Still only 26 years of age, Timothée Chalamet has established himself as the newest poster boy of Hollywood, an actor with the talent, the looks and the socially aware sensibilities that have warmed him to countless of his adoring fans worldwide. With that, performances in movies such as Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird, Beautiful Boy and, most recently, Denis Villeneuve’s science fiction epic Dune have established his unrivalled prowess. However, it hasn’t always been plain sailing.
The beauty of Chalamet’s role within the movie business is that he has found himself in the impressive position of being both an indie darling and a commercial, blockbuster-selling mainstream giant. Working with directors with the reputation of Villeneuve, Greta Gerwig, Luca Guadagnino and Nic Sheff certainly helps, of course. But in 2017, Chalamet made a rare error of judgement by signing on to Woody Allen’s controversial romantic comedy A Rainy Day in New York.
Flanked by the likes of Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, Elle Fanning and more, Chalamet took the lead in what was destined to be a hallmark Woody Allen creation, drenched in the dreamy lyricism of a witty screenplay while playing into the nostalgia of a city romance of a time gone by. However, soon after signing on the dotted line and entering production, the Me Too Movement would snowball around the despicable crimes committed by convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein. While Weinstein wasn’t involved in A Rainy Day in New York, its director, Woody Allen, would face fresh criticism and renewed allegations of sexual abuse allegation by his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow.
While Allen has repeatedly denied the allegations, Amazon, who were funding A Rainy Day in New York, shelved the project after Dylan renewed her allegations, writing an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times to ask the question: “Why has the Me Too revolution spared Woody Allen?”. With the film canned, Allen would open up a messy lawsuit against Amazon Studios to the tune of $68million, one that would rumble on for a number of years. In the end, the matter was settled out of court, and the film was eventually released on Amazon Prime in 2021, but not everyone was pleased.
By this point, with lawsuits and disturbing allegations of sexual abuse dominating the discussion around A Rainy Day in New York, most of the leading actors involved began to distance themselves from the movie and, more specifically, from Woody Allen. Chalamet himself said, “I have been asked in a few recent interviews about my decision to work on a film with Woody Allen last summer. I’m not able to answer the question directly because of contractual obligations. But what I can say is this: I don’t want to profit from my work on the film, and to that end, I am going to donate my entire salary to three charities: Time’s Up, the LGBT Centre in New York, and Rainn [the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network].”
The actor continued: “I want to be worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the brave artists who are fighting for all the people to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve”.
Chalament, along with Griffin Newman and Selena Gomez, all stayed true to their word, refusing to work with Allen again and donating all of their salary to charities that specialise in helping victims of sexual abuse.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Woody Allen has repeatedly defended the project, writing in his book: “All three leads in Rainy Day were excellent and a pleasure to work with,” Allen said of Chalamet, Elle Fanning and Selena Gomez. “Timothée afterward publicly stated he regretted working with me and was giving the money to charity, but he swore to my sister he needed to do that as he was up for an Oscar for Call Me by Your Name, and he and his agent felt he had a better chance of winning if he denounced me, so he did.”
Allen added: “The fact these actors and actresses never looked into the details of the case (they couldn’t have and come to their conclusion with such certainty) did not stop them from speaking out publicly with dogged conviction. Some said it was now their policy to always believe the woman. I would hope most thinking people reject such simple-mindedness.”
“Anyhow, I didn’t regret working with him,” Allen concluded of Chalamet in the book, “And I’m not giving any of my money back.”