I don’t know if there is a God. And if there is, I don’t know if she’d allow such a formative conversation like this one to take place at i-D Magazine instead of, like—and I’m just spitballing here—my living room, but it has happened: Harry Styles, my boyfriend, called up Timothée Chalamet, my son, for a lovely conversation. They greeted each other with “Mr. Styles” and “Mr. Chalamet,” seemed genuinely infatuated with one another and touched on everything from books and process to the peach incident and soft expressions of masculinity.
This was the first question.
H: My first question; David Bowie once said that, “Creativity is like wading out into the ocean. You wade out to the point where you can’t touch the bottom, you’re a little scared, and that’s where you do your best work.” Do you agree?
T: I do agree. It reminds me of a quote – if someone tells an artist that they’re brave, they’re really telling them that they’re crazy. I think that whatever bone gets electrified when I act, there’s always a feeling that I’m a little bit out of my depth or out of control.
The first question, if conducted by an actual journalist, might’ve lead to us uncovering which bone goes a buzzing for lil ol’ Timothée. For now, let’s enjoy the mystery.
Then they pivoted here, which is clearly and cleverly disguised conspiracy bait for endlessly loyal One Direction fans (me.) “Secret messages”? Come on:
H: Whenever I’ve done stuff in film or music videos, I often put secret messages in for friends; like I’ll have someone’s name in something or I’ll wear necklaces that my friend’s kids have made or something. Do you ever put secret messages to people in your movies?
T: I’m a very tactile actor, and if I start getting it in my head that I suck, then I do start reaching out for things and I do have little mementos. Certainly on a film like Call Me By Your Name, when we were shooting in a house, there were lots of nooks and crannies where I felt safer. I have little things for myself in each role and little things I try to take with me after I wrap.
And with the introduction of Call Me By Your Name, this:
H: Can you still eat peaches?
T: [Laughs] Umm I can, but not without thinking about it…
H: I’ve had a hard time…
T: [Laughs again] That’s the most awkward scene to see with your parents in the whole world. My poor father…
H: I’m sure he’s done it too. You’re close with your family, right?
T: Yes, I am. Are you the same?
“I’m sure he’s done it too”? Harry’s a damn freak.
A smart freak who knows his audience:
H: I didn’t grow up in a man’s man world. I grew up with my mum and my sister. But I definitely think in the last two years, I’ve become a lot more content with who I am. I think there’s so much masculinity in being vulnerable and allowing yourself to be feminine, and I’m very comfortable with that. Growing up you don’t even know what those things mean. You have this idea of what being masculine is and as you grow up and experience more of the world, you become more comfortable with who you are. Today it’s easier to embrace masculinity in so many different things. I definitely find – through music, writing, talking with friends and being open – that some of the times when I feel most confident is when I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable. It’s something that I definitely try and do.
T: That’s really beautiful and inspiring, and certainly it goes back to feeling comfortable in chaos and creating in madness. It’s almost a high to be vulnerable. I really get that. I think it can be achieved in art, but also in intimacy. It’s the craziest feeling to achieve that vulnerability. If us having this conversation, in any infinitesimal way, can help anyone, a guy, a girl, realise that being vulnerable is not a weakness, not a social barrier. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or hyper emotional, you’re just human, which I think is something your music gets at and hopefully my movies do too. Humans are complex; we need to feel a lot of things. We are not homogeneous.
More than ever before, publications are now banking on the celeb-interviews-celeb format for traffic. It’s distressing, as a critic, to think that one day great profile writing or even simple and illuminating Q&As conducted by gifted interviewers could go the way of much print media.
That may be hyperbolic, but this isn’t: celeb-on-celeb conversations are usually lackluster. A famous person doing another person’s job is simply a person doing another person’s job. However, and at the risk of hypocrisy, I much enjoyed this—though I would more enjoy a lengthy, insightful, fly-on-the-wall piece by a storied journalist in the room more, were it to have taken place in person.
Read the full conversation here.