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Image / Editorial

Why the Timothée Chalamet and Harry Styles interview is so important

by Erin Lindsay
02nd Nov 2018

“Mr. Chalamet…”

“Mr. Styles”

And with that, the internet was thrown into a frenzy.

Yesterday, i-D magazine published an exclusive conversation between two of the earth’s most famous young men. Singer Harry Styles, who began his professional life in boy band One Direction, before branching off as a solo artist, and dipping his toe into the world of acting with a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, interviewed Timothée Chalamet, the Oscar-nominated actor who has drawn comparison to teenage idols River Phoenix and Leonardo DiCaprio for his role in Call Me By Your Name.

The conversation is honest, funny, and easy – it was a revelation by i-D to have these two conversing with each other, rather than be interviewed by a third party. But what really has the internet going wild is the subject matter of the interview. Styles and Chalamet discuss toxic masculinity, political responsibility, creativity, emotions – and of course, whether Chalamet can still eat peaches after that scene in Call Me By Your Name.

Styles and Chalamet are framed as a new generation of male heartthrobs by the piece. Where James Dean and Leonardo DiCaprio have gone before them, these two young men represent an evolved version of a poster boy – one that is creative, in touch with his emotions, and not afraid to be feminine. This comes across in both of the men’s answers – they’re thoughtful about their place in an ever-divisive world, and how their actions and motives come with responsibilities. Where James Dean might have brushed off these ideas with a ‘too-cool-to-care’ demeanour, Styles and Chalamet are emotionally invested.

Their conversation around masculinity and what it means to be a modern man is particularly interesting. When Styles asks Chalamet whether he feels a responsibility to represent a new form of masculinity, Chalamet’s answer is profound: “I want to say you can be whatever you want to be. 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. It’s a brave new world.”

Styles responds with his thoughts on how being vulnerable is a strength, and he and Chalamet discuss the ‘high’ you get when you truly allow yourself to be open. “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,” Styles says.

Chalamet sums the entire conversation up in his thoughts about human emotions: “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.”

The two young men are symbolic of a new generation of idols, and the responsibility is not lost on them. While many are fangirling over two heartthrobs chatting on the phone, there are many who will take comfort in Styles and Chalamet’s permissions to be vulnerable.