Timothee Chalamet has taken the world by storm and shows no sign of slowing down. He was named The Leader of the Next Generation by Time magazine and was labeled a sex symbol by Gen Z. However, Timothee’s coveted status poses questions for older generations, as he’s nothing like the leading men that Millennials are used to.
While Millennials grew up with sex symbols like Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, Gen Z prefers men like Harry Styles and Timothee Chalamet. Clearly, there’s been some sort of a cultural shift in what’s considered to be the “ideal man.” So what is it about Timothee that has mesmerized a generation, and what does it say about our society?
Timothee Is a Momma’s Boy and Proud of It
Timothee is a third-generation American of Russian and Austrian descent. He’s a dual citizen of France and the United States and travels between the two countries. Timothee is Jewish, and like all Jewish men, he’s a proper momma’s boy. A 26-year-old Timothee was photographed proudly holding his mother’s hand at the Oscars.
While Millennials have a hard time imagining one of our heartthrobs holding their mom’s hand at a professional event, Gen Z found the display of affection to be swoon-worthy. It seems that our culture is starting to understand that the way a man treats his partner begins at home. A guy who will show his mother love and respect, even in public, will likely express his emotions to his partner as well.
He Quietly Dated Hollywood Royalty
Millennials are used to men using their partners as trophies to parade around. Comments like “I dated so-and-so” or “my girlfriend looks like a Victoria’s Secret model” are common amongst our generation. However, Gen Z’s main man has dated Hollywood royalty and kept eerily quiet about it.
Timothee had a year-long relationship with Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes Leon, when they were in high school. Timothee has never bragged about his A-list romance despite the fact that they were together before he became a star himself. It’s almost as if it were a significant relationship and not just a conquest to earn bragging rights. We hope other generations are taking notes.
He Got His First Hollywood Role at Just 13-Years-Old
Timothee got his first official Hollywood role at just 13-years-old. He guest-starred in an episode of Law & Order, a show which has given many actors their start in the industry. Two years later, Timothee played his first non-heterosexual character in an off-Broadway play. Little did he know, his ability to play all sorts of sexualities would soon become his trademark.
Timothee’s breakthrough role came with the movie Call Me By Your Name, in which he played a boy who realizes he is homosexual. Timothee’s performance got rave reviews and even earned him an Oscar nomination. Since then, he has gotten roles with various sexualities, proving his comfort with any type of on-screen romance.
Timothee Has Not Been Quick to Disclose His Sexuality
Timothee has shown disinterest in giving in to Hollywood’s obsession with labeling everyone’s sexuality. He has never explicitly stated his personal preferences, although he has been romantically linked exclusively to women. That being said, Timothee seems unconcerned with the public’s view of him and continues to confuse. In fact, it almost seems as if sexual ambiguity is intentionally part of his brand.
The fact that Gen Z is so enamored with a celebrity who is sexually ambiguous shows a stark contrast to the hyper-masculine sex symbols of Millennials. For comparison, many Millennial heartthrobs rejected the lead roles in Brokeback Mountain because they didn’t want to perform homosexual scenes. It seems as though the next generation wants men who are comfortable in their sexuality, or at least open-minded enough to explore it.
As Fashion Changes, so Does Our Taste in Men
As fashion becomes consistently more androgynous, so does our taste in men. It’s hard to imagine Millennial sex symbols like Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio wearing the types of clothes Timothee wears, and maybe that’s the appeal? Younger generations’ hotties, like Harry Styles and Timothee Chalamet, reject gender-specific clothing and simply wear what they want.
In 2019, Vogue named Timothee as fashion’s most influential man, saying that he tends “to ply the boundary between traditional masculinity and femininity.” GQ called him the best-dressed man in the world, in 2020. It’s important to note that Timothee does not have a stylist as he enjoys fashion, saying “I’m such a fanboy… fashion has been really fun, just as a fan.”
No One Predicted Androgynous Timothee Becoming a Sex Symbol
One of Timothee’s first roles was in Hot Summer Nights, where he played a guy who somehow gets the popular girl who would, seemingly, never go for a guy like him. The director of the movie, Elijah Bynum, laughs at the casting choice, given the fact that Timothee has now become a heartthrob.
Elijah explains, “What I don’t think anyone expected was he was going to become this kind of international sex symbol that came out of nowhere.” “When we cast him, we tried to cast this sweet, unassuming boy next door, the underdog. Him landing the girl in the movie Hot Summer Nights was really something of a stretch. He ended up with someone way out of his league, and now, of course, in real life, no one would think of it that way.”
Timing Worked in Timothee’s Favor
Perfect timing played a huge role in Timothee’s success. He became prevalent in Hollywood at the same time that the MeToo and Time’sUp movements were taking over the world. Toxic masculinity was out, and a new kind of man began to occupy our fantasies.
With the rise of feminism and heightened awareness of misogyny, society began to re-think what we find attractive. It became clear that equating hyper-masculinity with sexiness resulted in toxic masculinity. Enter: Timothee Chalamet. His sensitivity, openness, and willingness to get in touch with his feminine side coincided perfectly with society’s need for a different kind of leading man, creating the perfect timing for him to become the personification of our changing ideals.
It All Started at Home
Timothee’s mother was a Broadway star and his father is an editor for UNICEF. One could argue that his parents’ career choices were the basis for both Timothee’s professional and personal characteristics. His sister, Pauline, is also an actress, so clearly, artistic expression was always accepted in the Chalamet household.
Timothee’s personal philosophies mirror how he was raised, and how our society would like to see changes in the way we express ourselves. He said, “It’s almost a high to be vulnerable… It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or hyper-emotional, it just means you’re human… Humans are complex; we need to feel a lot of things. We are not homogeneous.” This beautiful sentiment is certainly a far cry from the “Men don’t cry!” philosophies Millennials were raised with.
He Worked With the Very Star He’s So Often Compared To
Timothee recently worked with Leonardo DiCaprio, the very star he’s so often compared to, on the movie Don’t Look Up. The two actors have many similarities, both in their careers and the way the public perceives them. Yet, they are truly nothing alike in appearance nor demeanor, making the fact that they’re their generations’ sex symbols all that more interesting.
Surprisingly, the two heartthrobs have not spoken about each other much in interviews, nor have they spent a lot of time together at awards shows. So far, neither actor has commented on the comparisons being made between the two. Despite the fact that they have worked together, the two men seem to be as uninterested in each other as their respective generations are.
When Two Generations’ Heartthrobs Unite
Timothee met another Millennial sex symbol: Brad Pitt. The two hung out at a screening of The King, which stars Timothee and boasts Brad as a producer. Even Timothee isn’t above getting starstruck, he said he was “nervous every day” on the set of The King, as he wanted to impress Hollywood royalty, Brad Pitt.
Seeing the two men side-by-side only highlights their stark physical differences. Brad is undeniably a “man’s man” while Timothee has softer, more androgynous features. Brad has a larger frame, as bulging muscles were all the rage in the 90s and early 2000s. Meanwhile, Timothee has a more slender (albeit still fit) figure, which is reflective of society’s less extreme expectations of the male physique.
Like Many Gen Z’ers, Timothee Doesn’t Have a College Degree
In a move that Gen Z hails but makes older generations cringe, Timothee left college after just one year of studies. The actor was majoring in cultural anthropology when he decided to quit in order to focus on his acting career. It seems that college becomes less desirable with each generation, as student loans become a lifelong trap and employers shift their focus to hiring those with experience rather than education.
Timothee explained his decision by saying, “I was in college for a little bit and it felt like a clear decision to not finish; it was scary because I didn’t want to rob myself of growing as a human. It’s been the exact opposite: going from set to set, working with creative, open, people, having mentors rooting for you. There’s education within that, I guess.”
Timothee Is Dating a Fellow Heartthrob’s Daughter
Timothee is currently in a relationship with the daughter of a fellow sex symbol, Johnny Depp. Lily-Rose Depp met Timothee on the set of The King and the two quickly became an item. They broke up after two years together but recent photos of them have fans speculating that they’ve reunited.
The couple has been called “the new Brangelina,” proving yet again that Timothee is constantly being compared to Millennial heartthrobs. The comparison seems to be an apt one. Both sides of each couple are sex symbols in their own right, and together they create a Hollywood power couple. Hopefully, things will work out better for Timothee and Lily-Rose than they did for Brad and Angelina.
He Knows the Importance of Failure
While Millennials were taught the toxic lesson that failure is inherently bad, they seem to have done an excellent job at conveying to younger generations that there’s a lot to be learned in failure. As a leader of Gen Z, Timothee understands the importance of failing and what can be gained from it.
When asked about his decision to pursue acting, Timothee said: “I had this feeling I couldn’t not act and yet to get there, I really needed teachers, and one teacher, in particular, to make me comfortable with failing. To be bad and get over it – that opened the floodgates.” This is a pretty far cry from the sex symbols of the past, who always had to be flawless and unattainable.
Timothee Has Proven That He’s Not a Conformist
Timothee has proven over and over again that he’s certainly no conformist. From his fashion choices to the roles he plays, to his overall demeanor, he has the air of someone who knows who he is and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. The advice that he gives to his fans echoes that sentiment.
Timothee says, “Trust the beat of your own drum.” He followed his own advice, as he often told himself: “Give this its best shot. Give your artistry its best shot.” He also explained how to know when you’re going in the right direction: “When you think you’re doing some great thing, it’s probably something you’ve done before, and when you really… have no clue, that’s when you’re doing something on the edge, good or bad.”
Let’s Not Forget, He’s Still Super Young
Although Timothee has an old soul and an alarming level of maturity in his acting, he is still only 26-years-old, which is probably part of why Millennials struggle to see him the way Gen Z does, sexually speaking. Timothee is still new and shiny in Hollywood, and although he’s proving himself quickly, he hasn’t cemented his standing on the A-list just yet.
Timothee gave fans a rare peek into his private life by posting a photo of his birthday celebration. In the picture, you can see him with several friends, while Timothee makes an extremely excited face for the camera. Now let’s all try to imagine a Millennial heartthrob post an unflattering photo like that on Instagram, and still unintentionally fueling everyone’s fantasies.
He’s Not Afraid to Get Political
While celebrities of previous generations steered away from controversy and politics, younger generations are encouraged to get more involved in activism. The fear of being “controversial” has been replaced by the fear of being “complicit by inaction.”
As celebrities feel more and more required to get involved in various social causes, newcomers like Timothee are no exception. The actor has designed a hoodie to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The proceeds will go to a charity that helps fight for the rights of Afghani women and children. It’s actions like these that label Timothee as a “leader.”
We Know What Fans Think, but What Do Timothee’s Colleagues Think of Him?
We know that audiences love Timothee, but what do his colleagues think of him? Well, it turns out, they’re just as obsessed with the young actor as everyone else is! Even the famous Jennifer Lawrence has admitted to having a crush on Timothee, citing his physical appearance and talent as the reasons for her infatuation.
Timothee has been described as “genuinely great,” “funny,” and “hilarious” on set. Hollywood A-lister, Steve Carell, spoke about Timothee saying, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better audition.” While fellow heartthrob, Matthew McConaughey, said: Here’s what I saw – I saw natural talent, and I also saw real confidence.”
Of Course, There Are Also the Haters
Anytime there is someone “different” that questions social norms, there are those who feel threatened by it. It happened to Harry Styles when he wore a dress on the cover of a magazine. Suddenly, everyone panicked, as if all men everywhere were being forced to don dresses. Timothee is currently experiencing that same backlash.
Although there have always been those who took issue with Timothee’s physical appearance and femininity, the true hate began after he was cast to star in Dune. One upset fan expressed their frustration by saying, “He is the opposite of the action movie heroes of my youth, and yet he is playing one of the literary heroes of my childhood.” Allow us to translate that: “More toxic masculinity, please. That’s what I grew up seeing in action movies and that’s what I’m comfortable with.”
Lily Rose Isn’t Timothee’s Only Connection to Johnny Depp
Dating Johnny Depp’s daughter isn’t Timothee’s only connection to the Hollywood legend. The young actor has also been cast as Willy Wonka, a role which Johnny recently occupied. The movie Wonka will be a prequel to the beloved film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
This particular role could be what makes or breaks Timothee’s precarious status as a potential Hollywood icon. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a story of older generations and they’ll have high expectations for the young actor to deliver. Meanwhile, younger generations who are already fans of Timothee may find themselves lacking the nostalgic connection to the story that makes the character magical.
What Does Timothee Have to Say About Masculinity?
Timothee knows the fuss he’s caused and the fact that he’s not seen as stereotypically masculine. In fact, a producer he’s worked with even said, “Girls love him now because I don’t think they’re scared of him.” Wait, why did we think being scared of a guy was hot in the first place? So what does Timothee think about his sex symbol status and our cultural shift?
When Timothee’s musical counterpart, Harry Styles, asked him “Do you feel a responsibility as an actor to represent a new form of masculinity on screen?” Timothee answered, “There isn’t a specific notion or jean size, or muscle shirt, or affectation, or eyebrow raise, or dissolution, or drug use that you have to take part in to be masculine. It’s exciting.”
The Trappings of Fame
Fame can be both a blessing and a curse, especially when it happens seemingly overnight, as it did for Timothee. The actor speaks about the positive sides of fame, saying “All this stuff’s very new – I’m trying to keep a journal and really remember this time of my life. It feels special.” Yes, he journals. No, we cannot imagine any of our 90s crushes journaling.
However, Timothee saw fame’s ugly side when the paparazzi took photos of him and Lily-Rose hooking up on a yacht together. Timothee spoke about the experience with dismay. “I went to bed that night thinking that was one of the best days of my life… And then, waking up to all these pictures, and feeling embarrassed, and looking like a real nob?” Unfortunately for his private life, but fortunately for his career, Timothee will have to get accustomed to the lack of privacy.
He’s Not Just an Actor, Timothee Had an Unexpected Side Hustle
Timothee had a very short-lived rap career, in which he went by the stage name Lil Timmy Tim. In fact, he begins one video by saying “Timmy Tim, the next Slim Shady.” Sorry Timothee, but you can’t be both the next Leonardo DiCaprio and the next Slim Shady!
While rapping may not be in the cards for Timothee, he does have other talents and hopes to branch out to other possibilities. “I want to pursue other things creatively, not so much music, but definitely writing and directing. I’m going to be very, very patient about that. The dream as an actor is to be economically self-sustainable and what this year has been is beyond that now. I’m getting a creative license of sorts.”
The Leader of the Next Generation Rejects One of His Generation’s Favorite Pasttimes
Timothee doesn’t agree with his generation’s love of oversharing and social media, he chooses to keep his life as private as possible. This is largely a professional decision, rather than a personal one. Timothee explains, “To keep the ball rolling creatively takes a certain ignorance to the way you’re consumed.”
Timothee is intentional about what he shows to the public. His Instagram consists primarily of promoting his work and a few select photos with friends and family. That being said, he doesn’t reveal defining personal information about himself. Such as his religious affiliation, political views, and most ambiguous: his sexuality.
From ”Men Don’t Cry” to ”Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve”
While heartthrobs of the past have needed to be perceived as “mysterious” and were taught dangerous beliefs like “men don’t cry,” the next generation is interested in emotionally healthy men. Timothee aptly says, “I feel like I’m here to show that to wear your heart on your sleeve is O.K.”
We, as a society, have started to see that if we want men who treat us with sensitivity and show their emotions, we need to accept those traits as masculine and sexy. Toxic masculinity is a problem that affects all genders and the first step is to show an alternative option that’s still perceived as attractive. That’s why Timothee Chalamet is seen as the Leader of the Next Generation, he’s the poster-child for society’s new “ideal man.”