After these few whirlwind months of publicity tours and seemingly unending critical acclaim, Timothée Chalamet can’t help but wonder if it’s all been a dream.
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The 22-year-old actor stars in one of the biggest films of this awards season, “Call Me by Your Name,” for which he earned an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for best actor.
“It’s nuts. I mean, I’m just trying not to pinch myself,” Chalamet said in an interview for ABC News’ “Popcorn With Peter Travers.” “Actors' careers go up and down and up and down, so there’ll be a nice crash soon -- I’m kidding. I hope not.”
In “Call Me by Your Name,” Chalamet stars as Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old who spends summers in Italy with his parents. Elio’s family also takes in the grad student, Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, to study with Elio’s father for the summer.
Elio and Oliver’s relationship blooms into a romantic one, set in the Italian country side, where Chalamet and Hammer filmed with director Luca Guadagnino.
Chalamet said he found that his personality and Elio’s are not too different.
“What’s nice about doing all this [publicity] stuff for the first time with this film … and doing press stuff around it … is that I don’t feel like I’m making a leap when I’m presenting myself. I’m not in service to the commercial or whatever property it is that I’m playing, but rather this is like who I am. Or at least that’s who I am today,” he said.
When asked what his parents thought of his success and the film, Chalamet says they’ve been nothing but supportive.
“My parents have been proud. I really got -- I got really, really lucky with my parents. You know, working with other actors, or even in my discussions with Armie and the way his parents thought of his acting and the decision to pursue an acting profession -- that’s not been my experience. And I’m really lucky in that regard,” Chalamet said.
Chalamet also stars in another Oscar-nominated film, “Lady Bird,” in which he plays Kyle, who Saoirse Ronan’s character Christine, aka Lady Bird, has a crush on.
“In that movie, I’m supposed to be an object of desire or at least an object of aloofness,” Chalamet said. “It was tough as hell with Saoirse because I don’t feel any of that with her. And certainly our relationship in real life did not play out at all like that.”
Chalamet told a funny story of how he embarrassed himself with the Oscar-nominated actress.
“So she came over one day, and she was like, ‘Oh, you know, we’re all going to get drinks after work today, if you want to come.’ And I said, ‘Oh, well, you know, I don’t have a fake ID,’” Chalamet recalled. “She goes, ‘Oh, you don’t have a fake ID?’ And I said, ‘No, what’s the rush?’ And she goes, ‘What’s the rush?!’”
Chalamet continued, “And she walked away, and I kind of wanted to go, ‘No! Come back!’ Like, ‘Please think I’m cool!’ You know, I totally made myself not cool to her.”
With the quality of actors, like Ronan, that Chalamet has gotten to work with, he says he’s learned to be more subtle of an actor.
“Weirdly, when I’m in a scene with, like, Christian Bale or Steve Carell or Matthew McConaughey or Saoirse, when you watch someone so closely and how good they are, it almost takes the pressure off a little bit,” he said. “I feel like you have to do less in scenes with them, because I’ve seen them in so many things and seen them being interesting when they’re not necessarily doing anything.”
Though he seems poised to have a long career, Chalamet said he knows his time and success could be fleeting.
“Honestly, what I think about is Donald Trump is president, and we might not be around for a year. And that’s like genuinely the thought I have,” Chalamet said. “It seems presumptions or too quick to think like, ‘Oh, I’m set for a period of time here [in my career.]’ I try to take it one day at a time in the idea that it’s a marathon not a sprint.”
He continued, “There’s a great feeling to that, like, ‘OK, great, I’m here.’ Or at least, I’m here for the moment. But I do not want to be one of these ‘a flame out’ or, you know, the road map for young actors or just young performers, period, is not the strongest sometime.”
Chalamet and his team have also taken care to choose roles that may not be in box-office hits, but are challenging.
“It’s also the gift of the project and the mentors I have in my life. I feel like I have the greatest agents in the world, where the idea has been to tell good stories with good filmmakers, not to become well known or make money. It’s not about that,” said Chalamet.
That’s what makes the attention over his work in “Call Me by Your Name” all the more satisfying to the young actor.
“I don’t want to say it’s vindicating or something because what is there to be vindicated about? But, like, I’ve been trying really hard not to do the things that are maybe financially a little bit more accessible or maybe make it on screen,” Chalamet said. “What’s so satisfying about [‘Call Me by Your Name’] is that we worked so hard on it, and, like, the story is so important for right now. It’s an unabashed celebration of love in a time that is so cynical and sinister. Everything is, like, falling apart it seems.”
Watch the full interview with the Oscar-nominated "Call Me by Your Name" star Timothée Chalamet in the video above.