Why Wes Anderson Cast Timothée Chalamet: He Belongs in the French New Wave

After working with Timothée Chalamet on “The French Dispatch,” Wes Anderson is convinced the 24-year-old Oscar nominee would have been right at home in the films of the French New Wave, according to the director in GQ magazine for Chalamet’s new cover story. In the upcoming, anthology-inspired “French Dispatch,” Chalamet stars as a student revolutionary named Zeffirelli, whose story appears to have a few nods to the Nouvelle Vague, from its black-and-white cinematography to its focus on rebellious and liberated youth.

“I had seen Timmy in ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Call Me by Your Name’ and I never had the inconvenience of ever thinking of anybody else for this role even for a second,” Anderson said. “I knew he was exactly right, and plus: He speaks French and looks like he might actually have walked right out of an Éric Rohmer movie. Some time around 1985. A slow train from Paris, a backpack, a beach for 10 days in bad weather. He’s not any kind of type — but the New Wave would have had a happy place for him.”

Chalamet is one of the newcomers to Anderson’s troupe in “The French Dispatch,” which also stars the director’s longtime collaborators Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, and more. How did Chalamet fare as a new arrival to Anderson’s world? “It was immediately as if it wasn’t his first time with our group,” Anderson said. “He was somehow already part of the family. The youngest member.”

“I think my favorite moments with Timmy during a scene were the ones where I saw him pause and find a new attack,” the filmmaker added. “A new angle, which he does very clearly and assertively. What I love is how he will surprise you with something new, completely unexpected and perfect.”

“The French Dispatch” was originally on the release calendar for July 24, 2020 but was moved by Searchlight Pictures amid the coronavirus pandemic. The film was named an official selection of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. The movie’s second release date for October 16, 2020 was also removed. Searchlight has not announced a new date, but the film could pop back up at Cannes in 2021.

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