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Film

The film that turned Timothée Chalamet into a man

Looking around the hills of Hollywood and it is easy to see a new crop of talent emerging. Whether it is Zendaya, Millie Bobby Brown, Tom Holland or, indeed, Timothée Chalamet, it’s safe to say that the industry is in good hands. With most of these stars having been born just before or just after the turn of the century, they have been immersed in some of the finest Hollywood blockbusters of all time, each one likely impacting them in different ways.

Like the rest of us cinephiles, different movies can elicit different responses, and what may shock and appeal to one audience member may delight and enthral another. Equally, the films that have a lasting impression on us may not always be the most intelligent or the most credible. Instead, we as an audience connect with the environment of the picture or the ambience of the production and its delivery. However, for Timothée Chalamet, the film that changed his life would not only leave an indelible mark on him as an audience member but perhaps set him up to become the man he is today.

Speaking with Seventeen, Chalamet opened up about one of his first opportunities to go to the cinema and how it changed his personality for good. And what film would he be watching when he left the theatre, “a changed man”? Well, Christopher Nolan’s pioneering superhero epic The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale as Batman and the iconic Heath Ledger in his defining performance as The Joker.

The best comic book film of all time, Nolan conducts a radical revision of all the clichés that come with the genre in The Dark Knight. Even though more than a decade has passed since its release, no other superhero film has come close to fulfilling the standards that Nolan’s masterpiece has set. Nolan cleverly used the extensive legacy of Batman to explore pertinent issues like terrorist threats, government surveillance and the myth of the hero.

“Well, Heath and I talked a lot about the abstractions of the character, of the underlying philosophy of the character and what he represents in the story, and what that tone would need to be,” Nolan commented on the complexities of Heath Ledger’s character. “He has to be human as well as iconic. Heath put a lot of time and energy into figuring out a very complex way of achieving this.” the performance would shape countless actors, including Chalamet.

“When I was 12 years old,” Chalaemt begins like any other young kid might, “after attending one of my sister, Pauline’s performances, I petitioned my mum and grandma to see Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight with me. We went to AMC Empire 25 in Times Square for a 7.30pm screening, and I left that theatre a changed man. I’m serious about that.”

It’s difficult to assess just how much a singular film can affect an actor’s life. After all, at such a formative age, it could be suggested that any film may have had some impact on the career and future pathway of Chalamet. However, it was the performance of Heath Ledger that really connected with the young actor: “Heath Ledger’s performance in that film was visceral and viral to me. I now had the acting bug.”

Released in 2008, it wouldn’t be long before Chalamet received his first acting credit on screen for his small role in Law and Order before joining Jason Reitman’s 2014 picture Men, Women and Children. Chalamet’s career has gone from strength to strength ever since, and his latest outing as the lead in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune proved once again that he is the right man for the role of Hollywood’s latest acting hero.