius chocolatier, once played by Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp. I’m not calling Willy Wonka the onscreen equivalent of Hamlet, but maybe he is the onscreen equivalent of Hamlet. Wonka hit cinemas on 8 December 2023, and so far the response has been pretty overwhelmingly positive. Apart from by its own cast member Hugh Grant, who hated playing an Oompa Loompa very much. Luckily, Chalamet seems to find this funny. He’s a good natured guy.

25. He somehow managed to keep a Kardashian-adjacent relationship relatively low key

When Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet were first romantically linked in 2023, people likened the relationship to something straight out of a TMZ headline generator. Turned out it was surprisingly sturdy, and the pair are still going strong as we head into 2024. And even more surprisingly, Chalamet has used his international man of mystery abilities to keep it on the DL, as much as is humanly possible for two of the most famous people on the planet. Kudos to Ky and Timmy. 

26. He’s not the step dad, he’s the dad that stepped up

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Moreover, Chalamet is reportedly fond of Kylie’s kids and admires her role as a mom (is this just a really intense character study? Will he be announced as the next Mrs Doubtfire, in cinemas 2025?). This has only bolstered his reputation as a “pretty good guy”. 

27. He is returning to Dune

The strikes may have thrown Dune 2’s fate into question for a bit, but it is officially coming back in March 2024. Chalamet will have a second shot at playing Paul Atreides, and the movie will have a second shot at a captive audience: its springtime release date means people are far less likely to fall asleep in front of it after Christmas dinner. Huzzah!

28. He became the face of a Chanel fragrance

After the death of French actor Gaspard Ulliel in 2022, Chanel was seeking a new face for its Bleu De Chanel perfume. Who better than little Timmy T, a French-American heartthrob with one of the most recognisable faces out there? The campaign was shot by legendary photographer Mario Sorrenti, with an accompanying film by Martin Scorsese.