Chalamet holds court with Henry V role in The King
South Korea: Timothee Chalamet admits he was intimidated by the prospect of playing the title role in a new film version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, but then he also likes a challenge.
“To do Shakespeare and be an American playing an English king is properly intimidating. But I try to work on things that are challenging, things that are scary,” said the 23-year-old US actor, who was in Korea in early October to promote The King at the 24th Busan International Film Festival.
The historical drama premieres on Netflix on Nov 1.
Chalamet, who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his breakout turn in 2017’s Call Me By Your Name, said in some ways he could relate to the medieval coming-of-age tale of unwilling heir Prince Hal who inherits the throne and was thrown into the adult world at an early age, assuming new responsibilities and vowing to bring order and peace to the warring chaos.
“Even right now there’s a room full of adults and I’m the young person here,” he said.
“It can feel some version of not normal to be young and to deal with adults in a professional manner.”
Chalamet was joined on stage by The King director David Michod (War Machine, Animal Kingdom) and fellow Australian and co-star Joel Edgerton, who plays Hal’s hard-drinking friend and mentor Sir John Falstaff.
He added: “I have so far worked on material that is very different to this, but I leapt at this opportunity. Travelling around the world with a film like this is the kind of thing that when you are a kid you dream about. It’s a wild ride.”
Among those to have played King Henry V in the past are acclaimed British actors Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh, while more recently Tom Hiddleson tackled the role in the BBC series The Hollow Crown in 2012.
The New York-raised Chalamet said he had called up the services of an English speech coach in order to nail the accent, but had been more concerned with working “through the lens of the 15th century”.
“I went to a drama high school and one of the things the teachers there wanted us to learn was to choose the roles that are daunting rather than the roles that are in your wheelhouse, or that you are more comfortable with,” said Chalamet.
He said Henry was “universally relatable” for youngsters who “don’t have the skill set, mentally or socially, to deal with the circumstances”.
“I am excited that a new generation can see this kind of material,” he said. - AFP