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Fresh-faced actor Timotheé Chalamet appears to have been tailor-made for his role in The King, Netflix’s big-budget take on Shakespeare’s ‘Henriad’ plays.
Timotheé - pronounced ‘Timothy’ - takes the lead as Hal, a wayward English prince who is reluctantly crowned King Henry V at the age of 25. Not only does the native New Yorker fit the historical description of his character - being tall, lean and dark-haired - but he’s almost spot on in terms of age at 23 years old.
Plus, his middle name just happens to be Hal. And don’t let his birthplace fool you - this American is fluent in French - King Henry’s second language - courtesy his Gallic father, UNICEF editor Marc Chalamet.
Lost in translation
Despite having two dialects under his belt, Timotheé admits to Yahoo Lifestyle in an exclusive interview that there’s one lingo in particular that left him stumped: the Aussie slang thrown around by The King’s homegrown director David Michôd and writer/co-star Joel Edgerton.
“I couldn’t understand half of what they were saying,” Timotheé jokes about David and Joel’s Aussie-isms.
“We start just saying things and realise ‘hang on a minute, no one has any idea what we’re talking about!’” David pipes up.
The director then puts his young star on the spot by quizzing him on the meaning behind a particularly ocker phrase, ‘to give something a squiz’ - aka a ‘look over’.
A puzzled Timotheé - whose break-out role in indie flick Call Me by Your Name earned him a Best Actor Oscar nod - simply smiles and shrugs.
Timotheé and Lily-Rose’s rumoured romance
The handsome actor retains his poker face when the subject of his on-screen - and rumoured off-screen - love interest, Lily-Rose Depp, comes up.
Lily-Rose, the daughter of actors Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, stars as the quietly intelligent Catherine of Valois who sweeps into the film in the final act to unpick the plot and accept King Henry’s hand in marriage.
While the suspected couple has yet to publicly confirm their relationship, former model Lily, 20, and Timotheé reportedly began dating in October 2018 and were spotted kissing on a yacht in Italy last month.
Burgeoning talent Lily, who was just 19 at the time of filming, certainly impressed director David, who calls her “awesome” and admits he’d “love to make another movie” with her.
David goes as far as suggesting that the French-American ingenue stole the scene from leading man Timotheé.
“I agree,” the slightly self-conscious star laughs before subtly elbowing his director in the ribs - a hint to steer the conversation away from romance? Perhaps.
A warrior king
Timotheé is much more open about the physical aspect of the role which saw him wading through a muddy battlefield while wearing a hot, heavy and claustrophobic suit of armour as per his director’s design.
“[David] wanted us to feel what would have been apt for the period [which was] less precise sword choreography and bad-ass sword-wielding and more terror and chaos,” he explains.
Joel, who co-wrote and produced the film as well as starring as the king’s confidant Sir John Falstaff, concurs, telling Yahoo Lifestyle in a separate interview that acting in and co-ordinating those scenes was “like organised chaos”.
“You literally create a mud pile, put the cameras there and just kind of cross your fingers,” The Great Gatsby actor adds.
It’s amidst a particularly muddy battle that Timotheé’s co-star Robert Pattinson, who plays the king’s deranged enemy The Dauphin of France, challenges the king to a fight before promptly slipping over in a veritable slapstick moment.
So, how did Timotheé avoid laughing as the Batman star took a tumble, like many audiences have done while watching the film?
Well, he says that the scene is in fact “deeply insulting” to his character and “wasn’t funny in the context of doing it”.
“But I agree, I also think it’s funny,” he admits.
David, too, was less concerned with lols and more worried about the scene ‘working’.
“I just remember at the time the sun was going down and [wondering] ‘did we have it yet?’. I just experienced it as panic,” he recalls.
A red carpet darling
Well before he took on the role of King Henry V, the Lady Bird star was already dressing like royalty - for his red carpet appearances at least.
For The King’s Australian premiere last Thursday Timotheé treated his dedicated fans - some of whom had been queuing outside Sydney’s Randwick Ritz Cinema since 4 am - to yet another stellar look, a cobalt blue shirt and pants combo.
But the fashion-forward actor - who recently rocked an edgy bejewelled harness by luxury label Louis Vuitton - remains humble about his sartorial successes and denies employing a stylist.
“No, I’m truly just having fun, maybe too much fun... when else in life do you have the opportunity to dress up?” he shrugs.
Timotheé’s style nous has not only earned him the tick of approval from fans and fashion’s elite alike but also his director, who reckons it’s “awesome”.
The King debuts on Netflix on November 1, with exclusive theatrical engagements beginning October 11 2019.
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