• Festivals

Timothée Chalamet: “Bones and All” on Isolation and Love

The prospect of seeing Golden Globe winner Timothée Chalamet in Bones and All prompted reporters to cram into the Sala Darsena at the Venice Film Festival at 8:30 on an unseasonably chilly Italian morning.

The horror-love story of two lost souls – Timothée as Lee and Taylor Russell (Waves) as Maren – driven by their inner urges to consume human flesh is directed by Luca Guadagnino and co-stars Mark Rylance and an almost unrecognizable, Chloë Sevigny. The horror aspect of the film is real, as graphic scenes of flesh-eating are not shied away from. However, the overall arching themes of isolation, judgment, and finding one’s tribe are the anchors to this unusual love story.

New York native Timothée got personal about loss and finding oneself during the 79th Biennale di Venezia press conference: “I lost my grandmother this year,” he said. “As I realized that she was passing, my Mom and I were talking about Kiss Me, Kate,” a musical his grandmother had performed in when young.  “As someone that struggled with who my tribe was, where I came from, with parents from very different backgrounds, I realized we’re show people, theater people, and actors. I felt at home in that moment.”

He then addressed the feeling of isolation that is integral to the characters in Bones and All, and that has resonated with many during Covid and beyond. The script, written in collaboration by Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter David Kajganich, was developed during the height of the pandemic – something the actor referenced repeatedly during the press conference as having been beneficial to both the script and the acting process. “The feeling of being cut off from social contact” became a source that helped the star of the upcoming sequel to Dune to “understand where we were based on the story we were telling ourselves, as opposed to the social contact of what usually gets us by.”


The 26-year-old actor added,  “I think a big part of it was a tribe-lessness,” which he said was a feeling experienced by both the main characters. “Maren and Lee find affirmation through the mirror of love, and each other’s gaze. That affirmation is strong at first, and I think many people have had this experience in love, too;  that affirmation can quickly lead you to the same haunted helplessness.”

He went on to voice a truth many currently feel, as reflected in the theme of Bones and All, and to explain why he feels that the story will resonate, especially with his peers. “I think it’s tough to be alive now. I think a societal collapse is in the air. It smells like it. Without being pretentious, hopefully, these movies matter, because that’s the role of the artist, or so I’m told, to shine a light on what’s going on.”


The actor, who brought the red carpet to a standstill at the Venice Premiere of Bones and All by wearing a red backless jumpsuit by Haider Ackerman, shared the experience of undergoing societal judgment. “To be young now – I can only speak for my generation, but it is to be intensely judged. I can’t imagine what it is to grow up with the onslaught of social media. It was a relief to play characters that are wrestling with an internal dilemma, absent the ability to go on Reddit or Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, and figure out where they fit in.”

Chalamet, who also has a producer’s credit on the film, elaborated further on the epic feel of many scenes that were shot in middle America, capturing a vast beauty, but also magnifying the idea of singularity in an expanse. “I think the isolation these characters feel in the movie resonated from what everyone in this room is experiencing in the pandemic, and how intensely socially isolated we were; not that we’re attention-hungry, narcissistic beings, but nonetheless, you need that contact to understand where you are. I felt a similar disillusionment that I think Lee was feeling in the script at that point,” he admitted.

In closing, he was asked how it felt to reunite with Luca Guadagnino, with whom he had first worked on Call Me By Your Name (2017). “Luca was fatherly with me in guiding me (as a producer) for the first time. Working on the script with the blessing of the author, Camille DeAngelis, who wrote the book, “Bones and All” – the work we did before filming is the biggest reason I could even claim that title (producer),” he stated. “The gift of getting to work with Luca again, the gift that he gave me of a career, to be up here with Chloë, Mark, and Taylor, that’s a great gift.” He turned to the director next to his seated and said, “Thank you for that.”

Then he chuckled, “I can’t say that I was helping organize schedules or anything like that. But it’s something I hope to continue doing.”

He paused before elaborating on why producing is so appealing to him. “I hope to eventually be able to make things that I’m not in, that help bring voices and faces to the screen that historically don’t get the opportunity so much.”