Why Timothee Chalamet Is Perfect To Play Bob Dylan In The New Biopic
It was recently announced that Timothée Chalamet will play legendary folk legend Bob Dylan in a new upcoming biopic from James Mangold. The 24-year-old has been practically everywhere since his Academy Award-nominated performance opposite Armie Hammer in the 2017 coming-of-age romance Call Me By Your Name. Subsequent roles as a drug-addicted teen in Beautiful Boy, a love interest to Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird and more recently in Little Women, and being cast as the lead of Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, Dune, have cemented him as one of the most acclaimed young actors of his generation.
According to Deadline, James Mangold, the Oscar-nominated helmer of last year’s acclaimed historical drama Ford v Ferrari will direct the actor in what is rumored to be titled Going Electric, based on a book by Elijah Ward that focuses on a controversial time in the then-younger musician’s career.
However, the announcement of his casting as Bob Dylan has been receiving mixed reactions, including one article that suggests the actor is literally “too hot” to pull off the role. However, we think Timothée Chalamet has just what it takes to play Dylan in a biopic that should at least prove to be more straightforward than Todd Haynes’ experimental I’m Not There, and this is why.
Timothée Chalamet Is Nearly A Dead Ringer For A Young Bob Dylan
It is rare for a biopic to be blessed with an actor who actually shares a strikingly close resemblance with the real-life subject they are portraying, Rami Malek as Freddy Mercury being one of the few exceptions. Despite a few features that suggest the contrary, Timothée Chalamet has the look of someone born to play Bob Dylan.
For one, he already has the tousled haircut: a look that both he and Bob Dylan’s can both claim they have rocked in the prime of their careers. A quick glance at a photo of Timothée Chalamet is enough to point out that he has the folk singer’s eyes, nose, and mouth. It is as if he could have been his grandson.
Timothée Chalamet may have about four inches on Bob Dylan’s 5’6” stature, but at least he shares his lanky frame, and so what if his jawline is a million times sharper? He still looks the part more than just about any of the actors playing “him” in I’m Not There (I actually really do like that movie, I swear). If you ask me, none of this matters nearly as much as having an ear for music.
Like Bob Dylan, Timothée Chalamet Is Musically Inclined
In Call Me By Your Name, Timothée Chalamet’s teenage protagonist Elio is seen playing Satie's “Sonatine bureaucratique” on the piano for his family and strums an acoustic guitar in another scene. This was no movie magic trickery - the actor really has skills playing the ivories and with a six-string.
While he had to learn guitar for Call Me By Your Name and is also reportedly taking lessons at the moment to prepare for the upcoming biopic, Timothée Chalamet is no stranger to piano, having played it growing up until around age 10 before picking up the habit again for his role as Elio. While Bob Dylan was the kind of multi-skilled artist who could pull-off a one-man band performance effortlessly, considering this film is said to cover the highly critical time when the artist embraced his inner rock star and took up electric guitar instead of acoustic, I do not believe the actor should be expected to wear a bass drum on his back or a harmonica holder around his neck either.
It is clear from the arguments above that Timothée Chalamet possesses the physicality and musical talent required to nail a kick-ass performance as Bob Dylan. That being said, what else does he really need to pull it off? It’s not like a strong singing voice is necessary.
Timothée Chalamet Does Not Necessarily Need To Be A Good Singer To Play Bob Dylan
Even among the musician’s most devoted worshippers, it is no secret that, among Bob Dylan’s many talents, gifted vocal cords is not one of them. He is typically characterized, and even a subject of ridicule at times, for his signature nasally voice that could often reach higher pitches than his harmonica. Before his time, a voice like his would have been unacceptable in any recording studio.
However, Bob Dylan did not need to sound like Roy Orbison (whom, coincidentally, he would, at one time, collaborate with in the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys) to achieve success. Indeed, it could be said that he changed what it meant to be a good singer by making what he was singing about the most important aspect of his performance with lyrics of revolutionary poeticism and powerful societal commentary.
When an actor is cast as the lead in a musical biopic, most people are quick to question his or her singing ability and some end up coming through with providing their own vocals, such as Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, while others need another to help them fake it, just like the Oscar-winning Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody. However, I am surprised that there is even a conversation regarding Timothée Chalamet’s singing ability considering the singer has been cast to portray is a man who is not even famous for his singing ability. To match the vocal range of Bob Dylan, all Chalamet needs is strong acting ability, which he has proven to possess time and time again.
In conclusion, Timothée Chalamet has the look, the skill and, maybe even the lack of skill to pull off a performance of Bob Dylan that the man himself could be proud of. We will know for sure once James Mangold’s Bob Dylan biopic, now in development, hits theaters.
What do you think? Is Timothée Chalamet the right choice or does Bob Dylan deserve better? Let us know!
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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