Dear Mr. Chalamet: When I was 22 …

I wasn’t going to say anything, but … I’ve been cheating on Benedict Cumberbatch with a 22-year-old since January. THE SHAME! And, seriously, I wasn’t going to say anything, but there’s been an abundance of irrationality surrounding said 22-year-old recently, and I can’t keep my mouth shut.

If you’ve seen Call Me By Your Name (or paid attention at all to the previous award season), you know the name Timothee Chalamet. No? Well, here he is:

He’s freaking beautiful, okay? And intelligent and endearingly awkward in interviews and extremely talented. He speaks FRENCH, for Christ’s sake. He was at the Oscars for Best Actor, the youngest nominee in that category in almost eighty years. Ever since watching him play precocious Elio in Call Me By Your Name, I’ve been a fan, which is easy considering he’s active on social media: a universe where Benedict is noticeably absent.

Due to Timothee’s social media activity, we fans know things. Since we’re all obsessed—men and women of all ages alike—we play detective and figure things out. The paparazzi have been annoyingly helpful, too. Thanks to them (and Timothee’s Instagram), we know the following:

  1. He partied hard at Coachella.
  2. He’s been hanging out with rock stars like The Weeknd and Nicki Minaj.
  3. He was recently spotted making out with a blonde chick in France.

I applaud the guy. I mean, shit, he just lived through award season, winning thirty-three big trophies for his role as Elio. He wore designer suits and walked every red carpet and smiled and smiled and shook hands and … I’m exhausted just thinking about it. He deserves to take a few months off to party, because—lest we forget—Chalamet is twenty-two.

Instagram capture of Timothee from The Weeknd’s party palace at Coachella.

Some fans have responded harshly, worrying about what drugs he might be doing, the sex he might be having. Worrying that he’s going to trip and hurt himself. People are screaming, “He must be protected!” Right. Okay. Time travel with me, would you?

When I was twenty-two, I was still in college. I was consistently getting drunk and dancing with strangers in bars. I didn’t have a job lined up after graduation. I slept until I literally had to go to class and did laundry once a month maybe. I lived on pizza and beer. One night, my girlfriends and I even had a contest to see who could kiss the most dudes in one night. I won with seven.

Some fans have seemingly forgotten what it was like to be a freaking kid. Granted, Timothee is an Oscar-nominated kid who might get another nod this year for his role in Beautiful Boy, but he’s still a child. (A sexy adult child, but you know what I mean.)

People—media included—need to cut him some slack. We’ve seen it happen a million times before: young actors getting all messed up and ending up in rehab by thirty. Do I want this sob story for Timothee? No. But maybe part of the reason young stars end up screwy is because they never get a chance to be kids and just have fun. They don’t deserve the pressure of being held to a higher standard. They’re just growing up, going through the same motions as all of us.

As Timothee has said in interviews, the male brain doesn’t fully develop until twenty-five, but young stars are under intense scrutiny, which I imagine is terrifying. God, I shudder to think what my life would be like if I’d had cameras pointed at me in college! I’d probably be in jail.

Should young stars be expected to hide in their homes, spending their nights reading philosophy while avidly not enjoying a cocktail? Hell, no. My advice to Timothee Chalamet: have fun, man! When you’re not working, party with cool people and experience life. Get laid! Get drunk! Post ridiculous dancing videos on Instagram. You might be alarmingly successful right now, but work hard, play hard.

I feel so blessed for the life I’ve led, experiencing fully every age. When I was twenty-two, I lived it up. (I still live it up.) I hate to see anyone forced to grow up too fast. It’s important to enjoy being young. Enjoy being thirty. Enjoy being forty! You get the idea. So everyone just chill and let Tim be Tim. (I still love you, Benedict.)

Call Me By Your Name: A Powerful Writing Lesson

As I write the Bite Somebody screenplay, I’m constantly doing “research.” Recently, my research included seeing Oscar-nominated film Call Me By Your Name and then reading the book.

Mind, blown.

If you don’t know, Call Me By Your Name (nominated for Best Picture) is the  story of Elio and Oliver, two young men who fall in love over the course of a summer in 1980s Italy. Elio is seventeen; Oliver is twenty-four. In the film version, Elio is played by Timothee Chalamet (at 22, the youngest Best Actor nominee since 1944). Oliver is played by Armie Hammer.

The movie messed me up in a good way. Watching it is a visceral, emotional experience … although it was semi-awkward watching CMBYN in the theater, surrounded by middle-aged heterosexual couples. Chalamet and Hammer do not hold back in the sensuality department. In fact, despite its lack of nudity, CMBYN is possibly the sexiest movie I’ve ever seen.

The book, written by Andre Aciman, was so much darker and more disturbing. I chalk this up to the power of movie magic. In the book, we are in Elio’s head the whole time. We are there as his infatuation with Oliver grows. We are there for his eventual heartbreak. We are present for both emotions in the film version, as well, but the book takes it to another level because we don’t hear Elio’s thoughts in the film; we see only his actions.

What an excellent reminder for me as I wrestle with the Bite Somebody screenplay. My novel is all from Celia’s perspective, so—like Elio—we’re with her through every moment of self-doubt. In the screenplay, I have little more than dialogue to work with. I am forced to simplify, as was CMBYN screenwriter James Ivory (nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay).

Simplify, simplify is exactly what occurs when Ivory translates the book into film, which worked wonderfully. Ivory cuts characters and lengthy scenes, and it’s his artistic decisions that (for me) make the movie so much stronger. Yet, he also managed to make some characters more important (like Elio’s parents and Marzia) with resounding success.

And the dialogue? Bless me, baby Jesus, I can’t even … Astounding! There’s one scene in particular in which Elio and Oliver circle a fountain and Elio tells Oliver he’s a virgin but literally never says anything about virginity. For real, I can’t even. Watch:

Don’t get me wrong, Aciman is an outstanding author. I’d like to slurp some of his sentences with a spoon. And yet, the film … Young Timothee Chalamet is a marvel as Elio. Rarely have I fallen in love with a character so quickly. He and Armie Hammer have sizzling chemistry, even as they navigate messy kisses and boyish wrestling. The two actors (both heterosexual BTW) grew very close in real life over the course of filming, and it shows.

Elio is just more likeable in the film—sweeter, softer—and although, yes, he does have sex with a peach, Ivory cut some of the more unsavory scenes from the book. Scenes so disturbing that I cringed. The most disturbing thing about the movie was that Hammer is so much bigger than Chalamet. I worried the cute, little guy might get hurt.

Chalamet: ” a skinny, little nugget.”

Ivory also chose the perfect place to end the movie, and well, SPOILER!!!! (Skip the next paragraph if you’re worried.)

In the book, we jump forward in time and watch Elio age and never get over Oliver. In the film, Elio and Oliver say goodbye when Elio is just seventeen. Sure, the final movie scene is just … sob … but there’s a glimmer of hope that Elio will someday have another great love. Maybe he’ll even meet up with Oliver again. We don’t know what will happen, and I love the openness of the film’s conclusion. It doesn’t feel as definite as the book. It’s not so damn tragic.

Seeing Call Me By Your Name and reading the novel was fun, albeit emotionally daunting. What an amazing learning tool on so many levels. For one, I usually believe books are better than film versions. Wrong in this case. I also witnessed what sorts of things to streamline in a screenplay and even what moments make a character likable. I owe a lot to both James Ivory and Andre Aciman for their unique brilliance. This movie deserves awards, and what an inspiration for a fledgling screenwriter!