It’s Timothée Chalamet Day in Venice.
This isn’t a national holiday, but perhaps it should be. It’s just past 1:30 p.m. outside the Venice Film Festival’s Sala Casino, and a crowd of youth have set aside work and school commitments to travel into the Lido to catch a glimpse of the American superstar arriving for a press conference.
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Every generation has their movie star heartthrob — from Jonathan Taylor Thomas to Brad Pitt in the ’90s and Robert Pattison at the dawn of the Twilight movies. For many young women, Chalamet represents the pinnacle of Gen Z cool. The Chalamet stans arrived as early as 7 a.m. on Friday to catch a glance of Timothée. They are, not surprisingly, mostly female. They describe their favorite performances as “Call Me By Your Name” and “The King” but are mostly drawn to Chalamet because of his talent, and kind and friendly nature.
Gaia del Perugia is pressed against a metal barrier with a pen and piece of blank paper in hand. She’s travelled in from Tuscany for a second year running to see Chalamet at the festival. She doesn’t have a ticket for his new movie, “Bones and All”; she only wants to get a proper look at him sashaying down the red carpet. She was also here for “Dune” last year, but “too far away” to see him up close.
“He’s beautiful,” she says. “He’s beautiful and talented.”
The 17-year-old begins detailing his movies — “’Call Me By Your Name’ is the most famous film,” she declares — but is suddenly interrupted by a girlfriend who comes and urgently whispers something in her ear. Her eyes widen as she realizes she’s positioned herself in entirely the wrong place.
“Uh, Timothée is inside the Casino and we need to go to the other side when he leaves,” she says abruptly, before the pair hurry off.
In the Sala Casino, it’s a conferenza stampa to remember: Chalamet has gone on an anti-social media tirade.
“To be young now, and to be young whenever — I can only speak for my generation — is to be intensely judged,” Chalamet told gathered journalists.
The 26-year-old stars alongside Taylor Russell as cannibal lovers in “Bones and All,” the new movie from Chalamet’s “Call Me By Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino. The film is set in the 1980s, when social media didn’t exist.
“I can’t imagine what it is to grow up with the onslaught of social media, and it was a relief to play characters who are wrestling with an internal dilemma [without] the ability to go on Reddit, or Twitter, Instagram or TikTok and figure out where they fit in.
“I’m not casting judgement,” Chalamet added. “You can find your tribe there.” But “I think it’s hard to be alive now. I think societal collapse is in the air. That’s why hopefully this movie will matter.”
A few floors below, another tribe is gathered, smartphones at the ready. They’ve been standing by the pier for hours, hoping Chalamet might, as he’s wont to do, indulge fans with autographs, selfies and hugs.
Diana Bianco, nestled in the crowd, plays with a pin on her blouse. “I [heart] CREMA,” it reads, with a peach in place of a heart. Crema is the northern Italian town, near Milan, where “Call My By Your Name” was filmed. The little village became an overnight sensation after the movie came out, with fans flocking to visit the film’s locations.
“For me, Timothée Chalamet is loved in Italy because he’s very young and beautiful, but he’s always very nice, honest and with a special attention for his fans,” says the 47-year-old.
By now, the press conference has long finished and after 30 minutes, the movie’s cast members begin trickling out: first Chloe Sevigny, who is met with cheers, and then Mark Rylance — one of the greatest actors of his generation — who goes unnoticed except for a sole, enthusiastic “Hi Mark!” Meanwhile, a chic-looking Taylor Russell takes her time posing with fans.
There’s a crackling tension in the air as fans wonder how long they’ll realistically have with Chalamet at this point. One young woman fans herself with the Chalamet-fronted edition of TIME magazine.
A passerby comes up behind one group to ask what everyone’s waiting for. A girl turns around and explains with wild gesticulations that they’re waiting for Chalamet.
“It’s important that you understand,” she says solemnly.
“Yes. I understand,” he nods, and wordlessly joins the crowd.
Then, a mop of dark curls appears, flanked by security and representatives, and the mood shifts. Suddenly, everyone is energized, and showing perhaps more restraint than most would expect. There’s no need to scream and flail — at least, not yet: Chalamet is going up to each fan and patiently signing autographs and posing for photographs.
One young Italian man hugs the actor, eyes closed the entire time, much like how a devout Catholic might embrace the pope.
By the time Chalamet gets to Bianco, the crowd is waving their arms to get his attention, and shouting “TIMOTHÉE! TIMMY!” Chalamet saunters over and smiles. “What’s up?” he says, before being enveloped into an endless series of selfies. As he eventually breaks free to board his gondola, the fans are screaming.
Bianco made eye contact with him, she says, but is annoyed she didn’t get a photo of just the two of them. “All the photos are with a group,” she says, visibly flustered. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
Kate Hanson, a Canadian who’s in town for the festival, managed to score a photo with the actor after a three-hour wait. “I feel ridiculous for how much it meant to me. I’m judging myself, but also, it’s really cool.”
Why does she like him so much?
“That’s a really good question that will take weeks to answer, which I should talk to my therapist about,” says the 20-year-old. After some thought, she adds: “It feels nice to have a Gen Z star who seems genuinely nice, whom we can all look up to.”
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